There’s always something special about a Quantic Dream game. Each one has its fair share of problems, but there’s something about the way that David Cage and his development team constantly embrace storytelling that makes each of his video games a genuinely exciting affair. Even the ones I didn’t like have been noteworthy in positive and truly unique ways.
Detroit: Become Human looks set to continue the philosophy that has embodied this development studio since the release of Fahrenheit (or Indigo Prophecy depending on where you lived). It’s always worth remembering that Cage was trying to bring a storytelling focus to video games in the days when it wasn’t popular to release something where you didn’t shoot everything in sight.
But this is about Detroit. The game ticks all of the boxes you’d find stapled to the back of a David Cage game – primary among them being choice and consequence. As presented so well in the demo at Sony’s E3 press conference on Tuesday morning, even a single scene can be filled with choices that can vastly affect the outcome of any given scenario.
“Scene after scene you tell the story. What was very important to us was not to tell the story through cutscenes, but to let the player build his own story through his actions, through his choices. So each player will have different versions of his story and this is really what we found exciting about this project. And of course, all characters can die. There is no game over in this game. If you don’t pay enough attention to your characters [or] make too many bad choices you may lose one of your characters.”
That’s a big check.
There’s a lot to love about the demo we were shown for Detroit: Become Human, but one of the most noticeable things, or not as the case may be, about it was its user interface. There was nothing on the screen as the demo went on. When a choice needed to be made the button prompts were displayed next to protagonist Connor. Push the corresponding button to enact whatever action is listed. It’s a very clean way to design a game, leaving the screen uncluttered and allowing players to fully immerse themselves in the unfolding action.
Attention to detail is also a huge part of Detroit. Once again, Quantic Dream have developed a brand new engine specifically for this game, as they do with all their games (as Cage correctly notes in the above interview this is “probably insane”). It’s a real testament to how much care is put into every detail of their games that they go through this process. Rather than fitting a game around an existing engine, Quantic build every game from scratch so it looks and feels exactly how they want it to.
“With Detroit we wanted a very specific look and we wanted to develop the sense of cinematography in the engine. So we needed to develop some specific features about the lighting, what we call physically based shaders is the fact that all the materials react correctly to the light. We have developed what we call close-up lighting – it’s like in a film. When we have close-up shots of the characters they always have a specific lighting set, so they always look great. Lighting, shadows [and] what we call physical cameras, which is the fact that our lenses are really based on real physics of real optics.”
Incredible attention to detail. Check.
As for the story, it’s clearly a narrative-driven game, though Cage wouldn’t be drawn out too much on specific story details. Detroit will have multiple protagonists (check) and all of these characters will be androids. Quantic are setting up the game so that the androids are very much the “good guys” with us Humans being set up to be this games “bad guys”. Whatever my personal feelings on Quantic Dream and their previous games, Detroit definitely has my attention, and I can’t wait to see more.
Detroit: Become Human launches exclusively on Playstation 4. It currently does not have a launch window.