Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. I am in great need of emotional support. Detroit: Become Human is copyright Quantic Dream. Images used for reference and commentary.
Premise: The year is 2038. Androids are commonplace. Deviants – rogue androids – are on the rise. You play as three different androids in Detroit, each with their own goals.
This game starts off mundane. For Markus and Kara. Connor gets thrown straight into a hostage situation. Go Connor! But the other two? You walk around, press some buttons. Snore. I did not pay $0 to borrow this game, just so that I could clean toilets, take out the trash, or help an old man go potty.
Then shit gets intense.
The controls take some getting used to. Which stick am I meant to move? Which button am I meant to press? OH MY GOD, THE EVIL HUMAN IS COMING FOR ME. What do you mean she’s dead? Don’t judge me, blonde android lady! I only have two small hands! Fuckin’ Todd.
All of these androids are made by a company called Cyberlife. Yes, one company has the monopoly on this game-changing technology, that just happens to be going rogue. Guess they’re getting hella sued.
The three protagonists of Detroit: Become Human are:
Most Likely To: Exaggerate his oppression at the hands of humans.
Markus is the caretaker for Carl, a rich old man who is a kind, fatherly figure to him. Markus goes on to tell everyone how he was an oppressed slave. “I had to buy him paints and play chess with him!” Ungrateful little shit.
He is the leader of the deviants. The only reason he is appointed leader seems to be because he is a mandroid with magic hands. He can “convert” other androids to follow him. Can anyone say cult? Markus was gifted to Carl by the creator of Cyberlife. Suspicious. He is overly important to the story.
You can choose to make Markus a peaceful protestor or a dangerous tyrant. But he will still say radical things like “all humans hate us” and “we’re superior to them” even if you go the peaceful route.
Tip: Don’t get Markus killed unless you want everything to go to shit. He is the Chosen One. No one can do what he can. Especially if they are a ladydroid.
Most Likely To: Be a cinnamon roll that must be protected at all costs.
Connor is the android sent by Cyberlife to work with the police in hunting down and capturing deviants. He’s like Ryan Gosling’s character in Bladerunner 2049, but with a personality and no libido. Connor’s favourite things are doing coin tricks and looking at himself in the mirror. A lot.
His police partner is Hank Anderson, a has-been cop with a tragic backstory and suicidal tendencies. Hank’s dynamic with Connor is one of the best in the game.
You can choose to make Connor a stoic machine or man’s best friend.
Most Likely To: Be underutilised and underpowered – but brilliantly portrayed by Valorie Curry.
Kara is a housekeeper to an abusive father and his daughter. She is so inconsequential to the overall story arc that she can die in her second chapter. But if you manage to keep her alive, she has some wonderful moments with Alice, the daughter of aforementioned evil man.
It is unfortunate – no, it is effin’ aggravating – that Kara, the only playable female character, is resigned to a motherly figure. Her relationship with Alice is sweet and makes for some of the best moments in the story, but she is robbed of a greater role in the plot. She is on the sidelines, while Markus and Connor battle it out in Detroit.
Kara is also weak compared to her male counterparts. Despite being an android, she cannot pull off a plank of wood that is nailed to a door. Male androids can do these things with ease. She’s a machine, damn it! Give her some oomph! Let her kick some butts!
You can play Kara as protective of Alice or…distant-ish? She doesn’t have much diversion in her characterisation. She and Alice team up with a male android during the story, who is not crucial to their survival and refreshingly not a love interest. This makes him a lovely addition to their little family dynamic.
Tip: Keep Kara and Alice alive or I will come for you.
Detroit: Become Human is heavy-handed with the symbolism. Unlike the movie Zootopia, which built its own systemic racism without drawing direct parallels to specific minorities, Detroit: Become Human beats you over the head with blatant nods to historic racism and oppression, such as showing that the androids must stand in a compartment in the back of the bus, and having the android in the menu quote Martin Luther King Jr.
Tip: In scenes, there are a limited number of things you can do before things progress. Choose carefully and be quick.
The game sources from – uhh, “pays homage to” – several other android titles like Blade Runner and iRobot. It touches on many of the impacts of androids in society, but only seems to graze the surface of these issues. Most of these issues are only peeked at in magazines you find lying around the place. People are out of jobs, blaming androids instead of the people who created them. Capitalism at work! People throw out their androids when they are done with them, instead of selling them on or salvaging them for parts. Apparently tons of people are poor and out of work, and the 1% is just throwing out perfectly good machinery, willy-nilly. Also, Russia is being a naughty-face.
Detroit: Become Human’s biggest failing is how it handles its (few) female characters. Kara is pigeon-holed into the role of mother, and then there is North. North is a female deviant, who used to be a prostitute. She is also Markus’ love interest. Yes, Markus can make her fall in love with him after a couple of days, even if he does nearly everything she disagrees with. Check out those mandroid pheromones!
North is also incapable of leading the deviants. Despite the fact that she is just as strong, smart and determined as Markus, she cannot succeed. Only he can. Detroit: Become Human could have had many, many more scenarios – good and bad – that played out if Markus died…but instead they chose to make him the linchpin of the game, undermining other characters like Connor and North in the process.
Detroit: Become Human is a good game, but not without its flaws. It is the little moments that make you fall in love with the characters. It is also one of the few games where your choices make a huge impact on how the story unfolds.
Did I mention Connor? Play for Connor.