Young Star

Dreaming of electric sheep

Franz Pantaleon - The Philippine Star
Dreaming of electric sheep
Paired with cinematic camera movement, a talented cast of actors-turned-assets through motion capture technology, and sound design that elicits a wide berth of emotions, each scene in this videogame plays out like a movie.

Videogame ‘Detroit: Become Human’ teaches us what it’s like to be an  AI android.

MANILA, Philippines — It’s the storytelling that’ll pull you in.

The year is 2038 in Detroit, Michigan. Cars have yet to fly, shoelaces still don’t tie themselves, and you’re probably waiting for your crush’s reply to a message you sent back in 2018. Oh, and there are androids… lots of them. They work menial jobs, run errands, and even help in police investigations — you know, all that fun stuff we humans want to avoid.

All is well and good, until some of them gain a sense of consciousness and take matters into their own hands. These malfunctioning units, known as deviants, have been deemed a problem to society. And now, they’re your problem.

With the upcoming Playstation 4 game “Detroit: Become Human,” developer Quantic Dream takes the question “What does it mean to be human?” and flips it on its head. You’re given control of three androids, each with its own purpose and place in society, whose lives you follow through the course of the game — Connor, a seemingly perfect prototype who aids the police in deviant-related cases; Kara, a standard housekeeping unit tasked with, well, keeping house; and Markus, a diligent PA to a wealthy, elderly painter who treats him as if he were his own son. Being an android in Detroit isn’t all it’s made out to be, as our protagonists soon discover and attempt to come to terms with.

Human history is riddled with cause and effect — choices offered, decisions being made, and outcomes we learn to live with. At the end of the day, we make the choices that matter to us at the moment, and “Detroit: Become Human” explores just that existential reality.

Boasting several “endings,” the game finds its roots in Chaos Theory which states, roughly, that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world. This is illustrated in a flowchart that maps the actions and interactions a player makes in each scene. It’s a fun little detail for the casual everyman as well as a nifty guide for Platinum Trophy-chasers out there.

To say that “Detroit: Become Human” is a decision-based game may be a bit too simplistic. The game pushes the envelope by immersing players in the lives of its characters. Walking around the linear levels to complete tasks such as picking up paint at the store, taking out the trash, and negotiating a hostage situation may seem like mundane tasks at first, but none without purpose. It’s a slow burn that builds in intensity — leading to nail-biting moments, exciting climaxes, and oh-so-satisfying, or shocking, conclusions — and, ultimately, it develops our empathy. Even for androids.

It’s videogame storytelling like no other. Paired with cinematic camera movement, a talented cast of actors-turned-assets through motion capture technology, and sound design that elicits a wide berth of emotions, each scene plays out like a movie. But that’s where the similarities between the two mediums end. While cinema allows viewers a distanced, sort of voyeuristic approach to experiencing stories, videogames demand active participation in order to progress.

All that being said, it’s a game for everyone, gamers and non-gamers alike.

At this point, you may have categorized these as the ramblings of an overexcited fan who wants everyone to partake in this marvel of a game… and you wouldn’t be mistaken. But besides being a gamer, I’m also a storyteller, and above everything else, I’m a human being just looking for people to connect with.

Sometimes I find myself wondering what other people’s lives are like, and how I’d act if I were in their shoes. “Detroit: Become Human” doesn’t grant that wish, but it comes close.

I’d like to believe in a softer world.

* * *

“Detroit: Become Human” will be available in stores on May 25.


  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with