Detroit: Become Human Review

I am really glad I played this game when I did. I missed it earlier in the year when it came out. But, I needed something to fill my time between Marvel’s Spider-Man and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, two very gameplay heavy games, and Detroit: Become Human filled that gap nicely. I treated this game like a long movie and it feels right at home with that mindset.

Also, I needed a palette cleanser after getting annoyed at the Spider-Man platinum and Detroit: Become Human really helped get me back in the gaming mentality.

TL,DR: At the end, as per usual.

Also, no spoilers in the text of my review, but images will probably have spoilers. A review with images is no fun, so I felt like I needed them. But, again they will probably have spoilers.

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Graphics:

Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human adheres to their standard of graphical quality. If you’ve played any of their games in the past you know that they look great, both in the details and in the world at large.

In my review of Marvel’s Spider-Man a couple weeks ago I mentioned that the facial animations look as good as a Quantic Dream game. That may have been inaccurate and based on earlier games from Quantic Dream. I feel like they capture the actors face with a thousand different nodules during development in order to portray them 100% accurately.

I had no idea some people were even attached to the project, like Minka Kelly, Clancy Brown, and Lance Henriksen. But, Quantic Dream presented well enough for me to recognize them immediately and without question. I never asked, “Hey, is that Clancy Brown?” Only to then look up the cast on Google. Rather, I said “Hey! I know that guy,” which isn’t entirely true, but I recognized him right away.

I can’t remember playing a game that takes place in Detroit, so I was glad to experience something new in the digital. I enjoy seeing digital representations of real places so getting to see Detroit, even a fictional one, made for a great experience. I can’t say that they captured the real Detroit because I’ve never been there. But, I can say that Quantic Dream presented a wonderfully rendered city that looked and felt different depending on situation and weather.

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Sound:

I don’t know if I should be impressed with the quality of the voice actors anymore? Sony nails it with every game they do. I know that Quantic Dream is not part of Sony’s development stable but Detroit: Become Human is a first party game, so I’ll call it good. They use high-quality talent and it shows in the games that Sony publishes.

Outside of the voices, the sounds in the game stood out fairly well. The weather and environment impacted the sound enough for me to notice. The cars and footsteps sounded muted lending to the feel of a tense quiet in the city. The rain crowded my ears and kept my focus on the things closest to me. There are a few times in the game where I felt distracted and later realized that was intentional and important for the story.

I love when developers take advantage of sound to improve the experience and Quantic Dream really nailed down that aspect of the game.

Yet again, the music leaves a bit to be desired. Besides one memorable experience with music, the rest, if it existed at all, fell flat.

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Technical:

I wasn’t sure where to lump this: but there a quite a few instances of the text not matching what was said on screen. I am of two minds with this. On one hand, not everyone plays with subtitles. On the other hand, I feel like matching the subtitles to the actual script is important. I think that’s an easy fix so I’m more critical of the mismatches.

I think I’m disappointed with how well the game ran. There were constant frame drops and mismatched scenes that ran at different frames. At one point there is an odd montage of sorts that looks like one scene is running at 60 FPS and one scene is running at 30 FPS. I can’t verify the real-time FPS in those scenes, but I can say that they looked odd, especially side to side.

The frame issues and text-to-voice mismatch happened enough for me to be bothered by them. I can forgive some minor glitches here and there, however, these issues were often and glaring. On occasion, I was distracted by the issues enough to be taken out of the game enough to be bothered. And for a game that focuses on story and characters so much, I was all the more disappointed.

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Gameplay:

The small amount of gameplay felt pretty good overall. I mean you just press a couple buttons sometimes and that’s about it.

Gameplay is not a focus of Quantic Dream, nor will it be a focus of my review. The gameplay was good enough and I never forget to push the buttons when I was prompted.

I’m really impressed with the story from beginning to end. I enjoyed the clear acts in the story. I could point out Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3 as they happened, which I’m fairly happy about. I don’t think it’s important to always have those distinct lines, but I find myself losing interest in the story because of odd pacing. That does not exist here. The writers, David Cage and Adam Williams, told a weird and wonderful story.

I’m specifically using weird because that’s how I felt throughout the game. It made me uncomfortable and made me question some of my own thoughts or preconceptions. There are a few different layers to this story and a meta-narrative. I’m purposefully being obtuse with that description because I don’t want to give away anything. And because the story plays out differently depending on how you play.

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I think the main characters are well-written and dynamic. I questioned the motives and background of the major characters, wondering if they were “good” or “bad.” On the flip side, some characters were just “bad” or “evil” or only “good.” I think real people are more dynamic and varied than traditional good versus bad.

That wasn’t the case with every character in the game. Some of them are designed to be seen negatively while others were designed to be seen positively, without question. I think the three main characters are well-done from a writing standpoint, and even the majority of side characters were pretty good.

I am impressed with Quantic Dream’s ability to incorporate real issues into the narrative of the game. I was conflicted with some of the issues I made and was forced to make. The story felt more like a book than a video game, in the best way.

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Overall:

Minor annoyances do detract from the game sometimes, but not enough to make the story less interesting.

I don’t think I got the best ending, but I don’t think I’ll replay the game. I like that the game ended in a certain way for me because that’s how I chose to play. The experience was memorable and kept me engaged.

The game was a nice change of pace from Spider-Man and action heavy games.

Quantic Dream played to their strengths by focusing on story and characters which ultimately creates an interesting experience. I felt a mixture of emotions from the game and I’m glad I played. I think if you want a well-told 10-hour movie, you can’t go wrong with Detroit: Become Human.

TL,DR: Good game, glad I played. I won’t go back to see more of the story as I feel like that one playthrough is my version the game and I don’t want to change it. 

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