Ever since Quantic Dream’s blockbuster Heavy Rain stormed the charts back in 2010, the French studio has fallen out of the limelight somewhat. So it may be that their upcoming game Detroit: Become Human is a bit left-field for some, especially considering that their most recent title Beyond Two Souls didn’t resonate too well with audiences.

But after spending some time with a playable demo of Detroit: Become Human at EGX 2017, it seems that the development team have recaptured the spark that made Heavy Rain such a hit. Of course, it comes packaged with the classic Quantic Dream foibles – clunky and cumbersome controls, fixed ‘fly-on-the-wall’ camera, odd analogue stick commands – but the feeling of tension, and the precision of pacing, bring a real sense of the dramatic to the proceedings.

The premise is this: you control an android, Connor, a police negotiator tasked with defusing a hostile situation involving another android, Daniel, who is threatening to throw himself and a young girl from the balcony of their home. Daniel is about to be replaced, and after forming an emotional bond with the girl, suffice to say he’s a tad unhappy with the situation. When you arrive on the scene, your mission is to save the girl, and there are plenty of ways to go about (or not go about) doing this.

Upon taking control of Connor, you’re advised to investigate the scene so that you can piece together the events leading up to present. Important clues, and not-so-important red herrings lay strewn about the high-rise apartment. The reward for good detective work is a higher percentage for a successful resolution (displayed quite plainly as a percentage), while taking a long time to search the rooms thoroughly, lessens this percentage. And boy, do they like to remind you that taking your time has a cost. Daniel is forever firing pot-shots from the balcony, an angry police captain is constantly shouting at you, all while the young hostage is screaming for you to save her. Quantic Dream have done an excellent job crafting a scenario saturated by suspense.

You then chose (or are forced to) confront Daniel on the balcony. Rain hammers the rooftops around you, a helicopter spirals overhead – the composition of the scene is fantastic. There’s a real sense of mounting tension, which adds weight to the choices you make. This is further enhanced by the fact that everything is graphically gorgeous. But the real meat of this scene is how you approach the resolution of the conflict. Choosing the right dialogue options could result in the perfect ending – you save the girl and spare the hostile android. Or it could all go south, with Connor being thrown on to the scrap pile before his story’s even started. And after finishing the demo and talking with other players, it seems there are a multitude of outcomes in between those two extremes.

Hopefully the demo is typical of the rest of Detroit: Become Human, rather than a solitary highlight. A major problem with Beyond Two Souls was that the narrative was a bit all over the place, and just too slow in some segments. But from this early sneak-peek, Quantic Dream have got it right once again, and we could have another success story on our hands. There’s the promise that this futuristic world holds so many secrets for you to uncover – why is this android able to defy its human masters? What larger role to androids play in this society? But only time will show us whether this is a game worthy of the lofty heights of Heavy Rain.

Are you looking forward to playing Detroit: Become Human when it releases in 2018? Let us know in the comments section below.

  • Barry Harden

    One more huge hit that XBone won’t have!