I have a love/hate relationship with David Cage games. Having played Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, my opinion was split down the middle when it came to Quantic Dream's unique brand of storytelling. I appreciated the phenomenal style of Heavy Rain (clearly taking a few notes from David Fincher's Seven), and for the most part, I was captivated by the story, but I felt that came at the expense of well-written or compelling characters. The problem was only further emphasized in Beyond: Two Souls, where I felt a strange disconnect with the characters that I couldn't quite shake. Ultimately, it impeded my enjoyment of both games to some degree - which is why I was so pleasantly surprised by Detroit: Become Human.
NOTE: This feature is spoiler-free, and contains no spoilers whatsoever from the story and its several twists and turns.
I still find it bizarre that I felt such a strong connection to the three main characters from Detroit: Become Human, given that they aren't actually humans, but stoic androids. I approached Detroit with some hesitation, and needless to say, had minimal expectations going in. After finally buckling and giving into playing the game (thank you, PlayStation Plus), I was incredibly impressed. Don't get me wrong, some of the nagging issues that I do have with David Cage games still persisted in the experience, but I walked away from the end credits feeling emotionally fulfilled in a way that I didn't expect to.
To get the few gripes out of the way first, Detroit: Become Human's foundations are built on some hamfisted politics. It does come across as forceful and blatant, especially towards the second half of the game, but strangely, Detroit didn't succumb to the "put plot first" negatives that I felt hindered Heavy Rain and especially Beyond: Two Souls. Instead, it wisely chose to put the characters at the forefront of the game - a narrative driven by the emotional reactions of its characters rather than the plot merely being a vehicle for them to get from point A to point B (and C, D, E, and F). I did get the sense that Cage was forcing in some on-the-nose themes and subject matters ranging from xenophobia to domestic abuse, but these moments were gratefully sparse in the grand scheme of things. When the action kicked into high gear, I was behind the characters and invested in their plights, instead of simply going along for the narrative ride.
That's the biggest praise I can actually give Detroit: Become Human. It knew exactly when to take a breather, to sit down with its characters and let small banter and quippy dialogue exchanges shape their characteristics. For example, I'll use my favourite arc in the game, that of Connor's. As a proclaimed "deviant hunter" sent by CyberLife to hunt down deviant androids, Connor's story is one of redemption and realization that fondly reminded me of the good portions of I, Robot - in particular, the android Sonny and his exploration of emotions, existentialism, and what constitutes emotion. Connor is a deeply complex character that continuously finds himself at crossroads throughout the story. His relationship with Lieutenant Hank Anderson flourishes as we begin to see these two unlikely partners form a strong bond depending on the actions you take in the story.
After taking the survey at the end of the game, I wasn't in the least bit surprised to see Connor as the fan-favourite character of choice.
...one simple lapse in judgment spiraled an entirely new branching narrative that - looking at the decision tree after the mission was over - I was overwhelmed at just how many options and choices I was given.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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