E3 2017: Detroit: Become Human

detroit: become human

Now with more emotions!

I’m severely torn on this one. On the one hand, Detroit: Become Human looks like a technical and storytelling tour-de-force. On the other hand, it’s developed by Quantic Dream, David Cage’s studio. David Cage is…polarizing.

Look, I’m not denying the man’s talent. Fahrenheit, Beyond: Two Souls, and Heavy Rain are all storytelling marvels. When David Cage wants to tell a story, he tells a rich, nuanced, impactful story. The problem is that, in my opinion, that storytelling is at the cost of gameplay. His games are absolute QTE-fests! And I HATE QTE’s!

Will Detroit: Become Human fall into the same trap? The gameplay trailer shown during Sony’s conference doesn’t seem to tell me either way. My gut tells me it will be. And that upsets me.

The game’s narrative is set to feature three androids: Connor, Kara, and Markus. Their stories intersect throughout a period of four days. Connor is tasked to deal with rogue, or “deviant”, androids. Deviants are androids who have been liberated from their programming and live outside their set path. Markus is a revolutionary “deviant” android who “liberates” androids and gives them free will. Kara is also such an android, and she is a fugitive.

The key to Detroit: Become Human is the choices players must make in the name of the main androids. In typical David Cage fashion, the choices are supposed to carry real weight. The weight is a bit heavier because, according to Cage, the terrorist attacks in France motivated him to explore scenarios in the game that confront players with the real-life consequences of violent actions. That is something I can get behind.

The trailers I have seen of Detroit: Become Human have convinced me that Quantic Dream is looking to design a game that really challenges players’ preconceptions of violence and the application of it. All of that is fine and good; a game that challenges players’ morally is commendable. That kind of storytelling is what made Spec-Ops: The Line the stomach punch it is narratively. But when David Cage tells the story, it’s incredibly ham-fisted and sacrifices gameplay along the way.

I am on record saying that Quick-Time Events (QTE’s) are the bane of my existence. Any game that forces you to abandon the story or action and press a sequence of buttons in a specific order is absurd. I excused it when Shenmue pioneered it because it was new. By the time Beyond: Two Souls came around, I was bored to death of the mechanic. The QTE’s are the reason I won’t even touch that game again.

In the trailer, Markus is attempting to liberate a store full of androids. How the scenario ends is entirely dependent on the player’s choices. The thought of having control of Markus and determining how the liberation attempt ends is awesome. Will I choose to go the peaceful route, or am I gonna incite a hostile rebellion? Those are choices that I would love to confront as a gamer. But not if my contribution to the story is a couple of menu choices followed by QTE’s.

To be honest, that’s hypocritical of me. I played both seasons of The Walking Dead and didn’t complain. Both seasons have the same basic gameplay options as I described above for Detroit: Become Human. I was okay with it then, but not now? What’s the difference? I don’t know. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out.

Detroit: Become Human currently has no release date. So I have time to square away how I should feel about it.

He has been playing video games for longer than he would like to admit, and is passionate about all retro games and systems. He also goes to bars with an NES controller hoping that entering the Konami code will give him thirty chances with the drunk chick at the bar. His interests include vodka, old-school games, women, vodka, and women gamers who drink vodka.

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