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Detroit: Become Human – First Impressions

It has been just over a year since we first saw Detroit: Become Human’s first teaser trailer. Heavy Rain creators, Quantic Dream, already had a massive fan base after becoming renowned for creating incredible interactive dramas. In the year since that initial teaser trailer, they have no doubt amassed an even larger following. After maintaining silence for a very long time, we finally got a new trailer about Connor, an android designed for detective work. At EGX this year, I got an opportunity to play this now famous scene myself.

Detroit: Become Human - First Impressions

World Design

As we know from Detroit’s sparse offering of trailers, this world of androids living among humans is a harsh one. As Connor steps out of the elevator into a horrible crime scene, I learned this first hand. A police captain and Connor himself refer to the dangerous android outside as “it”. It appears to be human, suffering overwhelmingly human emotions as it dangles an innocent young girl over the edge of the building. Tension adds to the drama as Connor is soon made aware of how keen the police captain is to kill the android, risking the girl’s life to get the job done.

Detroit: Become Human - First Impressions
As the player we are encouraged to take our time and explore the apartment for clues. Nerve rackingly, the occasional gun shot goes off and police officers scuttle to find cover. In most games, we players would assume these are audio / visual cues suggesting something has happened that we must take action on. Quantic Dream knows this and plays on it to incredible effect not only to bolster immersion and realism but also to make players grit their teeth as they force themselves to find these clues. Each clue discovered increases Connor’s chances of succeeding in the scenario and saying the right things to the homicidal android right outside. 

Gameplay

As Connor robotically walks with calmness around the flat, contrasted with the flustered humans around him, he analyses data tablets, licks android blood to recognise the model he’s dealing with and even finds a gun a victim used to defend himself. We can choose to holster it or leave it be. More importantly, every single thing we find opens up new branching possibilities that will either work to our advantage or our detriment. We can, of course, choose to ignore all the clues and confront the homicidal android straight away. Certain areas can be reconstructed with holograms, not too dissimilar to detective mode in Arkham City. What’s new here however, is a smooth fast forward or rewind, combined with camera movement to identify clues otherwise unseen.  

Detroit: Become Human - First Impressions 
What hits home is knowing Quantic Dream have poured enough depth into Connor’s gameplay to justify a game on its own. Yet, the other characters we are currently aware of – Marcus and Kara – have drastically different story arcs within Detroit. As a result, we can be sure their corresponding gameplay elements will be equally in-depth. For now, Connor finds enough clues to reach a 76% probability of success and steps outside. 

Narrative

Quantic Dream is best known for crafting personalised stories branching out of player decisions and dialogue choices. Each choice obviously creates a specific set of animations and so, the scene continues. Where they have developed most notably is how this is handled in Detroit: Become Human. The incredibly high bar of graphics plays the scene out as if it were a pre-rendered cutscene and we get dialogue options seamlessly throughout.

Detroit: Become Human - First Impressions 
Connor instantly takes a bullet without flinching and the negotiation begins. As we control him carefully tilting the stick to walk slowly towards the target, the cutscene continues around us. Police officers shout orders as a helicopter filled with snipers swoops in, lowering our chances for success. We wave it away to keep the target calm. Continuing to choose what we hope are the correct dialogue choices the closer we get, Connor also has the choice to admit whether he has a gun. There’s also a police officer out here, bleeding to death. We try to help him, still choosing dialogue options to calm the target. But the android grows increasingly agitated. We have no choice but to leave the wounded man there…

Detroit: Become Human - First Impressions

This entire scene never pauses the scene for the player to make their choice of dialogue. Unlike previous titles from Quantic Dream, Detroit: Become Human never takes its foot off the gas until the end of the level where we can breathe a sigh of relief. That is – if we managed to take down the target AND save the girl. This successful outcome relies solely on every player choice made, up until the end. The quality of writing and voice acting made this the only game at the whole of EGX that immersed me so much, I forgot I was at a games event. 

Conclusion

Detroit: Become Human positively excels at everything it deals with. Graphically, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I felt like I was playing a Hollywood budget CGI film. The attention to detail in every part of the scene that surrounded me was incredible. The only minor thing that interrupted this otherwise pristine gaming experience was the return of right stick control to interact with objects. This seemed to be at odds with the free movement of the camera and I occasionally had to re-position Connor just to get the prompt. Aside from this, I have no doubt the quality of experience Detroit: Become Human can offer you will absolutely be worth your hard earned cash on release day. Sadly, there's still no word on when that will be. But if you missed this year's E3 presentation, check out the video below for a trailer on the scene I played.

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