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May 27th - Becoming Human

I haven’t done a detailed gameplay diary for years now… they tended to be overblown affairs as I was, more often than not, playing through some 90+ hour epic that would take me weeks… not the most riveting thing to work through as a reader… but I feel my latest game could work out fairly well in this format… not too long, and I won’t work through any of the subsequent further plays in any sort of detail unless something staggering crops up.

There will be spoilers along the way, but as the game released almost a year ago (probably over a year by the time this is posted, 25th May 2018 was the actual date) I figure this shouldn’t be an issue… the game in question…

Detroit: Become Human

May 21st

A brief history lesson… I have never gotten on with Quantic Dreams games… to me David Cage is a sad little prick with a huge chip on his shoulder who tries to make his games so cinematic that the “game” bit is lost along with the enjoyment… not everyone will share this view, but while I want a good story I also want to enjoy myself.

In the past I played Fahrenheit (or Indigo Prophecy of US players) on the original Xbox, it started well with the scene where you clean up after a murder, and even the saving the kid after his fall into the water was okay… but I lost interest when you discover that part of your mission is to keep a depressed cop from killing himself… yay for fun!

I tried starting Heavy Rain, played through the opening scene, then the infamous “Jason” scene in the shopping mall where you try and find the most annoying (and clearly dumb as f**k) kid in the world only to see him get crushed on the road because the stupid little prick wouldn’t stand still for 10 seconds when he got a balloon… but then the next scene kicked in and blow me it was dull… in a driving scene I don’t want to have to put my seatbelt on, check the mirrors, turn the key, release the hand brake… and so on before the scene moves on… sorry… too freaking dull.

I have Beyond Two Souls, thanks to PS+ (although maybe for not much longer given their recent selection of freebie titles on offer) and all that, but with my history it doesn’t even make it into my backlog… which now stands at 51 games.

I played the demo of Detroit as the story seemed interesting, I’m sure there will be some who use the whole hatred of Androids and the way it’s depicted as being a metaphor for racism and so on… don’t care for that, the story looks good… and the demo was interesting enough for me to buy the full game… then I fell ill and it’s sat untouched until today.

Playing the full game the polish is evident, from the way you pick your setting to the opening credits after the first (exactly the same as the demo) playable scene… the first few are all just scene setting really, Connor saving (maybe) the child at the start, Markus’s role as aide/carer for the elderly artist Jack and Kara as a domestic slave who has recently been repaired following an “accident” at home.

After each scene you get a flowchart of how it panned out, you can see how your decisions compared to others whether among your friends (and in my case only 1 appears to have played the game) or everyone who played it… this also shows which items or events you missed.

In one scene I was told to find something to do whilst Jack ate, so I read a book, now this was the first thing that I was offered but there were two other choices which may affect the story in a different way.

I like the flowchart idea, but it does demonstrate how linear some of the game can be… an example…

Markus’s first scene is him collecting painting materials from a store, while you start the scene in a park you can’t wander off to, say, the fountain you can see because the game puts a red wall there saying your destination is not in that direction, this happened a lot in this scene, and I was stopped from looking in different stores because the game didn’t want me to go there… the flowchart at the end showed an event happening that I’m almost 100% sure you can’t avoid simply because of where it takes place in relation to your secondary destination.

Yet I’m enjoying what I’ve played… even if the Trophy names are all capitalised and it triggers the OCD element in me.

While I do have a walkthrough, two in fact one with and one without spoilers, my initial run is going to be unaided… I want to discover the story for myself without any hints or prods from a guide… from the intro to the guide the Platinum will require two runs and a little tidying up later on, and I like the idea of seeing everything the developers have included.

May 22nd

Another half a dozen sections and the story starts to open up… while Connor is a definite oddity at this point both Kara and Markus have broken their programming and disobeyed, naturally in both cases the consequences were less than ideal… but had they been good we wouldn’t have the game.

While Connor may be the oddity, he’s also the character with the most freedom… this may be down to his role as a member of the police force and that the scenes in which he takes part are the most involved and what made me pick the game up in the first place… the examination of the crime scene I played through was excellent even if they move around like a badly handled puppet at times… seeing him sway sideways as he passes someone in a tight space is very realistic… what isn’t realistic is when he continues to do this in the same area when there is nobody within 10 feet of him.

While this same section did offer up a touch of the openworld vibe (in that the game wasn’t funnelling you towards the next set piece as Uncharted has a hateful habit of doing)as I progressed through the scene I found an NPC blocking the path I wanted to take as the game clearly didn’t want me going that way… open world vibe destroyed.

What the game does do, or at least has done so far, is make you care a little… as I was playing a later scene with Kara, now on the run after a violent episode with her owner, she finds herself caring for a small child… having been given a tip off about where we might stay safely I was still faced with finding somewhere the two of them could spend that night… having found somewhere I was genuinely worried briefly when I went back to fetch the child to find another Android was threatening her with a knife.

Even the Terminator style scene as a character is forced to rebuild themselves with parts from other, even more broken down, variants of themselves offered a moral choice or two along the way, did the way I barely hesitated to kill another android so that I might survive could for anything about the way the game moves forward or am I reading way too much into it?

Still… I know for sure I’ll be back for more.

May 27th

Been a few days since I updated this, a half day at work depriving me of my usual, lunch time, writing time and… well… I’ve now finished my first run through of the game.

We’ll get to that in a minute.

Spoiler time… if you still haven’t played the game, and intend to, then maybe give the next section a pass.

As Kara you’re bought to run the house of Todd, an unemployed, drug using, middle aged man who has a serious attitude problem and a daughter named Alice.

His wife left him for an Accountant, and the big issue here is why, having clearly gone up in the world, she left her child behind with a clearly unsuitable parent.

As much of Kara’s sections are spent making sure Alice is safe, looking after Alice and pretty much doing everything with Alice in mind… her very essence of existence at these points is looking after the child.

As is the case with this game, all three playable characters end up together, briefly, in Jericho… an abandoned ship which acts as sanctuary for deviant androids… having put Alice to sleep you leave to find Markus to ask for help, upon returning you discover the obvious (when you think about it) twist here.

Alice is not a human… when Todd’s wife left him she did indeed take their daughter with her, and so Todd bought a replacement… Alice is an android.

Back to the game.

I bloody loved it, and for the first time in ages I’m looking at a second play more or less straight away… I’ll go back and replay a couple of sections to mop up a couple of easier Trophies, then I’ll print the guide off and start from scratch going for all the collectables (missed a dozen or so Magazines) and the more complicated Trophies with a specific run through.

David Cage seems to have finally managed to put together a game where his obsession with having the player carry out even the most mundane tasks has been held back, and moving a thumb stick to interact with an object is considerably better than just pressing A or X when nearby.

The investigations done as Connor are a joy to play, deciding the method of protest my Markus and the androids is one that you find yourself giving considerable thought to as you go… looking after Alice becomes your priority as well because for much of the game you don’t realise she’s an android.

You also start to care for the other NPC’s and even went out of my way to save on very near the end of the game as they’d saved me earlier in the piece… I hate to say that Quantic Dream have finally managed to produce a game worthy a being labelled an Interactive movie.

And they’ve done it by cutting back on the padding, adding the genius flowchart system to show your decisions which is made EVEN BETTER by the fact that with the press of a button you can see how other players did… having completed the assault on the camp at the end I was informed only 27% of people had taken this route and succeeded… add one smug point to me.

They’ve even made the main menu fun.

I’ll explain.

On first loading the game a face appears talking you through the settings and options, this is clearly to try and immerse you in the whole android system (enforced later on when you meet Chloe at the home of the head of Cyberlife who make all the androids… Chloe is the same model as the main menu android) and at a later point you’ll be asked to take a survey.

Depending on your answers here, and the decisions you make in the game, her expression will change when you go back to the main menu, at one point she asked me if we were friends… having completed the game I returned to the menu and she asked “Did you free us?”

Upon answering yes… she smiled, thanked me, and left the main menu screen… she hasn’t been seen since.

The main menu offers the chance to replay chapters once the game has been completed, and I’ll use this to harvest a few missed Trophies, but I’m not sure this will allow me do so if I choose not to over-ride my save game file… if I do then I lose all my progress to that point… so if I choose to replay the opening scene with Kara first I lose all the checkpoints after that… so I need to be careful to replay the later stages first and work backwards.

You see the Trophies unlock as the flowchart updates, if I choose not to update my save my progress will these still pop at the end of each section?

Guess I’m going to have to play one without updating to find out… but I will find out.