Since we’re less than a month away from the official release date of Detroit Become Human, Quantic Dream has decided to tease us all and release a free demo on the PSN Store. It’s not much – it covers one mission, and if you only play it through once, it’ll take you about ten to fifteen minutes to complete, but that depends if you blitz your way through, or if you stop to examine everything in the environment.
I’ve decided to give my thoughts a quick write up; considering this is one of my most anticipated games of 2018, I’ve got a lot of them! Please be warned, there will be spoilers for the demo contained below.
This first mission involves Connor, one of three playable characters in the final game, stepping in to negotiate a hostage situation; an android has snapped, killed a few people, taken the daughter of the family he works for, hostage, and is threatening to jump from the roof of the apartment. Connor has to examine evidence at the crime scene, talk to people to get more information, and try to talk down the android outside. So far, that’s pretty standard stuff, and nothing we haven’t seen from the likes of Beyond: Two Souls.
What is nice, though, is the UI that’s been adapted to look like android technology, plucking information from a database to give accurate information about wounds and human anatomy, which was a nice touch. Connor also for some reason has the ability to recreate events by piecing evidence together, then winding and rewinding the scenario through something like a video recorder, where you use L2 and R2 to move back and forth in the timeline until you find the evidence you need. It’s a robotic twist on a staple of the detective genre, and I’m excited to see where they go with it.
While graphically and vocally, this demo is beautiful, my attention was mostly drawn to what’s called the “flow chart,” which you’ll unlock after completing the demo the first time, and it’ll spell out just how many ways the chapter can end, or different events you can unlock. Previous games have had a handful of variant endings for events, but not a lot that impacts you the entire way through the story, and Detroit looks like they have a myriad of them. Even for the demo, it ups the replayability massively, so I’m presuming there will be the opportunity for multiple playthroughs for the full game, which by all accounts will run for 25 – 30 hours.
My handful of issues mostly stem from that, for a demo, this isn’t particularly exciting. You’re dealing with a linear mission where the primary goal is to watch someone else do something interesting, and considering we don’t get to see a lot of Connor, his presence can’t make up for it. Apart from the UI and the subtle hints of a race divide we see, this demo could be from literally anything – a police drama, a soap opera, even a superhero film. The aesthetics of the game are mostly cold and chrome, with plenty of just unfamiliar enough technology that are immediate cues that we’re only a handful of years into the future, like the octagon pattern designs, and every mobile device being a sleek flat screen.
Although this is just stemming from the demo, the plot and characters seem firmly in the cliched category, which is incredibly disappointing to see. The main premise for this mission that the family android, Daniel, bonded with the family’s daughter, and has now gone rampant because they’re replacing him with a new one, and he wants to be treated like a human that matters. This is nothing new, treading on old, tired tropes that have been done to death, and would require incredibly strong and interesting characters to breathe some life back into it – it’s not what I was hoping for.
That being said? It is just a demo. I’m excited for the full release, and hopefully the bigger picture will be bright and colourful, instead of cliched and chrome.