Detroit: Become Human fails to subvert doubts


That’s David Cage as fuck.


As I watch more of the game I’m actually kind of surprised at how much mundane shit it makes the player do. Like, horrible writing aside, why is anybody having fun hitting button prompts during an extended Do The Dishes scene?


I suppose you haven’t seen Heavy Rain’s family bonding scenes. They’re exactly the same, though with more choice. DO YOU MAKE YOUR SON MICROWAVE CHICKEN OR PIZZA!? Your son will remember this. It’s arguably called for in this game because it helps establish the initial status of the androids, helping the player get into a certain headspace with said character, and being perfectly honest, this light doing chores stuff is the only parts of David Cage games I don’t think aren’t mostly crap. It just doesn’t fit with his stories.

I kind of find interest in it the same way I’m interested in a lot of walkabout stuff. Sometimes it’s just nice to take in the world, and you can kind of enjoy a simple moment in time. Games are bad at presenting the mundane in an interesting way, and David Cage is the closest to making it work that I’ve seen. The problem is that the stories he writes are big sci-fi epics or thrillers. The mundane doesn’t really fit as an interesting element of the wider story, or he just fumbles at using these mechanics to create any sort of thematic current that adds to the experience. Heavy Rain was the closest these elements fit with the material, contrasting with normal life comfort with the coming horror causes by the Origami killer, and they don’t really do that too well.


Yeah, I almost bought a PS3 because of Heavy Rain’s promise of QTE mundanity, it seemed like the most exciting thing in the world in 2009, especially at that budget. Now that there are so many indie games that thoroughly explore ordinary lives in all kinds of ways, there’s much less appeal to that, especially in the context of a game that appears to insult the player’s intelligence in so many other ways.


Finished the game today.

I’m unsure really what to say. As usual, as there tends to be with Cage’s games and me, there were some moments I really did enjoy-- almost entirely centered on the investigation and crime aspect of it. The problem solving, the trying to get the story of each scene to end the way I wanted it to. I’d be a filthy, terrible liar if I told you I didn’t get genuine pleasure from some of that stuff.

As for the larger problems… ugh. Not that this can’t be just as damaging, but it came across less as blatantly racist and more just a story told by a man with his head so far up his ass that he actually, probably, for real thinks he’s not only saying something profound but doing good for the world. But, as they say, good intentions, hell, etc.

The co-opting of some of the imagery and messages really, really was a problem. I think most people have seen the MLK reference that others have posted, but that’s just kind of the tip of the iceberg. There is a moment where a bunch of marching androids symbolically put their hands in the air as was done in the last year or so with people of color protesting police violence and it just felt SO fucking inappropriate in terms of being used to tell his stupid little robot story. The original version of the film The Black Klansman (not the version Spike Lee showed at Caanes this year) is what this game reminds me of. Hack director Ted V Mikels made an exploitation film that tried desperately to tackle “real issues” but was just totally laughable even though you could tell that dude was trying to be sincere. I think Cage probably thinks he’s telling a nobel story here while totally missing the point that co–opting this powerful imagery from contemporary protests of extremely important issues is simply in poor taste.

All that said, it gets even worse with some truly terrible dialogue in which a little girl cries, “Why do they hate us?” and that sort of totally on-the-nose sort of thing where the characters say the most hackneyed cliche bullshit and you can just FEEL cage leaning back from his keyboard, nodding his head thinking, “Man, that’s deep.”

I don’t really know what to say. I enjoy parts of the game, I have to admit. But there is a ton of totally stupid and awful bullshit in here. I didn’t walk away angry but just feeling like my eyes were about to pop out after spending 85% of my time with the game rolling them.

I guess I’d also be remiss if I didn’t add that this game piles onto the myth of race relations having to be about the nobility of non-violence. I’m not saying violence is good, but in this day and age so many white people use the legacy of MLK, for instance, as code for, “You should be as innocuous as possible when asking for your rights in our society”, Cage is playing right into that kind of utter bullshit. Clearly, that was not what King was about, but in the decades since his death, his image has been co-opted and white-washed to the point of white people viewing him almost like a Santa Claus or something, that the legacy of King is that you shut your mouth and MAYBE march a bit, but you be a good boy and don’t cause trouble (Again, equal parts maddening and hilarious considering how much of a thorn in the side of white society King was in his day). This is the message Detroit gives you in the way they determine the “good” and “bad” ending as far as I’m concerned.


Alex Navarro posted some ROT13 spoilers for anyone interested about the ending. It sure sounds like some purestrain David Cage.


My eye’s rolled so hard when they revealed that there’s an android Underground Railroad I backflipped into space.


OG David Cage is a heady sativa, crossbred from the phenotypes “OG Auteur” and “Keyboard Kush” in the dry heat of the Champagne region. Smelling of very pungent hard cheeses, with a tasteless smoke that leaves a lingering bitterness, it’s a rich hit you know when you take it, but leaves no real lasting impression. The high comes on smoothly, with some buzzing in the head, and you’ll wonder if you should take another when BAM! A strong, euphoric, righteous energy strikes you. Great for doing chores and filling your journal, but try to stay away from social media: it’s a very chatty, confused high that could get you into trouble!


In case there was any doubt that they [Quantic Dreams] really don’t get it, and also Gamers are bad.

Once you’ve finished Detroit and gone back to the main menu, you’ll get to make one last choice: Chloe gives you the option to set her free. You can let her go join the android revolution, or decline to release her from her imprisonment as the game’s hostess.

In a tweet from Detroit’s official account Sunday night, developer Quantic Dream said that “a lot of players” who let Chloe go had been asking for a way to bring her back. So the studio “decided to follow the popular vote”: The game’s next patch will add the ability for players who have released Chloe to “acquire a brand new model” of her. The studio noted that the original Chloe model “will still be free.”

So you are a good person for freeing your slave, but also here have another slave as you were missing your old one


I feel like a laughing gif is the most appropriate response here, I just can’t choose which one :slight_smile:


I just came across Evan Narcisse’s piece on Detroit: Become Human’s use of black culture, it’s well worth a read:


Sorry, I’m a bit late to this discussion. All I’ll add is that I wish someone would take the game’s characters away from ol’ ham-fisted David Cage and make a game that just features Connor and Hank solving crimes together. There’s a shred of potential there. Connor is Best Boy and they both deserve better writing and a better game.

(It’s probably very telling that the white male character is the most interesting and well-written – relatively speaking – in the game. It either says a lot about David Cage or it says a lot about me and my own biases. Probably a bit of both.)


There have been some wonderful pieces on how this game fails at its mission of speaking about oppression and on its hamfisted simulation of human interaction, but there are still a ton of mainstream outlets that seem to be confused as to how to tackle this one, and that’s frustrating. There are a lot of articles on this game which praise the storytelling framework that Detroit provides without having as much interest in what’s put into that framework. It feels very much like the logical endgame of a critical community that learned how to talk about games as software which provides menus full of options but who aren’t used to talking about character motivations, plot arcs, or handling of real-world issues as part of their criticism.