Paris Games Week greeted us with a brand-new trailer for Detroit: Become Human, and also with a new launch window of Spring 2018.
Trusted Reviews got the chance to play the game as well as get a behind closed doors presentation from the developers, which you can read all about below.
Detroit: Become Human Trailers
Take a look at the Paris Games Week trailer below, featuring scenes from the “Stormy Night” chapter. Be warned, it features very mature subject matter including child and domestic abuse.
Detroit: Become Human release date – When is it coming out?
There’s no specific launch date, but we now know it’ll arrive in Spring 2018, and will offer PS4 Pro support in full 4K and HDR.
It’s safe to assume the game will support PS4 Pro as well, being a first-party exclusive.
Detroit: Become Human gameplay preview
Previous David Cage games have received plenty of criticism. Heavy Rain, although considered a great experience, is noted for its tonal inconsistencies, while Beyond: Two Souls is widely recognised as an incoherent mess. Now it appears that lack of narrative cohesion could also be an issue for Detroit: Become Human. After enjoying a great hands-on demo of one scene, I witnessed a second presentation that was horrifically engaging and frustratingly bizarre. But weirdly, I still can’t help but be excited to experience more of the game.
Detroit’s plot focuses on a series of androids that have become sentient. How you behave in the guise of the characters and how you act as a ‘Deviant’ is down to you.
And it truly is up to the player. Quantic displayed the myriad ways in which any one scene can end via a flow chart – something players will see this at the end of every scene – that outlined all the possible choices you could make. Note that this isn’t an illusion of choice; for the first time it appears as though players have a genuine choice. Every single character within your control can die throughout the campaign, or they can all survive – and that’s very exciting.
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The Hostage situation is but one of these scenarios. A Deviant carer android has killed members of the house and kidnapped the daughter. With the android standing on the edge of a balcony, holding her at gunpoint, you play the negotiator android, Connor, charged with diffusing the situation and, hopefully, saving the girl.
The trailer does a great job showing the myriad ways the scene can play. You can save the girl, but this scenario could also end horribly. Of course, I was aiming for the best possible ending.
Detroit plays exactly like other Quantic Dream titles, using twists and turns of both analogue sticks to interact within the environment, coupled with the touchpad and motion controls. Quantic remains one of the few developers to take full advantage of the DualShock 4’s repertoire.
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In order to help establish the context of the crime, Connor can analyse elements of the crime scene before walking onto the balcony and beginning the negotiation. These are much like the detective segments in Heavy Rain or Batman’s Arkham games, where you use a ‘detective’ mode to analyse the room and reconstruct a sequence of events before your arrival on the scene.
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Analysing an empty gun case and missing bullets sees a reconstruction of the suspect taking the gun from a shelf, informing us that this android is armed. I must then speak with the on-site (human) leader of the SWAT team. It’s clear there’s huge tension between humans and androids. The coldness of the SWAT leader is seen alongside a desperate mother, begging for everyone to save her daughter; this quickly transitions to anger when she realises an android is being sent in to do the job.
Connor’s voice acting is particularly strong. It carries an awkward detachment that portrays the android’s lack of emotion. It’s almost like he’s ‘trying’ to be human – it’s really well done. The captain states that every second counts, at which point a UI overlay in Connor’s vision shows there’s a 49% chance of the girl being saved, which is slowly decreasing. Analysing the environment further, and gathering the right evidence, will help increase your chances of a successful negotiation. Conversely, dithering around in the home will make the Deviant anxious and make your situation much worse.
As with every Quantic game, it’s possible to interact with nearly everything in the environment. Turning the stove off won’t increase your chances of saving the girl, but checking the body of the deceased dad will – it reveals he was killed while browsing the web to purchase a replacement android, giving you a sympathetic angle to exploit.
Watching the success rate percentage notch up made me want to discover every clue in the room, but I knew this would go down the more time I spent looking around. I walked out with a 60% chance of success, which seemed like the best I could hope for.
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The negotiation is as tense as you’d expect. Choosing the right dialogue option in the hope the android becomes receptive and therefore allows the girl to walk away unharmed is nerve-wracking. Then there are those moments that are beyond your control. For example, when a SWAT helicopter flies in from nowhere, increasing the android’s anxiety and therefore hugely decreasing the odds of success.
Eventually, I was able to calm the android down, and convince it to release the girl. However, as soon as the girl was set free, the android was shot – which was a bit of a downer. I couldn’t feel too bad considering the horrendous crime scene I’d walked through on the way in, though, so its swings and roundabouts.
This was a superb demo, then, but it was juxtaposed with the hands-off presentation I was shown of another demo: Stormy Night.
If you’ve seen the Paris Games Week trailer then you’ll know that this scene deals with some very difficult subject matter. It concerns the horrendous domestic abuse of a young girl at the hands of her father, with one of the possible outcomes being that the child is beaten to death. While I believe it’s important for developers to be brave in approaching such mature subject matters through games titles, they must be willing to walk a delicate tightrope in the delivery of such moments. In this regard I feel Detroit slips.
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I saw two play-throughs of the demo. In one, Kara – the carer android in the scene between Alice (the child) and Todd (the abusive father) – rescued Alice and took her out of the front door, fleeing the grip of the the dad. The other scene saw Kara trying to reason with Todd, but quickly realising he’s beyond reason. Kara intervenes as Todd is beating Alice, pulling a gun, but doesn’t shoot in the first instance. A violent scuffle breaks out and then Kara shoots Todd. Kara then takes Alice out of the house on the bus.
Much of the scene is tackled well, but there are things that see it fall apart. Todd’s dialogue is poorly written, saved only by strong voice acting. Alice behaves in much the same way throughout each of the scenarios, which is bizarre, considering she’s freed from a home of abuse in one, while in the other she’s savagely beaten with a belt before witnessing her father being shot dead. It’s these inconsistencies that completely break the illusion of what Quantic Dream is trying to build.
If a game developer is willing to tackle issues such as child abuse – and, for the record, I do believe developers have every right to do so – then it has a responsibility to handle them in a way that goes beyond simply being a creative endeavour. I don’t feel this was achieved in the scene described above.
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Questions will continue to linger about Cage’s ability to deliver a cohesive narrative throughout the entirety of Detroit, but the Hostage sequence has me hopeful that there will be some genuinely great moments throughout the game. The level of choice and consequence is something previously unseen in games.
However, Stormy Night is one that will undoubtedly be a huge talking point, both for the bravery in addressing such delicate real-world issues, but also in the fumbled way in which it is ultimately portrayed. Whether Detroit is more Hostage or Stormy Night remains to be seen.
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