A Future of Possibilities and Consequences
Detroit: Become Human is a current-gen game with next-gen sensibilities
5 million. That’s the number of copies Detroit: Become Human has sold. It’s a futuristic tale about rights, primarily. Not human rights exactly, but android rights.
The story is told through the eyes of three protagonists. Writers David Cage and Adam Williams turned heads thanks to the brutal and emotionally raw way they told their story. A key message was that no battle worth winning can be fought without significant sacrifices.
Crafting a powerful narrative is challenge enough. But what truly makes this game stand out is the way its plot is strictly tied to the choices players make.
There is no pre-determined future here. Just as in the real world, the future is always a range of possibilities, and events may unfold in completely unexpected (and undesirable) ways.
Maybe androids go on living as obedient slaves to their human creators. They might also go down a destructive path in their quest for freedom (which itself may lead to being “shut down” by human society — death, in other words).
Choice has been an ingredient in many games before. But developer Quantic Dream takes the concept much further here. This is achieved by forcing the player to see — and live with — the consequences of their actions. And not just in the moment, either, but throughout the rest of the game.
Even the simplest choices become more meaningful when you know you’ll be living with them for the rest of the game and when you consider that even the simplest choice can have serious — and completely unintended — consequences.
Even when the consequences are clear, they can be weighty to say the least. In the opening minutes of the game, for example, police negotiator Connor tries to convince a man who is holding a young girl at gunpoint to move back from the ledge of a skyscraper; he’s threatening to jump off, having just committed a series of murders.
The entire negotiation is left up to you, the player. If it goes well, you can at least save the girl. But if you make the wrong choices? It doesn’t end well.
As you get deeper into the experience, it only becomes more complex. If you are able to clearly think your way through each situation, then there’s certainly a chance you might get all three characters through the ordeal and off to a better future.
But even a small mishap or hesitation could prove highly costly further down the line.
As you might imagine, Detroit: Become Human demands high attention to detail from its players. Figuring out an appropriate solution to a problem means you’ve been closely following everything that’s been occurring up to that point, and you have some ability to visualise where your choices might take you.
The emphasis on choice and narrative means that Detroit: Become Human doesn’t feature complicated level upgrades for characters, or extensive battle systems. But these things are unnecessary, given the depth on offer around the “playable” narrative.
One of the big takeaways here is that there are few truly simple choices in life, especially when your choice involves others. There are both short and long term implications, and these may not always be immediately apparent.
Detroit: Become Human is a unique game that you should definitely experience, in part because it hints at where next-generation games might increasingly lean — designing genuinely new experiences that engage with us on completely different levels than we’re used to.
This article was originally published on SuperJump