I’ve had my eye on Detroit: Become Human since I saw the trailer for it at Sony’s E3 2016 press conference. Games that promise branching storylines and multiple paths based on your choices are something that has interested me since the days of the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from when I was a kid. Lots of games, from Bioshock 2 to Heavy Rain (by the same developer) the various Telltale properties to countless others have promised things along these lines, where your choices will have serious consequences and will change how everything goes down. Most of them don’t live up to it. Even many Telltale games, where this choice is a big draw, tend to have their stories inevitably come down to just a handful of options with most choices not necessarily mattering. Thus, while I’ve been excited about the game, I’ve been keeping it relatively tempered. Now, with the game finally nearing release, I’ve had a chance to play the Demo available in the Playstation store.
Remember how I mentioned last paragraph that I first became really aware of Detroit based on their E3 2016 press conference? Well, that turned out to be quite convenient, since the Demo essentially *is* their E3 2016 press conference. The scenario it gives you is the exact same one, including a lot of the dialogue, voice acting, and things to uncover. Because of this, I wasn’t really surprised at a lot of the directions the demo went. You are a negotiator sent to deal with a deviant android who has shot the father of the family he belonged to, shot two DPD officers, and now has taken a young child hostage. Your job is to find the hostage and try to get the deviant android to release her. To do this, you should first investigate the house to learn what you can to use in negotiation. Once you step outside, you have a verbal back and forth with the Deviant, which can result in several different endings.
And that’s it. It’s just that one particular scene. This gives a taste for how the game plays, but not necessarily for how the game will go. Without more, the Demo cannot show how your choices here might impact later. There are some hints that some of your choices (saving a fish, lying, etc) are causing deviations of your own, but we don’t get to see anything from that. It gives a taste, but it’s not anything we didn’t really see two and a half years ago. I was definitely hoping for more from this demo.
Control-wise, the game felt a bit sluggish. It was difficult to get the camera to look where I wanted it at times. This was then amplified by having the things you can look at not necessarily stand out. The actual confrontation ran fine, but the lead-up and investigation were more difficult to control Connor than they should have been. This was then aggravated by the fact that this was a timed section, where the longer you took, the harder the negotiation would be. If there are action or chase sections in the final game that require precision, this might be an issue. It doesn’t help that the camera controls were also the Interact controls. It wasn’t game breaking, but not as smooth as I might hope.
Graphics-wise, I thought it looked fine. I like the way the game looks when Connor isn’t out running into walls. The big overhead shot of Future Detroit was right out of a few cyberpunk novels I’ve read and set an interesting scene for what may come in the rest of the game. I don’t really have a lot to add to this, since I saw the footage two years ago and it looked fine then too. Everything looked like it ran relatively smoothly to me, so I can’t complain.
I don’t have an Alexa, so I wasn’t able to try out whatever integration stuff it claims to have with it. I will say, though, perhaps a game about in-home cybernetic assistants rebelling against their masters, where the iconic sign is a glowing blue circle is an odd thing for Amazon to team up with. Are they trying to tell us something.
All that considered, I’m still interested in Detroit when the final game releases. This didn’t do much to either increase or decrease my expectations for the game. I wish there had been more to see that was new, but alas. If any of the trailers piqued your interest, hop on your PS4 and give it a try. If you were dead set to either get it or not get it, I doubt the demo will change your mind either way.
Detroit: Become Human (Demo)
- Flowchart showing the various options is nice to let you know how much you could have done.
- Graphics still look nice
- Good music/voice acting/sound design
- Exactly what we've seen before
- Controls are a little sluggish
- Camera movement not the most smooth