E3 2017: Detroit: Become Human Hands On – Gut Punch Right to the Feels

Detroit: Become Human Hands On

Quantic Dream has been pursuing Detroit: Become Human in one form or another for a very long time. Starting way back in 2012 with the tech demo for Project Kara it evolved into Quantic Dream’s next big title since 2013’s Beyond Two Souls. While we’re still waiting for a release date on the game, I did get a chance to go hands-on with it at the Sony press event here at E3 2017. I, along with many others, have been patiently waiting to get even the smallest taste of what Quantic Dream’s next big game has to offer and I can say unequivocally that it will be well worth the wait.

If you’ve been following the game at all you’ll be familiar with the E3 2016 trailer that highlighted an Android attending to a hostage situation on a rooftop involving a little girl and a deviant Android. It was tense and gripping and it was exactly what I was able to play when I sat down with a member of the Quantic Dream dev team. Investigating the crime scene, an apartment that leads to the rooftop, I was able to piece together what lead up to the hostage situation. Using a clever and intuitive reconstruction mechanic I slowly started putting the puzzle together while being lead on to further discoveries. The further I went the more critical information I collected about both the deviant Android and the little girl it was holding over the edge of a rooftop.

A real life hostage situation has a time limit. If you’re a hostage negotiator you can’t afford to spend forever analyzing clues before things likely go horribly wrong. Much like that real life situation, I was forced to make the most of my time and gather as much information as possible before I had to begin negotiating. For every stitch of info I was able to reconstruct the higher my probability meter would go. Making it through most of the clues inside the apartment I ventured out onto that rooftop with a fairly high probability of success. The confidence I had as I stepped through the sliding glass doors was quickly swept away from under my feet.

Detroit: Become Human TOP SCREEN

After engaging with David, the deviant Android my probability of success plummeted to somewhere around 40% and it was here where I realized that not only might this little girl actually die but that I truly cared. And to be clear, not only did I care about the girl but I cared about David. The narrative had deftly lead me to sympathize with the ‘villain’ and my desire to get him out of the situation was high. Carefully thought out responses eventually had me lying to him, knowing full well that my promises would not ring true in the end.

Eventually, David let the little girl go and while I’d promised he’d be ok I knew the second he let go that gunshots would ring out from the adjacent rooftops and that he would fall. The brilliance of all this was that I felt horrible. Palms sweating and sitting on the edge of my seat I knew right then and there that Quantic Dream was truly working on something special. We see a lot of games that promise a lot of things but not many of them can make you feel with such intensity.

Walking away from that demo and now, another day later, I can’t stop thinking about the game. I can’t stop thinking about how I might try and do things differently should I play again. Can I save David? Is there another way? The fact is that there is. Others I spoke with saw a number of different endings and each of them walked away with that visceral feeling of wishing you could have done things differently.

It’s very likely going to be a while before we can actually play Detroit: Become Human at home but for anyone who is a fan of Quantic Dream’s work, most especially Heavy Rain, you should be keeping a sharp eye out for this one.