Thursday, 24 May 2018 14:22

Review: Detroit: Become Human. Is the struggle for identity a game? Featured

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Quantic Dream and David Cage return with Detroit: Become Human, and the interactive movie concept is further perfected.

I have been struggling with David Cage's so-called games on itwire.com now for over eight years and I am completely over the whole discussion of whether Cage and the team at Quantic Dream are creating a game or an interactive story.

In the end it doesn’t matter, it is a form of entertainment like a digital choose your own adventure and need not be compared to the latest Call of Duty just because it emanates from the same piece of hardware.

Instead we have a story to work our way through, rather than hordes of enemies.

Heavy Rain was released in 2010, and explored the ideas behind a interactive detective narrative. In 2013 Beyond: Two Souls got a bit more metaphysical, but still explored aspects of the human condition with a twist on game play that gave players more freedom in movement and somewhat in choice.

In Detroit: Become Human, however, Cage takes us into our near future, glimpsing what that human condition can face in a world where AI has developed to a point where machine mingles with society in a fledgling form.

Androids are commercialised, and on the autonomous streets of Detroit this tale explores three distinct relationships between human and mechanised life.

It is impossible to say much more about the story without really spoiling the essence of the title. For those who have experienced a Quantic Dream game in the past, you know what you are in for: dialogue choices, exploration and interaction with elements of each vignette and occasional quick time events (QTE).

QTEs are where the player must respond to on-screen button presses or controller moves. They can be slow requests such as the mundane request to tidy the kitchen, or (as the Q implies) quick requests such as a dodge in a fight scene. Success means escape, failure could result in a nasty event, even the death of a character.

It all does not really matter however, each short vignette is really a series of branching moments, found or missed opportunities that the game takes into account and results in your experience. Just like a choose your own adventure book of yore.

After each scene, you can see a graphic representation of the paths chosen, and an obscured indication of the number of events if things had of panned out the other way. This includes statistics on the number of players world wide that ended up taking your path.  

The result is less about game achievements and more about just enjoying your time interacting with the story.  

Presentation is beautiful, they have really cleaned up the Detroit of the near-future and the uncanny-valley of in game characters (despite the fact we are actually dealing predominantly with androids) is almost non-existent. It does help that we have some recognisable actors such as Lance Henriksen (ironically, the synth Bishop in Aliens) and Clancy Brown (I remember him as the guard in Shawshank Redemption or Kurgen from Highlander), but overall, this is yet another PS4 graphical powerhouse.

Sure, it is not like there are a great deal of dynamic visuals that are being catered for here, it is largely a graphical movie, and it is certainly pleasant to behold.

Quantic Dream “games” are not for everyone, you will certainly want to be prepared for the mundane action wise, and to give yourself to the story. The story is a pretty good one though, one that almost combines the crime noir of Heavy Rain with the exploration of how AI can evolve and the conflicts of programming.

There you go, I made it through a Quantic Dream review without mentioning Dragon’s Lair… I am so proud.

@mbantick

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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