Monday, 20 August 2018

Detroit: Become Human ★★★☆☆

We live in an age where AI (Artificial Intelligence) is rapidly progressing on a daily basis. In a minor way, with the likes of Siri and Alexus, it's already invaded our homes, our cars and our personal lives. Regardless that every book, movie and game is forever warning everyone that it's a terrible idea. Us meat sacks will never learn. We welcome the ability to become lethargic and let someone else do things for us. Detroit: Become Human plays on this. In the near future, Android companions have become the must have consumer item for any lazy schmuck that can't be arsed to clean up after themselves.

Quantic Dream games fall under the category of games as "an experience", a playable series of events. A lot like Tt games Batman or The Walking Dead, an evolution of the point and click or a Pick your own adventure. Visually the game is ridiculous. It's essentially a playable version of a movie with, mostly, incredibly impressive capture animation. Mouths still seem to be a slight issue, however. Detroit: Become Human relies heavily on its visuals and the player's investment in the narrative, to distract from the lack of gameplay elements. Aside from a few quick time events, pushing the right analogue stick in the direction of an interactable object or picking the next line of dialogue, the player never has much involvement. The rest is walking tight, set path, corridors to the next objective. I guess it's an evolution of games like Dragon's Lair and Space Ace.

In an early chapter, you play as an android named Markus. He's on an errand to pick up some paint for his elderly owner. You start off walking through a very detailed but unexplorable Park, blocked off by invisible (orange) no entry barriers, you also can't interact with any of a couple of dozen pedestrians occupying the area. After buying the paint, an angry mob of protesters begin to harass and kick Markus around. With no other option than to get up, back off the floor a couple of times, a policeman walks over and breaks it up and the mob go back to their picketing and Markus is told to go get the bus. Which is the only option you get as there is now an invisible (orange) barrier blocking your way back to the mob. I wanted to kick their ass. I wanted to be a crazy android, but that's never an option. This happens a lot. Orange barriers are explained away as keeping an android performing its task. The game never allows you to do anything outside of what it wants you to do. You end up feeling like an android, yourself because you end up conforming to the way the game wants you to play. I'm pretty sure that wasn't intentional but if it was, then I guess it's genius. Choosing the "wrong" outcome, at any point could lead to a Perma-death situation, Killing off a main character. In the back of your mind, you feel like you'd be missing out on some part of the game's story. Like you've failed, as a human, but are encouraged to proceed through the game this way. The only brave character in the whole game, with any "real" consequence, is the little girl. She's put into constant mortal danger, by her android guardian, and used as a bargaining, guilt trip, piece of leverage to get what she wants. The girl is going to need some major therapy.

I believe games have the potential to portray some extremely touchy subject matters, in a way no other forms of media could capture. Detroit, in its own heavy handed way, attempts to cover a plethora of meaningful social issues. From domestic violence, discrimination to segregation... only I don't think these came across quite the way David Cage possibly intended. The actors of the game deserve extra credit for being able to deliver their lines without cringing at some of the misplaced dialogue.

David Cage games (Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls, Fahrenheit) are those TV shows everyone keeps talking about that we always intend to get around to checking out. Sometimes when we finally do, and we realise what we'd missed. With all of its issues, Detroit: Become Human is still mostly enjoyable in the moment. - What is a Video Game -

Bry Wyatt

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