What Personality Alignment Is Hank Detroit Become Human
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Its larger themes are handled brilliantly, but this is Quantic Dream’s most believable and satisfying interactive yarn.
What Personality Alignment Is Hank Detroit Become Human
The main menu screen for Detroit: Become Human – Quantic Dream’s new game about Androids discovering free will and rising up against their human masters – an Android face that speaks directly to the player, beautifully realized. The android looks like a young, beautiful, blonde woman. He asks if we’re having a good time, suggests we take a poll, joking to save the game from damage. If you leave the menu for a long time, the topic will change. Do we know about the Underground Railroad, the secret network that helped black slaves escape across the front lines in the southern United States? Then he begins to sing softly, pleadingly, “Wait a minute, everything’s going to be alright.” It turned out to be a traditional gospel song. It is also possible that he fell into “We will win”.
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Intentionally or not, it’s a poignant moment. It also refutes writer-director David Cage’s comments that sentient robots are just science fiction and that any political or socio-historical parallels to the real world are in the eye of the beholder. . In fact, it’s clear that they intend to. Cage deliberately evokes slavery and the civil rights movement in the android situation.
Before we get caught up in our delusions of grandeur, it’s worth remembering that Detroit is Quantico’s latest slick, goofy, ambitious attempt at interactive cinematic storytelling, like Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls – and arguably the most successful of them all. until now. The story is coherent and compelling, avoiding Cage’s trademark last-act silliness. It’s consistently loud enough to enjoy a video game.
Detroit has three stories focused on three main characters, all Androids. Kara (Valorie Curry) is Todd’s housekeeper, abusive father and drug addict. After ending the relationship, Todd flees with his daughter Alice north of the Canadian border, where there are no android laws. Marcus (Jesse Williams) is the guardian of a controversial but kind artist played by Lance Henriksen. Inactive and discarded for his crime, Marcus discovers, joins, and eventually leads an android resistance movement called Jericho. Connor (Bryan Dechart) is an advanced model hired by Android manufacturer CyberLife to help the police investigate “deviants” – the term for androids like Kara and Marcus who have learned to hack their programming and seek freedom from human education. He’s the most ambiguous and interesting character of the three, and in classic chalk-cheese-buddy-cop style he’s paired with Hank (Clancy Brown), a sleazy alcoholic who hates androids. (Cage likes to go all-in on his features—three more, so it doesn’t remain a cliché.)
Like previous Quantic Dream games, Detroit is a technical tour de force, with fantastically realistic rendering and fine performance capture; Digital Foundry’s John Linman is right, this is a rare and exciting example of taking cutting-edge technology and creating something more intimate than the usual sprawling playgrounds. Detroit 2038 is convincingly realized with richly textured locations and convincing technology. It is neither a utopia nor a dystopia, and it is recognizable as our world.
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Like previous Quantic Dream games, Detroit takes place in tightly controlled cutscenes that combine dialogue – full of possibilities, smooth and leaden – with a modest amount of exploration and the most mundane of dialogues to create a compelling charm. It’s always asking you to twist a stick to open a door, tilt a controller to fill a drink, or swipe a touchpad to read a magazine. At first, Gauche uses this control language so persistently that it draws you deep into the game – and turning “quick events” into action scenes feels more natural than in other games. Android’s computing layers allow for some fun embellishments: Connor, investigating a crime scene, can analyze evidence to create a wireframe reconstruction of the event that can be turned into 3D video, and Marcus can pre-visualize Parker’s routes to gauge his chances of success. .
Of course, Detroit also constantly gives you choices – hit or fold, be aggressive or fair, take the low road or the high road. With dozens of possible paths and outcomes, this leads to possibly the studio’s most sophisticated branching narrative to date. We’ve heard this before, and even those who love this form of interactive storytelling may be skeptical about how much impact their decisions have. But this time Quantic made the bold – and I mean smart – decision to show its work, clear the smoke and show the mirror.
Detroit allows you to study the flow chart of each scene, even as you play, so you can see the full range of choices available to you and which choices make sense and which don’t. Choices that have an impact beyond the current chapter are clearly marked. Towards the end of the game, the flowcharts begin to expand with multiple entry points, multiple routes, and eventually completely separate diagrams to divert the main stories. During gameplay, you get clear on-screen feedback when you unlock new options or routes. You can choose to go back and replay scenes at any time, although the game recommends that you stick with your choices and play through them once before starting the story matrix.
The flow chart dispels the illusion of a living, breathing story – now quite tenuous – and breaks the immersion. But this clear visibility of the game’s boldness gives us a level of confidence in our interactions with the game that is unprecedented in the genre. Video games are generally easier to enjoy when you fully understand their system, and this seems to be true of interactive narrative as well. Flowcharts are also a powerful motivator for replaying scenes or entire games later: you can learn what’s behind locked options and paths, improve your completion rate, collect secrets and story diversions like loot. (It’s a shame that if you replay a scene and unlock a new story path in later chapters, you’ll have to play through the middle chapters to see the results.) Detroit is much more comfortable as a video game and less of a cinematic status. Envy is like Quantic Dream’s previous work and all the better for it.
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Perhaps because that’s how it unfolds—or perhaps because it’s the first time that Cage, still credited as the sole writer, has worked with a writing team—Detroit is a more disciplined piece of storytelling. There are no strange excursions or flashbacks; All three stories have strong momentum, coherent timelines, intersect and eventually intertwine. Most impressively, from what I’ve seen – and from talking to other players – most of the last few permutations work on their own. On my first playthrough, my story turned out to be darker and darker than I expected. But it was still a dramatically satisfying conclusion, with significant resonance in the fates of the three characters, and it didn’t suffer from the unsatisfying abruptness and sense of incompleteness that many “bad” endings do. He felt that this was the end, not a state of failure.
A cage is a cage. Rarely for subtlety or understatement, his dialogue is complex and often painfully on-the-nose, his female characters are either sexy or in danger (or both), and he tends to strike the right emotional chord. The scene in which Kara reveals that Todd physically abused Alice was the subject of heated debate after it aired late last year; It’s not that critical in context (why you chose this as marketing, I don’t know), but it’s a sensitive issue in the gallery in terms of volume and management. Curry is likable and likable, but Alice is a huge motivator for Kara’s emotional journey of self-discovery. Marcus, despite Williams’ good looks, never settles in as a charismatic revolutionary – he’s a bit boring. But Connor is something else. Dechart, matching her coolly drawn face and the insistent quality of her voice, plays her with menacing, controlled energy. Hank is fun to tease, the police procedural gameplay of his segments is the most interesting, and like the others, he operates in a gray area where he can have distractions that limit his choices. But it’s more interesting.
But what they are not – which none of them are – is convincing machine intelligence. Androids operate in Detroit,