This past weekend at Fan Expo Canada I was lucky enough to try a demo of David Cage’s Detroit: Become Human. This PS4 exclusive takes place in a world not unlike our own except for one major factor: humanoid androids are a part of everyday life. In the demo you play as Connor, an advanced police android whose job it is to hunt down other androids that have deviated from the constraints of their programming. At the start of the demo you arrive at an active crime scene, a well to do high rise apartment, where an android caretaker has taken his child charge hostage and it is your job to deescalate the situation.
As you walk around the apartment there are people to talk to, as well as clues to discover which allow you to figure out what exactly happened before you and the Detroit Police Department showed up on the scene. The game uses fixed camera perspectives to both show and obfuscate what is going on at the scene, by using the R1 button the player can sort through the different camera angles while controlling Connor with the left stick. Interacting with objects in the game is done by inputting intuitive movements on the right stick. Holding down to kneel and look at a tablet tossed on the floor, for example, or rotating the stick to turn over a toppled family portrait.
One important gameplay mechanic is Connor’s ability to recreate a crime scene with the visual information that surrounds him. Finding a dead body on the living room floor, Connor inspects the body for information and is then given a time lapse of the event. Given this information the player must look at the scene from all angles to determine the chain of events that led to the character’s death. This will in turn grant the player new insight into what is currently going on in the demo.
After an investigation of the premises Connor confronts Daniel, the android who has taken a young girl hostage at gunpoint on the edge of the apartment’s rooftop pool. Backed up to the precipice of a multiple-story drop, Daniel has become unstable and it is now your job to negotiate the girl’s safe release. Throughout the demo there has been a rate of success bar shown intermittently as you gather information. As you try and talk down Daniel your dialogue choices will impact your potential success. Choose the right choices and you get Daniel to warm up to the idea that taking the young girl hostage isn’t his best course of action. Choose the wrong choice and watch as he gets more and more unhinged.
Visually the game is quite stunning, and this is emphasized during the hostage negotiation. While apartment backdrop is of high visual fidelity, the facial animations for the two androids really sell you on the intensity of the moment. Coupled with the game’s theme of “what is the worth of an android’s life” makes for an intense moment of gameplay that I hope can be fleshed out in the full game proper. Though your negotiation results may vary, the game shows that choices have consequences.
In the end I negotiated the girls surrender to the police. Hopefully the hard choices players are tasked with answering will have a lasting impact on the game moving forward. If so, this will be a must play game upon its expected release in 2018.
Image Source: Playstation