Today I had the chance to play through the “Hostage” segment of Detroit: Become Human at PSX, and I’ve got to say, it got me interested. Before PSX I was fairly apathetic towards the title, having never played any of David Cage’s other games. The Playstation Presents footage from Friday’s keynote piqued my interest, and my weakness for detective stories and androids pushed me to finally give the game a look, and honestly, I’m glad I did.
If you haven’t seen the footage, the demo had me play as Connor, an android negotiator that the police use to reason with rogue, or “deviant” androids. A young girl has been taken hostage by her family’s android servant, Daniel, and is being held at gunpoint on the ledge of her family’s high-rise apartment balcony. The game brought me up to the apartment then left me to my own devices, telling me only to save the girl while suggesting ways to go about doing so.
I saw some players in the queue gathering some basic intel before going out to the balcony, but I decided to do some more thorough investigating, though I could tell the situation was getting more dire the longer I took. Regardless, I wandered around the apartment, scouring each room for clues and background information. Being able to recreate crime scenes on the spot is a useful ability that makes sense for an android, and it does its job in helping you see clues that may not have been obvious before. Reconstructing the girl’s father’s death, for example, showed me the location of the tablet he dropped when he was shot. Looking at this tablet told me that the family was going to replace Daniel, which plays a large part in his hysteria.
This information not only increases your chance of success (shown beside you whenever an impactful event happens), but it also unlocks additional dialogue options to use when negotiating with Daniel. I was able to appeal to his more emotional side by bringing up his love for the family’s daughter, which I could only have known by finding a video of the two enjoying a day at the park on the girl’s tablet. There are lots of unlockable dialogue options in this sequence alone, so I look forward to seeing the many ways I can approach each situation. I’m under no illusion that there are infinite possibilities as the game seems to promote, but from what I saw it seems like there’s a decent number of outcomes, so I look forward to seeing how many outcomes there actually are, and how different they turn out to be.
Of course if you want to just run straight onto the balcony with very little evidence, that’s an option too. Through careful negotiation and large doses of empathy I was able to talk Daniel down, but the police struck and killed Daniel before I could save him. I saw a variety of different outcomes; Connor can sacrifice himself to save the girl, or he can get shot by Daniel if he isn’t careful. Connor can shoot Daniel with a gun you find in the house, or he can fail completely and lost both the girl and Daniel. Apparently the story keeps going even if Daniel dies, but I couldn’t squeeze any more info out of the PlayStation employees monitoring the booth.
While I know David Cage isn’t known for his subtlety, the idea of integrating androids into a society not too different from our own appeals to me, even more so now that I’ve gotten to play Detroit myself. I’m impressed at the variety of approaches you can take, and I found there was a lot of decent world-building in that apartment alone. Connor’s coin trick that shows off his android reflexes, putting the dying fish back in his tank to show some android empathy, or finding household items that show what the average family in Detroit does every night. These little touches go a long way in making me interested in the game’s world, as minor as they may seem.
So while I went into PSX without thinking much of Detroit: Become Human, I walked out of the area with newfound interest in the title. While I’m definitely still cautious about the game (a lack of options in other segments or a particularly heavy-handed story could weigh the game down), I’m actually somewhat excited for the game now. Perhaps it’s my lack of experience with David Cage games, but I still can’t help but feel optimistic about Detroit. Time will tell if I’m right or wrong, but until we can get our hands on the full game, I’ll be busy learning that sick coin trick.
Detroit: Become Human releases for the PS4 in Spring of 2018.