Detroit: Become Human is the latest game from French director and writer David Cage, which, if you’re familiar with his work, means something very specific. Cage’s studio Quantic Dream is known for producing a very particular kind of interactive drama, one that prizes cinematic storytelling above all else. These games are also infamous for their stilted writing, overwrought dialogue, and plots that can go off the rails in pursuit of creating an emotional experience. Cage is the kind of writer who brags about how long his scripts are.
Detroit is the studio’s most ambitious project to date, and one that liberally borrows themes from movies like Blade Runner, The Matrix, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Lucy O’Brien from IGN calls it “a poignantly pulpy interactive sci-fi drama where your choices can impact events to a greater and more satisfying degree than in most games of this type. Though I wish its story had been handled with a softer touch, especially considering the subtlety that can be conveyed through its tech and performances, its well-written and acted central trio were vital enough to me that I found myself feeling genuine distress when they were in danger and a sense of victory when they triumphed. Most importantly, Detroit offers a multitude of transparent branching paths that entice further playthroughs, and choices have a permanence that raise the stakes throughout.”
Andre Webster from the Verge calls it “a beautiful vision of the Future gets stuck in the past in the past.” Adding that Detroit is a beautiful game, one rendered with a level of visual care and detail that’s rare even in the lavish world of blockbuster video games. But all of that work feels wasted, tied to a story that, by the end, feels meaningless. In Detroit, androids can dream. But the game’s creators can’t seem to dream of anything new to say.
Allegra Frank from Polygon calls it a “[game that] tackles civil rights without a grasp of history,” which causes “Quantic Dream’s latest turns heavy topics into quick-time events.” Later adding, “Solving a kidnapping and murder through split-second button presses and polarized choices feels comparably pulpy. But reducing the androids’ fight for humanity — or struggles with discrimination or escaping brutal abuse — into grabbing nearly every button on your DualShock controller is a cheap, ignorant way to skirt the real impact of these subjects.”
Oliver Holmes from The Guardian says “Detroit: Become Human is a spectacularly crafted game that bends and branches out around the player’s choices in an astonishing and unparalleled way. Although hampered by tired central plots and some predictable, occasionally hokey storytelling, the result is a technical feat in video game development and a meticulously detailed cinematic achievement.”
Peter Brown from Gamespot says that “Detroit is purposefully designed in a disorderly fashion, leaving you with mini cliffhangers throughout the game as it cycles from one character’s perspective to the next at the end of every 10- to 20-minute chapter. This may sound messy, but it actually works in its favor as the main characters Kara, Connor, and Markus each bring something different to the table. That variety ensures you’re never bored and almost always surprised by what happens next.”
Kimberly Wallace from Game Informer says “Detroit made me think about topics I’ve avoided about humanity and our future, and that’s a good thing. These are hard issues to explore, and I’m glad Quantic Dream took on the challenge knowing it could result in failure. Detroit both succeeds and stumbles in that area.”
The overwhelming consensus from the major publications of this game is that lacking in its story. However, hosting a surprising immerse gameplay mechanics. Some either believe Detroit to be a well-written game, while others argue that the story felt too simplistic without much original to say.
Detroit: Become Human is now available for purchase for PS4.