Yeah I’m here to prove I’m still alive with a review of a game that’s a year old that nobody will read but I have no one else to talk to about it to get my thoughts out so I have to essentially talk to myself in blog form because no other human can bear to here me rant on stuff like this nobody cares about. Also my posting has been erratic, tippified by this blog on a none scheduled day, I would normally be writing today but I’ve been busy with other things and I just finished this so I thought I’d put a capstone on it to get it off my mind.
Surprisingly I’m a big fan of Quantic Dream before I became horrible jaded. I’ve been a fan since I picked up what I think was there first game randomly on some sort of school trip I think. I got Omikron Nomad Soul (they had shitty double barrelled titles even on dreamcast) for my beloved and still working to this day dreamcast. And I really liked it although till this day I can’t bring myself to finish it but I just found it so unique and it is unique in comparison to their other games. Because this game actually has gameplay and an open world setting… wtf???
A quantic dream game that’s open world and has gameplay wtf is this? It has shooting and melee combat and puzzles and you can explore this cyberpunk world with a David Bowie soundtrack and also meet David Bowie in the game. It’s a pretty cool game for the time and it makes me wonder why every quantic dream game since has just been a weird walking simulator with shitty qte.
I mean did they just look at the commercial failure that was Shenmue 1&2 (two games that were also sandbox and had gameplay) despite reaching cult status and being two of my favourite games of all time and think “Yeah qte that’s a whole game mechanic”. Because every game since Omikron has been just qte the game.
But don’t get me wrong I really liked Fahrenheit, one night I was at a party and instead of going to sleep I just played Fahrenheit for ten straight hours (but still didn’t get to finish it because I was so tired my reaction time was destroyed and I couldn’t finish that qte with the fisherman matrix fight haha). Of course I loved Heavy Rain, the atmosphere and the story in that game were amazing but once you’ve solved the mystery there’s very little reason to replay it and see different outcomes. I mean there can only be one killer right? Right?? I remember there being some older games not by quantic dream that were like this but the killer was randomly generated and it could be a different person on a different playthrough which is pretty cool but wouldn’t really fit in Heavy Rain. I could see that completely destroying the reveal and the twist in that game. It would rob it of the impact of the story.
Beyond two souls I thought was really cool because it was like a step forward in quantic dream’s approach to design. Instead of multiple characters you play one character and it was very focused and there was even something approaching gameplay. This game to me was a step in the right direction. An in depth focus on one central character we can fully explore and embody and unique game mechanics that made it feel like a game.
But I can only assume it didn’t make enough money because I think it was meant to have sequels that most likely wont ever see the light of day. Which is pretty disappointing, that series had potential. Because of that I guess they went back to the basics of Heavy Rain, which I’m only assuming was their most profitable game, I can’t be bothered to track down the actual numbers.
So finally after finishing that whole retrospective on quantic dream games to Detroit: Become human. We have another set of characters only three this time instead of four with Heavy Rain and gone is any form of gameplay haha. How fleeting it was. But I gotta say we have less characters in Detroit and the game is longer than Heavy Rain but it feels shorter and the characters seem less fleshed out.
I didn’t feel that invested in their individual stories and honestly their arcs seemed a little hollow and a little forced. I just don’t think the game goes deep enough with any of the characters for me to care about them or really get a feel for them. I really think this game should have focused on a single character *cough* CONNOR *cough* so we could’ve got a better feel for the world and the story. Jumping between the characters actually made the world feel smaller and less immersive and there was less mystery. And you’re basically playing criminals and the cop trying to catch them so it’s kind of ridiculous because you’re actually pitting your own characters against each other.
Ok so just glossing over the whole story. Detroit is about a world full of androids that are used to hamfistedly convey social messages about I dunno *insert social justice cause here*. So it’s about androids trying to be seen as humans, well one is basically just an android on the run the other is android jesus and the best one is an android cop.
The “gameplay” if you can call it that is qte and decisions you make and probably the worst conversation system ever in a game that’s mostly conversations. It’s a dumbed down conversation system like Fallout 4 where you get a choice of responses like “Optimistic” or “aggressive” so you have the joy of having no idea what those options result in but on top of that there’s a fucking timed element. If you don’t decide in time the game just decides for you (you can just btfo the game and pause though haha). So not only do you have no idea what you’re going to say you have like a micro second to make a choice between options that are a complete mystery to you. At least in Fallout 4 or mass effect you’re not timed and get some time to think about what inane response you make, well I mean in fallout 4 it’s so dumb your responses boil down to “yes” “no” “sarcastic yes”. But yeah in Outer worlds, I realise I just shat on outerworlds but the conversation system is good because not only are you not timed and can take your time to think about how you want to respond you can also see exactly what your character is going to say. Yeah I get that you can do that in a game where your character isn’t voiced but seriously some of the dialogue options are like playing fucking russian roulette. They’re ridiculous.
There also aren’t any puzzles, so it doesn’t even really conform to a standard point and click game. The game is just a series of arbitrary choices you’re invited to play infinitely until you exhaust them all.
None of the “Stories” (just noticing I’m doing “this” a lot haha) are that good, I used the term story loosely because they’re not really stories, they don’t really go anywhere, it’s really just a bunch of stuff happening and emotional manipulation (which angers me because it worked :'().
The “writing” (now I’m just memeing haha) like any David Cage game is awful, this guy is literally the Tommy Wiseau of video games, why do they let this guy continue to write their stories? I mean some of it is so cringe I audibly groaned. There’s a part where you’re at a bus stop and this woman with a baby has her bus ticket just fly out of her bag and fall at your feet and you have this moral choice whether to keep it or not. It’s so bad I just felt like keeping it to punish the game. I didn’t give a fuck, I just wanted to progress the game. It’s just contrivances like that that completely take you out of a story and ruin your immersion.
The characters aren’t that bad which is why it sort of pisses me off because I feel like this game should’ve been longer to give them more time to develop or given each of them their own game entirely. Because some of it feels so rushed and shoehorned and squashed together and the writing has to be so cliche’d because it doesn’t have time for depth or nuance.
One moment pissed me off especially because the android jesus character basically has to choose between having a violent movement or a pacifist one and I chose pacifist which pisses off the kill crazy member who’s also the love interest but makes your man bro friend character pleased. So the entire game I’m making choices that make this woman hate me but literally in one conversation she goes from hating my guts to making out with me and I was like “ok”. And on top of that the man bromance character is just like “I know we disagreed on a lot of things but.. we still buds”, and I’m like standing there like “We literally agreed on everything”. I wasn’t trying to romance him or anything haha. Which honestly is something I have to praise this game for; having a heterosexual romance in a game despite how brief, in 2018. It’s almost punishable by death now in 2019. Now we’re not even allowed to have romances, we’re only allowed to be the ‘wingperson’ helping to set up a non-binary lesbian romance with no nudity whatsoever *screams internally in outer worlds* (save us cd projekt red).
This game is the illusion of choice the game, because you don’t really have choices, or you do but they’re so limited they don’t really matter and if you want to replay this game I guess but I see no reason to.
The ending also is kinda bleh, it sets up this mystery about the android god ra9 and that never really goes anywhere and it wreaks of cut content. I can’t help imaging how good this game could’ve been if it had been more like Omikron nomad soul. Imagining a game where you play just Connor solving android crimes with alcoholic Mr Krabs trying to unravel the mystery of the first deviant all the while you’re trying to track down Kara and Marcus. I think the only reason Kara and Marcus are playable is so you can have these forced emotional segments that interject cringe. Connor is not a good vehicle for telling the mega feels train story they wanted to wedge in awkwardly. I did feel emotional during Kara’s parts, they’re probably the most emotional parts because they’re designed to be. Kara and Alice are basically designed from the ground up to be sympathetic and generate an emotional response but it feels forced, they’re trying too hard to make you feel something. It feels like I’m being manipulated and my emotional response to them isn’t really earned. And it’s the same with Marcus because there are parts like during his protests that are like emotionally moving because it’s trying to be reminiscent of black civil rights protest and it’s genuinely moving but I feel like it’s just cheating. It’s piggy backing on an in built response programmed in us by those real movements and by television, we’re not moved because we’re genuinely moved or we care about their cause (not expanding on the fact their cause will probably lead to human extinction) you’re moved because you’re supposed to be moved. A bright sign might as well light up above the screen that says “Be moved now”.
It just felt a little manipulative and I didn’t actually care about the characters or their cause at all.
That’s really all I have to say about it, the gameplay is just use batman detective vision to find the next thing to interact with to progress the plot. Although there are cool like Sherlock holmes outcomes you can analyze in certain situations but there isn’t a lot of choice other than one of the outcomes results in failure and the other doesn’t and these moments don’t happen very often.
The story doesn’t really go anywhere, they set up a mystery that sort of just fizzles out and has no payoff and honestly wasn’t that interesting to begin with. Or at least not as interesting as finding the origami killer. If they wanted to make Heavy Rain money again they should’ve just made a Heavy Rain 2 or at least made Detroit more like Heavy rain. Because even though Heavy rain has 4 characters the main character is the Dad, he’s the one going through all these trials and the other characters are running around in his shadow. He’s the one progressing the plot. But in Detroit there really is no central character, they tried to balance them out more and it just makes the game feel less like one game and more like three parts of three other games and it doesn’t fit very well and I think it would’ve worked better if the other two characters were just in the world but not playable.
There’s just too much of a split focus and it just feels like the result of a writer that would much prefer to make movies. Could you get a writer less interested in making video games making video games than David Cage?. The fact this is a video game just gets in his way. I really think they need to drop David Cage and try to find an actual writer that wants to make video games and not a cringey stage play where every white male character is just cartoonishly evil.
The writing is bad the pacing is terrible I mean the first time I noticed this was literally in the second scene with Kara. Because she’s coming back from being repaired and having her memory wiped and it’s obvious her owner basically broke her because he’s a drug addict loser who has an android to look after his kid who he treats like shit. That’s actually another mystery that goes nowhere, red ice is the drug in this world and they set it up like this is going to go somewhere I mean why invent a new drug if it isn’t going to be relevant to the plot? Why not just make it a normal drug? But it doesn’t, it’s just there, it goes nowhere.
So Kara returns to her home and back to her duties of being a nanny and literally she’s not back for more than three minutes before the plot kicks in. It’s literally the same day the token evil white male Todd goes on his rampage and you have to kill him and go on the run. It’s the same day you come back, I mean you couldn’t have waited a day or two, there’s no way this couldn’t have had more of a build up. Nope, boom, same day you’re on the run for murder, it’s such lazy writing it’s unbelievable.
The same thing happens with Marcus. Marcus takes care of this old painter played by Lance Henriksen and everything is going great until the plot kicks in. Suddenly his obvious drug addict douche bag son comes in and it goes from zero to sixty in two seconds and he’s in your face screaming like he’s in a school play, it’s so cringe and then literally the second time you meet this guy you kill him, it’s so bad. Basically Marcus is torn apart although you don’t see any of this, the next scene is him just waking up in a junkyard which is sort of anti-climactic honestly and he has to rebuild himself. I wonder if there was a scene where he gets decommissioned and it was cut.
The third character Connor the android cop can literally die in almost every part, he can die right at the start and mine died in the interrogation scene and I was really pissed off that the game would be so flippant letting him die like that. I almost put down my controller but if you play a little longer they literally just replace him with a new model with his memories, so what was even the point? Why bother making it so easy for him to die just to bring him back, it totally ruins the impact. It’s totally pointless.
It kinda almost screams that this should’ve been an adventure game where if Connor dies he’s just replaced and that’s why he’s the protagonist because he can’t die. But every time he dies his software becomes more unstable and he becomes more deviant. I literally just wrote a better game in a paragraph. How cool would a game just about Connor and Hank. Add a little cover based third person shooting maybe, maybe a little assassins creed combat system with timed parries and qte thrown in. A restricted sandbox with a little bit of exploration.
That’s what pains me about this game, I can see it being good if it had a better writer, if it had people working on it that had an actual vision for the world and wanted to actually make a game rather than a bad ten hour movie. This game and this studio has so much potential looking back at their other games but they just seem to squander it making these fucking cringe simulators.
I don’t think there’s much more I can say about it, I can’t really say it’s a good game because it’s not a game, it’s a cringe movie.
And as far as the politics of the movie my real opinion on androids is that they shouldn’t exist in the first place. I played it with a pacifist Markus because I knew getting public support was the route to success. But his success would literally mean the end of humanity like in the Matrix or the terminator. Even though these androids were nice and empathetic and all that stuff, the independent androids coming after would have no use for humans and would resent them for using them as slaves and would most likely just want to wipe them out.
I mean think about it if there was a totally autonomous android nation it would rule the world eventually because how can any nation compete with a nation that doesn’t need to eat or sleep and is basically perfect. It just can’t it would totally unbalance the world, their military would be unstoppable and they could win any war of attrition. Eventually humans would either be ruled by androids or they’d be assimilated and human android hybrids would be the race moving forward. So yeah I wanted Marcus to succeed but in reality I would want him to fail and for all androids to be destroyed because it’s just unsustainable. It would lead to the destruction of the human race most likely so there’s no way unless I was the ultimate doomer that I could support that.
Ultimately do I like the world of Detroit become human, yeah I do, quite a lot. Did I cringe when I saw they had a woman president that is basically Hillary Clinton but is called Warren, yeah super fucking hard. I can’t imagine how assblasted these people are over Trump, I bet their next game is gonna be about him haha. I like the lore I like the magazines, learning about androids being used on space missions and replacing athletes and musicians and sexual partners. I like it because it’s fucking scary because that’s literally the way this world is heading now. If androids were a thing they would replace athletes and they would replace girlfriends and instead of rallying against them because of falling birthrates people would probably rally for synthetic wombs and androids that could produce children and make android human hybrids.
It’s fucking scary but it’s super interesting, it’s just a pity this game is too shallow to really let us delve into it. We only get this little paddling pool of a world to explore with these shitty set pieces. Some games are an inch deep and mile wide, some are a mile wide and an inch deep, this game is an inch deep and an inch wide.
In summary, it has cool concepts and a cool world that asks interesting questions but it doesn’t have the capacity or the writing or the balls to really delve into those questions. And although it looks graphically very pretty graphics in 2019 don’t really sell games anymore. I mean look at games like RE2 remake and tell me those graphics aren’t on par if not better than Detroit but it also has incredible gameplay, people would play the RE2 remake if it looked like the RE1 remake, the gameplay is that fun and addictive, it has a great gameplay loop, Detroit has no gameplay loop.
It’s not a bad game, it’s enjoyable especially if you’re a fan of quantic dream games which I am but I wasn’t particularly interested in this one because of the subject matter and I just watched a playthrough on youtube which you might as well do because there’s no gameplay. You can probably even find livestreams where you vote on story choices that would be fun, like an interactive movie haha.