In light of just how cinematic video games have become these days, I feel that it is time to start including them on AIN’T IT COOL. Believe it or not, video games are now getting their own IMDB pages, and they’re starting to gain some high status actors (at least in my opinion) in roles of characters in these games that are even projected looking as themselves.
DEATH STRANDING with Norman Reedus and Guillermo Del Toro has been releasing some mind blowing trailers for the past few years, I really can’t wait for it to come out so all of that bizarrity presented can finally have questions answered. (Literally every trailer raises more questions than answers, and I want more!). I’d also like to bring attention to David Cage’s BEYOND: TWO SOULS, which starred Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe in a story that moved me so much, I needed a few days to process.
Today, I will be discussing and analyzing another David Cage game, DETROIT: BECOME HUMAN.
I have been OBSESSED with this game. It came out only at the end of May this year. There are three stories that go on simultaneously in the same world and same time, and all coalesce toward the end. There are MANY endings, though. David Cage’s writing has never been too highly praised for the dialogue, though I feel it was fine this time around. But man, just the situations the characters and the moral choices that you have to make as the player can leave you shaken. Yes, if you are unfamiliar with David Cage’s work: this is one of those games that are very cinematic with intense and long lasting conversations, limited movement interaction (but still present), and it ultimately comes down to the decisions you make that affect the way the storyline goes. There are SO MANY WAYS the story can go, and what you do within each storyline before they come together later really matters. It’s a lot of pressure if you won’t want to be emotionally ravaged by the consequences of your own decisions later.
This game is BEAUTIFUL. Between the amazing graphics and the realistic movements thanks to motion capture, you can forget it’s a game. Uncanny valley is not a distraction, and keeps you seeing the characters as real people.
This game is a story that takes place in a future Detroit, during the year of 2038. Detroit is very clean in the future, apparently. Almost every home has an android in it like it would a computer. These androids so realistic, and only visually identifiable by an LED attached to their temples. But it seems that “life finds a way”, and these super intelligent androids are finding ways to (can) break their programs and gain free will by becoming “deviants”. Every character you play is an android with a very rich personality and story.
One character is Connor, played by Bryan Dechart, who is an android who works for Cyberlife (the company that creates androids), and he is also working with the Detroit Police Department to hunt down deviants with his assigned human partner Lieutenant Hank Anderson. Hank gets referred to as Mr. Anderson occasionally, and I can’t help but wonder if that is some sort of fedora tip toward THE MATRIX. Connor is very determined to complete his mission and please those who made him, but as he continues his investigations in deviants, he starts to question himself deeply (or not, up to you). His character, depending on which route you take, can have a very bromantic relationship with Hank.
The next character you meet is Markus, he too is a very interesting character. He is an android living with an old man named Carl, who was probably an amazing urban artist as a youth. His past is evident with the massive painted canvases you see laying around his mansion. Carl is like a father to Markus. Circumstances change, and Markus is separated from Carl. After finding the hidden android “haven” Jericho, Markus becomes their leader and starts a civil rights movement for all android kind. The civil rights movement parts can really make you think differently about some things you may have seen in the news recently. When you’re in a group fighting for your rights with a bunch police pointing guns at you, you can understand the different reasons why someone may want to be violent in that situation when that would only hurt their cause. Did I mention how hard some of the moral decisions can be in this game? Markus helps other androids break out of their program with just a touch, but eventually he is able to walk down the street and do it with a wave of his hand. It’s just so damn cool how you can walk down the street as him and have other androids join you for your cause and their freedom.
The third storyline is about Kara (Valorie Curry), a household android that works for a very troubled man named Todd, and helping take care of his daughter, Alice. Todd has a bit of a drug problem, and has destructive insecurities toward himself and others. One night, Todd gets a little too high on “red ice”, and tries to take his insecurities out on his Daughter. Kara breaks her program, or not, to stop Todd and save Alice from him. They run away together, eventually trying to evade Connor and any other threats that get in their way on the journey to freedom.
I can’t even spoil how all of this goes because there are so many different timelines you can create. You can get a great, emotional ending and be happy for everyone. You can get the worst ending, which is just really depressing. There are probably 5-7 bad endings you can get for the different characters. Ultimately, this game will tug hard on the heart strings that you WILL need to take breathers from occasionally to process what the fuck just happened throughout. The characters are developed so well, you will want to know what happens with them, which is probably the most addictive aspect of it. I have seen probably 97% of all of the different ways the stories can go. If you play through, you’ll understand just how time consuming that can be.
Though this game doesn’t sport any super well known actors like the others I listed earlier, I feel that there may be some getting a great start in from this game, and deservingly so. Many of the actors and actresses in DETROIT: BECOME HUMAN have been voicing cartoon characters, performing in shorts, indie films, and TV shows for years. I fucking lost it when I found out that the character Hank was voice by, Clancy Brown, who is maybe most known the voice of Mr. Krabs from SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS. Clancy deserves to be in more movies today! I’m not boring enough to watch Grey’s Anatomy (if you like that show, you do you), but I am glad they picked up Jesse Williams from it as Markus. I didn’t know of Bryan Dechart before either, he has a very thin acting history, but wow. I think he’s gonna go a lot of places. His character Connor was definitely my favorite, and it’s been a huge trip going back and watching lets plays of him on YouTube/Twitch play himself in the video game!
Will video games become a new route for small time actors to get some light within the gaze of a larger audience and possibly make it into larger acting roles? I think so!
Am I now constantly questioning the alternate timelines I could be falling into with every decision I make now? Maybe a little bit, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been in that situation since learning about theoretical physics. I can deal.
This game will seriously make you evaluate some things in your life, but at the same time leaves you thoroughly entertained and moved.
You can pick up a copy of DETROIT: BECOME HUMAN now, which is exclusively for Playstation 4.