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EGX 2017: Detroit: Become Human

Correction: 18:39 on 29 September 2017:

Thank you to Jay for letting me know in the comments below that I got the names of the characters wrong. ‘David’ should be ‘Daniel’, and ‘Rachel’ should be ‘Emma’; I guess that serves me right for not taking notes during the demo and getting too wrapped up in the game! Sorry everybody.

Original post: 06:00 on 27 September 2017:

Not everyone is a fan of the Quantic Dream games and the developer’s releases tend to have a polarising effect on the gaming community and critics alike. Many criticise them for incoherent storylines and bad characters, along with limited interactivity and too many quick-time events (QTEs); and founder David Cage is often called out for being a poor writer who’d rather make a move than a video game.

Personally though, I love their games and have eagerly awaited their releases ever since playing Fahrenheit in 2005. Heavy Rain was an interactive drama that turned out to be an exhilarating experience and I was immediately sucked into Jodie and Aiden’s world in Beyond: Two Souls. I’ve not yet played Quantic Dream’s first title, Omikron: The Nomad Soul, but it’s on my wishlist and I’ll hopefully tick it off very soon.

That’s why Detroit: Become Human was the initial game added to my to-play list when I found out what was going to be exhibited at this year’s EGX event. After dragging my other-half through the doors of the Birmingham NEC and telling him we could do whatever he wanted afterwards, we made our way through the hall and joined an hour-long queue of people eager to get their hands on the title.

I’d thought that perhaps the Detroit stand would simply consist of a presentation behind a screen – as seemed to be favoured by the bigger developers at last year’s show – but I needn’t have worried. Attendees were able to get their hands on the demo displayed at E3 back in June and it was ABSOLUTELY AWESOME. Sorry about the capitals but yes, I was that excited about it.

Set in the near future where androids have been invented and are changing the fabric of society, the plot centres around three characters. Kara escapes the factory where she was made to explore her newfound sentience; Connor is responsible for hunting down deviant androids like her; and Markus devotes himself to releasing other machines from servitude. Quantic Dream’s website explains that the game focuses on what it means to be human, and what it would be like to ‘be in the shoes of a machine discovering our world and their own emotions’.

The demo gave us the opportunity to play as Connor as he enters a hostage negotiation scene where young Rachel has been taken by a deviant android named David. He now has hold of her on the ledge of her family’s apartment building and has already caused several casualties; and it’s up to you to prevent the situation from escalating and save the girl’s life. However, her mother isn’t too pleased that a machine was sent instead of a human.

As with the developer’s releases, every choice counts. If you choose to try and understand what happened by examining the apartment, a number representing your chance of success increases. For example, looking at a saucepan boiling over in the kitchen reveals that the family were just about to sit down to dinner; and investigating music coming from headphones in Rachel’s bedroom shows that she didn’t hear her kidnapper’s gunfire.

You can also examine certain clues more closely to create reconstructions. If you take a look at the android’s victims, you’ll sadly come across Rachel’s father John who appears to have been shot. Analysing his body enables you to rewind time and discover that he was holding something when he was attacked – and the nearby tablet he dropped displays an advert for a new android, possibly David’s replacement.

EGX, expo, event, video games, Detroit: Become Human

I’m pleased to say I managed to save Rachel during my playthrough of the demo but unfortunately the android wasn’t so lucky. I made Connor rush forward to pull her to safety as David prepared to jump – although this also saw me hurtling over side of the building with him. The player next to me reached a different ending whereby the kidnapper released the girl but was then shot by a sniper, causing him to accuse Connor of being a liar.

There’s no official release date for Detroit: Become Human although it’s looking as though the game will be published next year. I really hope so, because I can’t want to get my hands on this one.

48 thoughts on “EGX 2017: Detroit: Become Human

            1. That sounds awesome: nothing but chocolate and Detroit all day. I just did another quick check but the nearest to a release date at the moment is ‘2018’.

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              1. That actually would be amazing. 2018 is so far away though, argh. I just looked at release dates hoping to find a pattern: Fahrenheit September, Heavy Rain February and Beyond Two Souls October. Eh.

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    1. The demo was so good – it was as if they’ve taken the best aspects of Beyond: Two Souls and made them even better. The ‘detective’ section at the beginning gave a little more interactivity than we’ve come to expect from Quantic Dream and really ramped up the tension: you could choose to investigate further to increase your chances of success but while you were doing that, the kidnapper was outside and taking the police down with a gun!

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  1. I also liked Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls and this one looks good too, although I see more like an interactive episode of Black Mirror

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    1. Yeah, I can see the comparison! 🙂

      Being human, we can’t help but apply our emotions to decisions in video games even if we’re playing as a character – in this case, an android – designed to go on logical thought alone. But Detroit is a game which is aiming to focus on what it means to be human and how androids would cope with emotions, so it really works… It’s an interesting idea.

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          1. I started watching Humans when it first came out, but then missed an episode due to having to work late and never went back to it. I think I’ll have to start the first season again. 🙂

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    1. The ‘rewind time’ bit was really fun to play and such a good idea – having an android detective as your protagonist certainly gave the game’s designers a lot to play with. I’m looking forward to seeing what else they come up with and whether the mechanics change depending on whether you’re playing as Connor, Kara or Markus.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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  2. Glad to see you enjoyed Detroit: Become Human, would love to play it myself, but that will have to wait until release date. What is quite interesting when it comes to Quantic Dreams’ games, is that it’s not for the masses, it might seem like it but rather a niche group that likes these mixup in these psychological stories about humanity in different aspects.

    Remember when I played Fahrenheit for the first time, while the gameplay wasn’t my favorite, the story was both thrilling and fun to see play out. Heavy Rain (which is still my absolute favorite of his games) and Beyond Two Souls did get better, yet I’m a little concerned as well for Detroit: Become Human. Is it still what it was promised in the beginning to be, or will it focus too much on this rebellion that is happening in the story which wouldn’t be too bad but it seemed more to be a down to earth story about what it means to be human…or become human. What are your thoughts on this Kim? 🙂

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    1. It didn’t feel that way during the 20-minute demo I played. There were hints at the strained relations between humans and androids: for example, the mother is being ushered out of the room as you enter and criticises that a person wasn’t sent in your place; and a newspaper left on the table displays a headline about tensions.

      But they certainly weren’t the focus. It felt more as though the game was trying to highlight the kidnapper’s distress at being replaced by a later model (his ‘feelings’ being malfunctions in his code according to Connor); along with Connor’s predilection for logical thinking and analysis.

      I guess the game will need to touch on the rebellion somewhat otherwise it could feel an aspect of the story was missing, or players could be left without an understanding of the social environment the androids find themselves in . But if Detroit brings us more of what I saw in the demo, I’ll be more than happy. 🙂

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      1. Yeah I can see that, it’s just when more was revealed to be the full extend of story as a whole of the characters we were going to follow. I became quite worried, since at that moment it was a wish for it to be a more central psychological story about what it means to become human and the consequences that follows with it.

        From what you’re saying, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about and honestly, I’m still going to get it on release date 🙂

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  3. I haven’t played any other Quantic dream games yet, but Detroit looks really cool and has got me interested in the studio. Which of their games are recommend to try first?

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    1. Heavy Rain tends to be the preferred Quantic Dreams game so that’s a good place to start… but if you have someone to play alongside, you might want to go for Beyond: Two Souls.

      It’s generally the title with the lowest review scores and I know it’s been criticised for the way the storyline jumps around in time. But its co-op mode is pretty fun: I played with a friend and we both got so engrossed in the plot, we completed the entire thing in the space of a weekend. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea though! 😉

      It’s also the game that seems closest to Detroit from what I saw in the demo so if you like it, it could be worth checking out next year’s release.

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  4. I couldn’t bring myself to queue for this (or anything) in the end, but I’m glad to see your enthusiasm for it. Certainly looks interesting still, painful wait for release though.

    I’ve got Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls on the back burner for the forthcoming long winter nights. They’re £20 on Amazon for both games if you’re a Prime member, for anyone out there thinking about them too.

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    1. I must admit, Detroit was the only game I properly queued up for at EGX – and I made my other-half literally run there with me when we got through the doors so I could get ahead as much as possible. None of the other ‘big’ games at EGX really appealed to me enough to make me want to spend over an hour in a line.

      That’s one of the reasons I prefer Rezzed, I think. Not only are there usually more games at this event which appeal to me, everything is much more ‘personal’ in terms of layout.

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      1. I’ve been convinced to give Rezzed a go too, looking forward to that. I’m told it’s more focussed on the indie stuff. Would you agree with that? I get the impression, from reading Later Levels for a few weeks, you’re more interested in those sorts of titles. Have you even written about getting started with indie games, you know, the absolute must plays? What would you recommend?

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        1. While there are a few bigger releases on display at Rezzed, the focus is definitely on the indie side of gaming. You’ll really enjoy it!

          My preference is partly due to age: the older I get the less time I have for gaming due to work and family commitments, and smaller indie titles seem to fit in better with the limited hours I do have. In addition, I’ve loved adventures since playing Monkey Island as a kid and it’s the independent developers that tend to focus on this genre.

          I’d never considered writing a post along those lines though… hmm… I think I’m going to schedule something in for next month, and it’ll be dedicated to yourself. Thanks for the idea! 🙂

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          1. Thanks that’s quite an honour! I think you have mentioned things here and there, but it would be great to have something specifically about what to get started with. Hopefully by then I’ll have played a few indie titles myself. I’ve got a couple to play this weekend, courtesy of a code from EGX (Laser Disco Defenders) and something my accomplices all played while we were there I missed (Tracks – the train set game). So many games to play, never enough time!

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            1. I didn’t get a chance to play Tracks while at EGX, but I watched some other people do so and it looked like an interesting idea – I really liked the graphics too. You’ll have to let us know what you think of it!

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  5. this is one of the reasons i’m sad to not have a ps4. I really liked Heavy Rain, despite the harsh criticism it seemed to get. I’m all for interactive movie type games with QTEs.

    I’ve yet to play any of their other games, but sounds like it’d be worth my time.

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        1. We’re going to try and make it to the cinema this weekend to go see 2049… but I’m back on The Elder Scrolls Online so there’s a good chance I may not make it off of the sofa ha ha ha!

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