Gaming

Explore race and morality in this 'movie'

Detroit: Become Human is a drama action-adventure game which is played almost entirely using quick time events.
Detroit: Become Human is a drama action-adventure game which is played almost entirely using quick time events.

Detroit: Become Human (rated M18) is a drama action-adventure game set in the American city of Detroit in 2038. In this future, androids (human-looking robots) have been invented and introduced to society, doing jobs ranging from nanny to detective.

This has led to friction. Humans hate the androids for taking away jobs and have started to abuse them, thinking they are just machines.

At the same time, the androids have started to feel empathy, leading to the question: Are they no longer machines but another race?

This question is a focal point ofthe game, which seeks to explore the issues of race, civil rights, artificial intelligence, ethics and morality.

You play three android characters - Connor, Kara and Markus - in this game.

Connor is a detective tasked to investigate the rising number of deviants - androids with a mind of their own.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: From $64.90 (PS4 only)

    GENRE: Interactive drama action-adventure

    RATING: 8/10

Kara is a maid who is trying to protect a girl from her abusive father, while Markus is the caregiver of an old dying artist, who ends up leading the android rebellion.

The opening chapter in which Connor has to deal with a hostage situation gives players a good tutorial on the gameplay, like how to look for clues and execute quick time events or QTEs(by pressing a button or turning a joystick according to on-screen prompts).

However, while these make for an exciting start, the rest of the opening hour can be slow and painful.

Often, you are just doing QTEs to complete menial tasks like washing dishes or helping the elderly man out of bed, especially in the case of Kara and Markus.

Maybe it is a way for gamers to marvel at the incredibly detailed and finely crafted characters and environment of the game.

From the freckles of the skin to the texture of clothing, the photo-realism of each character is breathtaking. The music and audio effects are also top-notch. It is like watching a movie, but one that you have some control over.

Thankfully, the pace picks up after the backstories of all three characters have been introduced. And you will want to continue playing as you want to know how their fates will ultimately intertwine.

The actors and actresses who lent their voices, as well as facial and body motion-captures to the game, did a splendid job in conveying the emotions that are critical to the game. You can identify with each character's struggles, regardless of whether he is playable or not.

The game does not have an open-world premise like some role-playing games. But by exploring the location or talking to someone, you can unlock options that might not otherwise be available. After finishing each chapter, a flow chart will appear, showing the options you have unlocked.

There are plenty of moral decisions to make. For example, in one instance, Connor is asked to kill an android in exchange for a vital clue.

Will you kill a member of your own race for the mission or spare the android and jeopardise the investigation? It is up to you.

There is no right or wrong decision. But each decision you make as a character will also affect the path of the other two.

It is also a great way for you to replay the game once you finish it, to see if you can get alternate endings when you make different decisions.

To complete this review, I finished the game in 12 hours with minimal exploration and lightning-quick decisions.

However, I kept thinking how things would have fared if I had chosen a different path. You will most definitely want to replay it to see what other paths you can take.

On the downside, the paths are set like multiple choices. It is not as open-ended as it could have been. There are times when I would rather have another choice.

Not to mention, the game is played almost entirely using QTEs. And many gamers are not exactly big fans of QTEs.

I also made some wrong decisions during the game because I tapped on the wrong button too quickly.

• Verdict: Detroit: Become Human has no competitors in terms of presentation and story-telling. In terms of gameplay, it might not suit gamers accustomed to more control.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2018, with the headline 'Explore race and morality in this 'movie''. Print Edition | Subscribe