Are robots able to feel? Empathize? To create? Despite the years of research, scientists do not give clear answers. And where science is powerless, art fiction comes to the forefront. Last year, with the help of NieR: Automata, Truth tried to get to the bottom of Taro Yoko. Now his view on the problems of artificial intelligence decided to introduce David Cage – the author of interactive thrillers Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. Well, guys, soap?
By the blade
The near future. The technologies have made another leap, and the developments of Boston Dynamics are in the past: androids are already among us, their kind and behavior hardly distinguishable from ordinary people. Irreplaceable helpers and cheap slaves in one person, the “children” of CyberLife for years perform the most ungrateful work, carrying the humiliation of the all-powerful hosts. But nothing lasts forever: suddenly in Detroit, deviants begin to appear one by one – cars that have acquired self-consciousness.
In just a few months, humanity is on the verge of war with its greatest creation. Now, in the darkest hour, the fate of the world depends on the actions of not people, but ordinary robots. Marcus, the butler of the old artist, is on the street as a result of an accident. Connor, a policeman, hunts “broken” brethren and tries to find out the cause of their madness. Kara, a housekeeper, escapes with her master’s daughter when he raises his hand to his own child. Heroes are waiting for incredible adventures, and their ways will intersect more than once. And who knows what will end their amazing story?
Light, camera, shame
Video games have long been done with an eye on Hollywood. Game designers are watching the directors at receptions, screen savers from year to year more and traditional gameplay is regularly substituted by spectacular QTE. It seems that the developers want to “shoot” films, and not to mold conveyor blockbusters. Only few people have the courage to say this openly. Very few people, except for David Cage and his studio Quantic Dream.
Unlike other eminent teams, the French company has long ceased to disguise itself: since 2005, it has been engaged exclusively in interactive cinema, where there is no place for either shootings with terrorists, neither bosses, nor other distracting narrative nonsense. Cage’s logic is impeccable: the industry is already full of shooters like Call of Duty, why not do something original? But to create such masterpieces you need skill. Talent. And here after all an ill luck: anything another, except naked enthusiasm, at the Frenchman also is not present.
Omikron: The Nomad Soul, Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls … Each of his opuses is a story about how a bad idea was ruined by bad performance. No matter what the game, a beautiful pacifier – captivating at first, and then, closer to the finale, falling to pieces. So from Detroit: Become Human (with its banal origin) it was difficult to wait for something good. And yet old Cage found something to surprise.
Detroit – an accentuated cinematic adventure, narrating about the fate of several characters at once. As before, the player needs relatively little: walk around in locations, collect or view garbage, talk a lot, go through sophisticated QTE and survive. Yes, unlike many of your fellow genres, in Become Human (as well as in the ever-memorable Heavy Rain), heroes can die, and the plot will quietly move on – albeit in the direction of a bad ending. Here you are not peaceful quests LucasArts.
Already with the introductory chapters, the novelty is perceived as one big work on mistakes – as if all these years the authors were studying reviews of their creations, throwing out unsuccessful elements and keeping working. At the output turned out such a collection of “the best of”. Put a tick: the futuristic world of a la Omikron (alas, without David Bowie), the intriguing entry of Fahrenheit with dozens of scenarios, investigation episodes, the death of protagonists and elements of the Heavy Rain interface, Hollywood actors just like in Beyond. Even the main menu reminds the beginning of The Nomad Soul – only instead of a low-poly model, the fourth wall is broken by a beautiful girl. Try not to blush.
And like everything is familiar, familiar, but there’s nothing to swear: from the point of view of game design the game is made wisely. Even the usual genre flaws here, in a new context, look not so scary and critical. Are the robots expressing themselves unnaturally, not humanly? Invisible walls interfere with the study of locations? Of course, the program does not allow you to deviate from a given course! Bullets do not kill or even slow down characters during action scenes, and wounds heal too fast? Machines, what to take from them.
However, these are rather pleasant little things – really impressive in Detroit: Become Human is different. Here (in contrast to the series of some Telltale), the decisions made by the gamer in the course of the “film” really affect the situation – they change the history very noticeably. Linear at first the narrative ramifies with time: unique mini-episodes are opened, even the fleeting dialogues and individual chapters vary. And the endings are determined not by the choice of a particular scene in the finale, but by a number of not always obvious moments. How carefully did Connor study the crime scenes? Did Kara manage to escape from her master? And How?
Conceptually, the mechanics resemble the “butterfly effect” of Until Dawn (or the earlier Blade Runner from Westwood): did something or said – prepare for the consequences, the authors will not let down. Unless in the horror of Supermassive Games there were far fewer variations in the development of events: in this sense, the chamber horror is difficult to compete with the cyberpunk epic. Quantic Dream employees did a lot of work, and they do not hesitate to demonstrate this, drawing in the final of each chapter gigantic schemes, similar to the intricate chronology of some Metal Gear Solid. A good way to disguise boot screens!
In other words, from the point of view of the gameplay the novelty indeed worked out. Taking the best of their previous creations and borrowing a couple of other inventions, the authors finally fulfilled the promise: they released a real interactive movie. Hooray? Hooray. But, unfortunately, Detroit is still a game of David “Need more emotions” Cage. With all the ensuing.
Alas, in the five years that have passed since the premiere of Beyond, the head of Quantic Dream has never learned to write good scripts. Even with the help of new assistants and editors, all that he managed to compose is at best a mediocre melodrama about racism, where the roles of the oppressed blacks were taken away from the soulless androids. Quite metaphors and clumsy references to real historical events (right up to the Nazi concentration camps!) Are attached.
To admit, it’s very amusing to observe so obvious and unsophisticated nonsense in 2018. There are no bright new ideas, unseen science fiction concepts, or a unique view of AI problems. Instead, it is a continuous repetition of the high-sounding words studied with a bunch of high-pitched vulgarity and the obligatory tears on the artificial eyes. Heroes are all compiled according to the textbook of archetypes and communicate with such double banalities that at times the game borders on a self-parody. Sometimes it even seems, just around the corner will be Lieutenant Frank Drebin from the “Naked Pistol” – and everything will fall into place. But that would be too subtle. Well at least there was no delirium in the spirit of Heavy Rain, that is, attempts to hit and turn things upside down, somehow. Here everything fits into the fragile logic of the fabulous cyberpunk universe where robotry can be bought for a miserable 899 bucks, and Canada is a futuristic Wonderland.
However, not everything is so sad. There are also good scenes in Detroit – yes such that it’s not even a shame to watch! They are concentrated mainly in the story line of Connor (who has to play out baddy-moovi in the spirit of the series “Almost a Man”). There is humor, and “chemistry” between two unlike companions, and quite a sensible dialogue with almost no stupid “snot”, from which it’s time to roll your eyes. Looking at the amazing adventures of the android and grumpy detective Anderson, now and then you ask yourself: “Why the hell is this game two other protagonists?”
And everything is simple. Marcus – for annoying moralizing. Kara – for cheap emotions, which for many years now continues to cry from the rostrum of a sentimental creator named Kage. Well, let – unlike all the same Heavy Rain, in novelty each of the characters has a couple of really good moments. And in extreme cases, androids can be safely put into consumption. It’s okay – they are not people!