Androids and our relationship to technology (and perhaps, more generally, to difference) are explored, if not challenged, in this wonderful game that puts us in the shoes of three android characters. The game has fantastic production values – cinematic quality of visuals and carefully produced soundtrack. However, for me, the story is the most important. The narrative here has a lot to offer. And has a lot of heart, it is genuine.
- Follow the story of 3 characters in alternating episodes focused on each
- story mechanics fits the concept to a T – how fitting it is to have a narrative about androids making choices in a choice-based gameplay? Elements of scene investigation and action sequences are included.
- Theme: androids and our relationship to technology, attitude towards those that are different
- Choices matter
- Flowchart that keeps track of your choices
- An AI companion in the main menu screen – and something happens to it
- Visuals and soundtrack – top quality, wonderful locations
- Gallery of various extras, including stories of several side characters.
I absolutely love this game.
When I first played Mass Effect, I was fascinated by the breath of its ideas that included, among other things, the relationship between the creator and the created. In Mass Effect, however, we are human characters who need to decide what we make of the conflicts between organic and inorganic form and what lesson and conclusions we draw from it. I still think it’s a really great aspect of Mass Effect and a well-written story with lots to think about while playing. That’s why it’s so engaging, and that’s what makes it so epic for me.
In Detroit, an equally engaging and delightful, affecting story, we get to experience the other side by controlling three different android characters whose fate brings them together…but how it all plays out depends on our choices. The story begins at the brink of android revolution, with clear signs of instability and tensions everywhere. I love attention to details, and this games takes care of little things. We can observe signs of tensions in the streets, in relationships between androids and their owners whom the characters pass on the streets.
The three characters are
- Connor- mission-oriented, may develop friendship with detective Hank. I love that friendship
- Marcus- great father-son story with Karl. Leader and saviour of androids
- Kara – family story, protects a little girl but there’s more to this.
Connor is an android for special tasks. Kara and Marcus are both caretaker models. Their starting circumstances are considerably different.
We begin the game with Connor, who is sent to negotiate with a destabilised android – deviant holding hostage the daughter of its owners. It’s a great beginning that puts us right in the middle of things, and the anticipation and interest it builds doesn’t let go until the end.
Connor is mission-oriented, yet even his initial choices destabilise that view and set the stage for his long and engaging struggle. The outcome of that first opening scene, however, may challenge attachment to the protagonist. It can die. But the story has to continue. Is it still the same “person” if it does die in the initial scene, and then a different model with the same memories appears? I did what I could to keep him alive because I felt it was important; in some way, I felt he was an individual already. Regardless, Connor takes the longest time to make a decision about who and what he is, and as such I find it to be the most appealing character and a clear favourite, much as I love all three.
We take turns shifting between episodes focusing on individual characters. After meeting Connor, the story moves to Kara for the introduction and then to Marcus. Kara and Marcus are very quick to start questioning their programming and orders.
Between the two of them, I love Marcus’ backstory. He takes care of an old man, Karl and their relationship is more like that of a father and son. Karl teaches Marcus about what it means to be human and lets him develop and show his artistic sensitivity. It’s endearing to see, even more so towards the end, if you keep Karl alive (you can make that choice) – it’s worth it. Karl does have a son, whose jealousy of Marcus is heightened by his own inability to deal with life. He resents Marcus for being a “plastic toy”, a stance which reflects that of most humans and highlights the rising tensions. Marcus has the spirit of a leader however, and he brings the story together as all major events that also involve all other characters, focus on him. Later parts reveal something about him, Karl and the man who made the androids.
Kara starts in the android shop until her owner comes to pick her up – and it’s very clear there’s history there. She follows her maternal “instincts” as she seeks to protect a little girl. It’s an emotional story and there’s a great twist that asks us to consider if it really matters what she and her companions are, humans or androids, when they are a family.
Connor is sent to aid Hank, a scruffy detective with a problematic attitude towards androids, in his investigation. They may develop a friendship or remain enemies. I was really most invested in Connor’s narrative because it was clear he was making his own decisions while being in denial and I chose to let him be Hank’s friend – it’s a wonderful friendship too, one I would even describe as healing. The culminating point is heartfelt and wonderful too and it also, to some extent, confirmed I made the right choice in caring whether Connor stayed alive. He may have reported some things to CyberLife, the company behind androids, but there are things only he knows, doesn’t share and as such those memories become irreplaceable and individual to him alone, not some other connor model. I absolutely loved this. But there are many tests for his humanity and several climatic and crucial points of his story are among my favourite parts.
On top of individual stories and little details enhancing the mood of rising tensions, there’s the political layer and how politicians deal with the situation, which starts resembling dark moments from human history. The in-game politicians are quick to dismiss that view, there’s even a press conference where we can choose four questions to ask. In general, the narrative does make one think about more than androids. It’s about being different. The words that are purposefully used by characters like Karl’s “Humans are just fragile machines” (one of my favourite lines) are also telling.
Overall, I’d say the story is engrossing, engaging all the way from the beginning to the end and heartfelt. The choice-based system for a game about androids is absolutely perfect, in tune with the ideas behind the story. You can unlock extras, including music and image galleries, the production values are fantastic.
A fantastic, worthwhile game, with a good topic and engaging execution, one I will return to over and over.
It runs well on my Legion 5 laptop, but the machine tends to heat up more quickly when this game is on. But the game runs smoothly, and I experience no lag.