Is there a heart inside the chest of the android?
What do you see, machine or man?
Sing it with me now! That’s the perfect song to describe a game like Detroit: Become Human! It is also the first game I’ve played that started as a PlayStation exclusive before it branched out to PC.
I heard so many great things about it, for its rich story, characters and high replayability due to its variety of outcomes from countless paths. Even the smallest action makes a big difference in this game.
I’m so excited to dive into this one that while I was working, I struggled at first to know where to begin. I thought to myself, should I play through it a few more times before I start writing or is once enough to generate my honest thoughts? Well, no matter, I’ve figured it out now!
DBH is not like any game I’ve played, it’s a story that takes place in the year 2038 (which is not far from now) in the city of Detroit where humans and androids coexist together. The latter look just like humans but are required to dress in a way that indicates what they are and have an LED on the side of their faces so they can be easily distinguished from actual humans.
The androids are manufactured by the company Cyberlife and right away I noticed how they were being treated, set up on display in shops, parked on spots that look like bus terminals, and standing at the back of buses separated from the humans. Already there are tons of different versions designed to do tasks perfectly from construction to housework.
You can see that life isn’t completely perfect because some humans are struggling to live with androids as some of them have lost their jobs or simply refuse to accept being replaced in a way.
This game’s story focuses on three particular androids: Connor, Kara, and Markus and this is where we decide where the story goes and there are many different paths it can take. However, the summary I can give you regardless of what choices are made in the game, is that you guessed it, androids eventually rise up against their creators in hopes of being treated equally. That is if you choose to make it that way.
The moment I got into the gameplay, I knew I was going to love this game as it suits the story so well. It just makes the game’s story feel like an amazing experience that has many times where you will be on the edge of your seat. The game’s prologue for instance, had Connor searching for clues regarding the unorthodox android who took a child hostage and the whole time, the game would show me how high my chances of success would be in saving the child if that’s what I wanted to do.
I couldn’t help but notice there’s a mechanic in this game that is very similar to Dragon Age’s companion approval system, especially in the third game. Whenever I made certain choices in the game, it would affect each main character’s relationship with other androids and humans, as well as the public’s overall opinion. It was also cryptic and there was no way to tell what the exact level of it was, it would either increase or decrease a little or a lot depending on what I did.
So, one aspect does involve searching for clues. Then there are basic interactions to follow objectives, almost like everyday life in the beginning. Sometimes, particular actions or searching will show I’ve unlocked an additional path in dialogue that can turn the tide in a way and affect how other NPCs see me.
What really got me excited was when I had to make any quick verbal or physical reactions in the game. Seriously, after that intense prologue, I knew I was going to love this game.
Dialogue choices are often vague, sometimes the only indication I get on what the options are is what tone I use to respond unless I’m in something very specific or asking a question. Critical choices are often timed and will have a depleting bar forcing me to make a quick reaction in combat or conversation, these can result in the automatic selection or even character death if I don’t act quickly. Like the time Kara and Alice were crossing the highway. If I didn’t press those buttons fast enough, they would have both died. And that’s the beauty of this game, if a major character dies, the story still continues.
There is so much to say regarding characters and each of the main androids has a different conflict and their development in the game is entirely up to the player. Of all the three androids to play as Connor is my favourite. He is a prototype taking a more active role in investigations with the police. I wish I could do tricks with a coin like that! He’s programmed to hunt deviants but players can choose to make his software instability increase which makes him start to question what he’s meant to do and that can even make him into a deviant himself. Or you can just stick to him following orders the entire time which decreases instability, it’s up to you. I would sometimes go back and forth between this until something finally made me slip and want him to be more human. I think that’s why I like him the most, he can be stuck forever as a puppet for Cyberlife or can be made to eventually turn against his creators if that’s what you choose to do.
Hank is a cop with alcohol addiction and I tried to make Connor befriend him, it took a while but in a critical moment towards the game’s end, I was able to keep him on my side based on what Connor had learned about him and his distrust for androids. So yeah, Hank is another one of those damaged types of characters I like. I feel like deep down he does have a caring side since he once had a son name Cole and has loyal dog named Sumo. He also likes heavy metal too!
Kara started off as a housekeeper type of android but depending on the direction you take the story, she can become a mother figure for Alice, a little girl being abused by her father Todd. I felt like Alice deserved better and learned something shocking about the latter late into the game.
Markus I wasn’t into him at first and saw he started as a caregiver for an elderly man named Carl who was a successful painter. When I met Markus my reaction was oh look it’s Jackson Avery! Since it’s the same actor and all. He can become head of the underground organization called Jericho full of androids who no longer wish to be treated as slaves. Markus can either lead the uprising peacefully or violently but I was always torn about what to do sometimes and I ended up killing him off in my first playthrough! I do regret that a little because when North took over, all she wanted was to go to war!
Like I said, so many richly developed characters in this game, some other characters I loved were Ralph, Chloe, and Elijah Kamski. I wish we got to see more of Elijah in this game because he was just love at first sight for me, even if he is considered evil and totally egocentric. (just like Karl!) Even though he created Cyberlife, he has now completely ignored the fact that his creations are running amok and rebelling against their creators and he just isolates himself with his creations.
I definitely didn’t like Gavin Reed, he was an asshole, but I certainly can’t loathe him because he is played by Neil Newbon after all. I recognized that laugh, it’s great that Neil plays both him and Elijah in this game!
It’s really hard to pick the best parts in this game because of the endless amounts of outcomes, even if the story has the same route in mind. But each of Connor, Kara, and Markus’s storylines had parts that stood out for me. It took me more than one playthrough to really figure those things out.
Of course, I loved the part meeting Elijah for the first time, it felt like a critical turning point for Connor at his level of stability in his software, especially if one chooses to make him slowly become a deviant. I couldn’t bring myself to kill Chloe, she was so sweet and innocent and I didn’t believe Elijah was going to answer any questions. He was just being manipulative. It seems like such a small choice but it leaves an impact more than I realized.
Another part in Connor’s storyline that I enjoyed was when he attempts to build his relationship with Hank, like after Eden Club with the Tracis. There was an intense conversation between them overlooking the city where Hank questions Connor about whatever choice he made back at the club. Then there were the parts before like where Connor finds Hank drunk in his house and learns about his addiction and his son’s death. There’s like a father-son relationship growing between them if certain choices are made. Above all, I just enjoyed other parts too like chasing down other deviants!
Kara’s storyline had some really heartfelt parts to it like it felt really easy for me to make choices that would build Alice’s trust for her. Even if I’m not a mother, as a woman, it’s just a natural instinct. It was no contest choosing to save Alice from her abusive father, but I made them either sleep at the motel or squat with Ralph. Robbing the store for the former I wanted to do it in the most non-violent way possible!
Then going to Zlatko’s house was another suspenseful part as had to search for Alice before the time limit was up and either sneak past him or set fire to the room. I’ve already tried different approaches to this. But, the sweetest part of their adventure was when they took shelter in the abandoned theme park and the android employees reactivated the carousel for Alice to ride.
On my first playthrough, I did everything I could to keep them alive until they crossed the border but somehow they still managed to get caught and they were both shot. It must have been the public’s hostile opinion towards androids. That was when I realized that the public opinion level needed to be more supportive in order to be friendlier towards androids like those trying to flee to Canada.
One of the best parts of Markus’s story is when he and North break into the Cyberlife store after successfully disabling the alarm and the drone. Then he spoke to the freed androids there and led them through the plaza outside to protest peacefully.
Alternatively, I could have also started a riot but that’s not something I wanted to do on my second run of this game so yeah. I thought for certain that I was going to be spotted by that drone but I managed to act quickly enough to destroy it.
Another great moment in Markus’s game is when he broadcasts his speech across the entire city. Here I didn’t feel any pressure to make quick decisions that weren’t always in my favour of what I wanted my overall focus of a playthrough to be. It makes it seem to other androids listening that Markus is rA9: something they believe in.
So that brings me to the ultimate question, who is our antagonist in this game? Some say that Connor is like a villain protagonist since he is assigned by Cyberlife to investigate the deviant activity.
Others say it’s Richard Perkins for leading the attack on Jericho or Amanda for being able to take control of Connor or deactivate him at any point in time should he shift away from his investigation.
Then I came to believe that Elijah Kamski is considered the true overarching antagonist of this game and rA9 that the deviants have been writing on the wall to. As the founder of Cyberlife, he created the androids to serve humanity. After his company grew into a massive success to where he was appointed Man of the Century, he abruptly resigned as CEO and went to live in solitude in his private villa among his many Chloes and never allowed visitors. I guess he didn’t care that the androids he created were planning a revolution.
He instead chose to simply believe that his creations would never pose a threat to humanity until he learns about the deviants and stated an uprising as inevitable. It’s almost as if he is remaining neutral in the conflict. His main focus is to have his androids act as obedient machines to replace humans in the most repetitive tasks so that humans can spend more time enjoying life. There was even a desire he mentioned wanting to have the perfect partners for humans in every way possible due to their obedience. I think that is why he tried to order Connor to shoot Chloe to see where his loyalty lies.
There are two kinds of evil people in the world, people who do evil things and people who witness those evil things occur and don’t try to intervene, I think Elijah belongs to the latter.
So he chooses to be solitary, sans androids. Then again, I did have a dream where his Chloes let me come and stay at his villa, Elijah eventually discovered my presence and was far too infatuated with me to kick me out. I guess he was reminded that as flawless as the pleasure androids can provide, nothing compares to another human being. But that was only a dream and other people who have reviewed this game or discussed it on forums may disagree with my opinion on who’s the antagonist, but I think we can all agree that this game has multiple ones. Elijah just seems to be the type of villain representing the big picture.
In spite of it all, I still fell in love with Elijah anyway because he just had a certain charm to him that I was vulnerable to, or as my friend says, consider the following: Neil.
Villainous characters seem to easily penetrate my heart lately!
Overall, I loved this game to the core, it has an amazing soundtrack, endless options that make it completely replayable, richly developed characters that continue to grow based on choices, and amazing storytelling in any way you choose to make it. It also had such gripping gameplay that changed constantly to suit the story’s direction so I wasn’t bored. It’s more than earned a perfect score from me.