Imagine a world in the near future where people androids have replaced humans in a myriad of occupations such as teachers and nannies. Treated as mere things or tools, a series of laws are passed to solidify their less-than status, including being forced to wear clothing with blue bands on the sleeves and blue triangles on their chests. What if these supposed things started acting strangely and started developing feelings? Then you might be imagining the world of Detroit: Become Human.
Not Your Typical Video Game
Quantic Dream's latest game, Become Human, originates from the Kara demo the developer posted back in 2012. Due to the overwhelming positive response, writer and video game designer David Cage began fleshing out the short into the full-blown game shown at E3 2016. When the game is ready for launch, gamers will play as several characters including Kara and Connor, an android specially trained to track down defective android — a Blade Runner if you will.
Choose Your Own Adventure
During an extending demo viewing, Cage walked us through how Become Human will give players a treasure trove of choice. But be warned, just like real life, every choice has consequence and will affect the rest of the story. Each one of your characters can die as we saw in one of the demos. We sat through two playthroughs of Conner trying to defuse a hostage situation involving a defective droid and a little girl.
In the first playthrough, the person playing Connor doesn't take much time to investigate the situation. And when he confronts the hostage taker, he purposefully picks the more antagonistic answers in the dialogue tree. David's gripe is that his owners were getting a newer model.
"I thought they loved me, like I loved them" he howls, "but they used me like I was a toy! Is my only purpose to be a slave?" Connor replies that what David thinks he's feeling are only glitches in his programming, which further enrages the distraught droid. The end result is the bot jumping from the rooftop taking the child with him.
During the next run, the person took some time to look around the apartment discovering the android's name was David and his owners were about the replace him. Using that information Conner was able to empathize with David's plight enough to encourage him to release the child.
"I promise nothing will happen to you," Connor says after David releases the girl, just seconds before a sniper's shot disables the surrendering David.
"You lied to me Connor," David says as the life leaves his eyes, "you lied."
Connor's crime scene examinations are a more sophisticated version of what you'd find in the Arkham Knight series. You can look at a crime scene reconstruction in 360 degrees, using the PS4 controller's touchpad to unfold the animation or examine points of interests that are highlighted in blue.
The more information you glean, the higher the success rate for the mission becomes. During the second playthough Connor's success rate started at 43 percent, but rose to 60 percent after examining the child's room and the father's tablet. All the information you gather is collected in Connor's mind palace, where the android processes everything he's discovered.
While it's tempting to try to check out every glimmering piece of evidence, keep in mind that time is of the essence. If you take too long, the S.W.A.T. team that's been deployed to neutralize the situation or David might do something rash before you get the opportunity to step in.
Quantic Dream has always been one of those game studios that pushes the idea of what constitutes a video game and this latest title is no exception. I'm anxious to see where this story leads. The parallels between slavery and the three-fifths act in the United States and the Star of David badges the Gestapo forced Jews to wear in Nazi Europe intrigue me. Despite its near-future setting, Detroit: Become Human might force some of us to take a cold, hard look at the racism, sexism and a host of other -isms we grapple with today.