Four years ago, Quantic Dream (the studio behind Heavy Rain, and BEYOND: Two Souls) released a PS3 tech demo called Kara, which centered around an android who discovered that she could actually feel emotions (think Ex Machina). Following the demo, fans and the developer alike were curious as to what happened to her after she left the factory. Fast forward to PlayStation’s Paris Games Week conference last October, and the project was officially unveiled as the PS4 title Detroit: Become Human. Last week, Quantic Dream hit the stage at PlayStation’s E3 press conference with another gorgeous look at the game, this time featuring a new character.
Following the impressive presentation, we got a chance to attend a behind-closed-doors presentation of the game with Creative Director David Cage. We saw actual gameplay and learned more about the game’s mechanics. Here’s a rundown of what we know about Detroit: Become Human so far:
Not your average sci-fi
When you hear the word “android,” you think science fiction, right? We certainly did… that is, until the Creative Director stressed that the game is more of a neo-noir title than a sci-fi. According to Cage, Detroit is set in the near future, about 20 years from now. In this new reality, mankind has managed to create androids that look, speak and act like humans. In fact, they have normal jobs (just like you and me), and there are millions across the country. Considering the technological advancements we’ve already made in that field, a world of androids isn’t that hard to imagine.
But as with most stories that feature androids, something eventually goes wrong, but it isn’t what you think. In Detroit‘s case, the droids have started to experience emotions (essentially “becoming human”). We already saw it in Kara, wherein the titular robot began to recognize how terrible the world is. But that isn’t the only thing they’re feeling. Some commit suicide, and others become aggressive. The idea is an interesting subversion of the evil android trope that has permeated pop culture for years.
According to Cage, Quantic didn’t want to tell another story about androids turning into the bad guys. Instead, they’re switching perspectives; Detroit: Become Human will be examining what it looks like when androids are the “good guys” against mankind’s selfishness and dependence on its mechanical counterparts.
Beyond two androids
Take Connor (who was introduced in the E3 trailer), for instance. He’s an advanced prototype sent to help human investigators on cases involving deviant androids. He acts as a negotiator, which obviously doesn’t please everybody. Remember the lady from the video? When Connor reached his mission, the mother of the hostage being held by the deviant android was clearly upset by the fact that the police were bringing in an android to save her little girl. But because he doesn’t experience emotion, Connor sloughs it off and heads towards his mission, unperturbed.
Like Heavy Rain, Detroit follows multiple characters. Aside from Connor and Kara, we don’t know much about the others, or how many there even are. What we do know, however, is that they all have unique ways to deal with the situations they’ll be encountering, and that there will be several endings to the game. We got a good taste of what Connor will be up to in the extended demo.
As we already noted, he’s a negotiator. He also happens to be a gifted detective, thanks to the whole being-an-android thing. During the walkthrough, the developer demonstrated how Connor is able to do things like analyze a family photo to glean personal information, freeze time (and switch camera angles) to find points of interest in the surrounding area, reconstruct clues and past events, and more. The cool thing is that at any time during the mission, you’ll be able to check the probability of success. The number will gradually increase as you discover more clues and decrease if you misstep. This in turn encourages exploration and multiple plays through.
During the first attempt, Connor observed the apartment a bit before heading out to talk with the android. Unfortunately the information wasn’t enough, as the android ended up jumping off the roof while holding onto the little girl (just as he had in the trailer). It wasn’t until the second attempt that we realized how truly deep the experience will be. During it, Connor learned the android’s name, why he was upset, and even grabbed a weapon. Approaching Daniel (the android) was completely different this time around.
After discovering that Daniel was close to Emma (the little girl), and was distraught because he caught her parents looking for a replacement model, Connor used that information to reason with him (via timed dialogue trees). Though he ended up falling off the building with Daniel, he was able to save Emma in the process. The balcony scene was so intense, and packed with emotion, that it truly felt like we were watching a film play out.
Those were just two possible outcomes. According to Cage, missions can take several turns, resulting in a bunch of different endings. He also confirmed that all characters can die, but there is no game over situation. The good news is, you’ll be able to go back and retry missions if you want. With the game’s graphics and music also proving duly impressive, we can’t wait to learn more.
Are you planning on picking up Detroit: Become Human? What do you hope to see? Let us know in the comments below, join the conversation on Facebook, or start one with me on Twitter: @Samantha_Sofka.