Detroit: Become Human Follows Conflict Between Humans and Androids
What Does It Mean to Be Human
Related to Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human takes a serious look at what it means to be human following the the stories of three Androids and their society in 2038 where they are seen as second class citizens and treated as slaves.
As jobs moved into automation in a crumbling city, the Detriot of the future shows less change that the decade where all the automakers had suddenly fled the town. Where some areas of the city are crime ridden and crumbling homes as still occupied by the poorest of families, other parts of society flourished and moved into heavy use of Androids from everything from store clerks, general workers, to caregivers for the elderly and children.
The three Androids of the game are given very different assignments, all seeing how the second class treatment of their kind has impacted their own experience and that of Android kind.
Where some are referred to as a luxury toy to be mistreated, Androids only want to be seen as people and find actual identity in a world that wants to hold them back.
What does it mean to be human? To each of the Androids it means something different. While Markus has a kind owner that wants him to flourish and find his place in the world after the old man passes, Markus is educated about the world around him and encouraged to dream. Kara is an abused Android in a nanny role, and clued in that she was once broken by her owner for protecting the abused daughter of a drug addict. Connor is a member of the police force only in name, a toy used for negotiation.
Second Class In A New Society
We first see the experience of Connor, a police negotiator Android that is used for the sole purpose of tracking Deviant Androids that were said to have turned on the population and abused humans in some way. While Connor realizes that in most cases the Androids were not at fault, being pushed into a situation of defending themselves against abusive humans that see them as second class, later scenes with Markus being attacked on the street just for running at simple errand for his kind master that has sent him to a paint store to fetch and order that had been placed.
Markus is ambushed and beaten by protesters that swear that Androids and the more automation in society has taken all jobs and they violently beat Markus until it is broken up by a cop- not because the Androids have rights, but just to keep a riot off the streets. When Markus boards a bus to go home he is not allowed into the regular compartment with the humans and stashed in the back like luggage where all the Androids peer out from a singular window, a call back to the days of segregation in the society.
Kara was an abused Android, given back to the drug addict that once destroyed her and had her repaired and reprogrammed, claiming to the repair shop she was stupid and had been hit by a car- though evidence from the daughter's drawings show a more sinister story where a child was being abused and Kara stepped in the middle to protect the child she was programmed to nanny and was torn apart by her drug addict owner in retaliation.
Markus has it the easiest of the Androids in the story, as they eventually come together in their story lines. His kind elderly owner tries to install Markus with a sense of identity and wants him to find out who he is, though the mans son has an issue with his father replacing him with an expensive toy and claims that he will never allow an Android to keep him from inheriting his father's estate.
A negotiator for the police, Connor is treated badly by the police that see him only as technology that can be used in their investigation. In his first two cases, Connor is sent to understand Deviant Androids, those that have acted against humans in some way.
While in the first case, the Android in question was keeping a child hostage after learning her parents were looking to upgrade to a new model. The nanny Android didn't understand, killing the husband and dragging the child to the roof. Depending on how Connor investigates and plays out the scene, choosing to be cautious rather than rash, understanding and telling the police to back off so he can get the child to safety, he promises the Android that he will not be destroyed and they will just take him into custody but it is not a promise that Connor can keep easily. Like other games from the developers, what choices that Connor makes in the moment will stem a map of possible outcomes.
In another crime, Connor realizes that an abused Android was being attacked by his drug addled owner and in self defense the Deviant has hidden out for eight weeks in the homes attic after the killing.
When confronted, Connor has the choice to let the Android go, but because of his programming and maybe his duty to the law enforcement he serves, Connor again turns in the fugitive knowing that he will be destroyed for the murder of the his owner.
Connor is seen as a traitor for not siding with his own kind, although he is conflicted between doing what he believes is right on the side of the law and making the the right choices for his own kind.
Connor is conflicted in his duties as law enforcement as he has twice turned in the Deviant Androids, believing that breaking the law, he is made to defend is worse than defending the rights of his own kind. Can Connor eventually realize that his own kind needs his help more than the humans he is forced to serve?
Markus is in a unique situation with a kind owner, and elderly man that is an artist. Inspiring Markus to learn and find his own identity, he is trying to teach him to paint and play chess. Gently scolding Markus when he lets the old man win, or copies the images of what he has already seen his master paint when given the choice, Markus is challenged to explore his own dreams and find his own identity.
Knowing that Markus has been bullied by protesters, the old man seeks to make him stronger, letting Markus gently know that he is no less than that of humans and that he needs to stand his ground and not let himself be bullied.
The old man knows that he is dying and that one day Markus will be on his own, he worries about the future of Markus, especially as that his son with a history of drug issues and trying to get money off the old man, keeps showing up threatening his father and claiming that he loves his "toy" and that he sees Markus as more of a son than his own blood, proving that Markus will be in danger if the old man passes and leaves any of the estate to his Android friend, as property can not be passed along to subhumans.
Starting to believe in himself, Markus is learning to be more than what he was programmed to be. He wants to be human.
When early trailers of Detroit: Become Human featured a scene where Kara had the choice of protecting the child she was in charge of as a nanny or protecting herself which could result in the death of the little girl, backlash against the game saying that it "glorified playable child abuse."
What naysayers didn't get though, was it was the Android that was trying to protect the child from her abusive father, and that given the right choices, Kara could be successful in her mission.
Abused herself by her owner from the drawing in the child's room of a broken Kara and the owners story at the beginning that he had gotten her repaired after walking in front of a car, Kara is in the worst situation of any of the Androids in the game and being human to her means having empathy for others in her charge.
While Kara doesn't want to be a Deviant and fight back she understands that the life of the innocent is more important.
The stories merge together, while beautifully animated, the darkness that hangs over this game is as prominent as the other games of this studio.
Detroit: Become Human is beautiful in its own manner showcasing a bleak future only twenty years away and the possible temptation of what more automation can do to the human population and the price we may eventually pay for it on both sides.
The game is available on PlayStation 4.