Opinion of the Week: Why "Detroit Become Human," Is A Game Worth Playing
Detroit Become Human. It’s an odd name for a game with such an important narrative to offer. It’s a third person adventure, story-based game that follows a short period of time in the lives of three androids. Yes, androids. As in fully-functioning, human-like, intelligent beings. During the game, we follow their individual journeys towards realizing that they are alive, or rather, they have the capacity to feel emotions like empathy, rage, loss and love like any other intelligent life form.
A brief summary of Detroit’s main plot, the three subplots and how they tie in together.
Detroit is essentially a story about androids becoming cognizant and then fighting for equal rights. The games raises important ethical questions like, “Is it okay to treat AI like slaves when they’re capable of emotions?”
Connor is an advanced investigative android who attempts to solve the mystery of why Androids in the detroit area are “deviating,” (gaining consciousness and making independent decisions apart from their human owners). The choices you make during Connor’s investigations determine how if he himself will help the revolution and consequently determine the success of the android revolution.
Kara is a domestic housekeeper android who seeks refuge with Alice, a little girl, from an abusive home. The choices you make during escaping dangerous situations and finding safe havens don’t largely affect the main story like Markus’ choices do, but Kara’s choices determine whether or not you can be free and alive.
Markus is caretaker android turned leader of a revolution.The choices you make during his leadership determine how successful the android revolution is.
In terms of gameplay, Detroit is not a tricky game. There are dialogue choices and quick time events that can completely change the story and its ending but for the most part, if you thoroughly explore, choose kindness and pacifism and excel at basic quick time events, you should end up with a great outcome, with the android revolution succeeding and the main characters surviving. This isn’t the part of the game that’s so brilliant. What is so particularly brilliant about Detroit is how emotional the gameplay is (and how visually stunning it is). During my playthrough, I ended up killing two characters and crying. Despite that they weren’t my favorite characters, (in fact, I found them annoying), their deaths actually hurt me. Whether you attribute that pain to how they died (it was somewhat graphic) or the fact that characters you’ve been following for 13+ hours just died (think of a friend that annoys you, but you still care for them. They suddenly die. How do you feel?), it was the climax of this game.
When they died, a painful realization hit me. What makes this game so perfect and so devastating is that it’s real. Detroit isn’t like a game, it’s real life. There’s no do-overs (no immediate do-overs but there’s ways to get around this). There’s moments where you’re actually washing dishes or you’re debating whether or not to push someone back when they’re pushing you. This is a game with real consequences, like reality. With some games, when your character dies, the game takes you back to a checkpoint. This game doesn’t work like that. If you kill a character, the game moves along without them with consequences. That’s how life works. One thing that you do in the very beginning, early in your life or gameplay can largely affect something later down the road, even if it seemed trivial or unimportant at the time.
Detroit has been criticized for referencing too many historic moments and anecdotes. Detroit notably employs recognizable bits and pieces from the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement and the Holocaust to further its story. But these references are actually Detroit’s biggest strength. There’s moments when Markus may remind you of Martin Luther King Jr. There’s a moment where you see that there’s separate stairs and compartments in buses for androids. There’s a moment when the android revolution’s slogan may be “We Have a Dream.” There may be a moment when you have main characters stuck in android concentration camps reminiscent of Auschwitz. There will be a moment when you have to crawl your way out of an android extermination dump, where humans dump the bodies of androids that have no use anymore. There’s a moment where you can’t go into certain stores or bars because there is a “No Androids Allowed,” sign. There’s bias. There’s discrimination. There’s murder. There is everything that marginalized groups have had to live through at one point or another. I have not had to face much discrimination in my life, but I had to in this game. I could not escape it. I felt the disappointment, the injustice and the rage. And I could finally understand it. I could understand what individuals today face everyday.
Detroit teaches us to remember the past so that we can try and fix our present and so that we can try and protect our future. Like the android, Chloe, says at the start of the game, Detroit Become Human “is not just a story...it’s our future.” But it’s also our present. And you have control over how it and our future unfolds, so choose wisely.
Here's a Let's Play of Detroit Become Human! (SPOILERS!)
YouTube Channel Link: