E3 2016: Detroit: Become Human Will Haunt My Human Dreams

As a kid, I was always a fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books. Usually, they involved monsters or an adventure that required tough decisions to follow through with, and the endings were always satisfying, since I knew they were because of my choices along the way. But more realistic and volatile the situation is, the more questions a person can have about the decisions they did make.

This is the concept behind Detroit: Become Human. In the trailer, an android, named Connor, is sent to the roof of an apartment building as a negotiator determined to try to save a little girl being held hostage. The hostage taker? Another android, this one bent on making their own decisions and seemingly contradicting their main programming. As a hostage negotiator, the goal is, of course, to save the little girl, but how can that be done? Lie to calm the hostage taker down? Tell them the truth about their scenario and hope for a non-impulsive reaction? Is there a combination of both like a poker game?

Like any negotiation, there's a lot to take into account: any other possible interference, the environment, what may have set them off in the first place, even the politics that could come with sentient AI. It's such a heated situation that it's not clear if there's another scenario to play, but there is a significant amount that can happen in only the one possible situation. Hell, this could be just the opening scene of the game even, and it only goes crazy from here no matter the outcome. There's so little information, and all that is shown is occurring in real-time plays through, so it's difficult to gauge what's next.

It's extremely interesting, however, taking on so directly a sequence of moral dilemmas head-on. For so long and so often, there's only a "right" and a "wrong" answer to scenarios in a video game, rarely a haunting balance. If pulled off correctly, this can lead to some deep philosophical conversations between people who play it, even more so if there are random elements thrown in each time, such as the number of officers the enemy AI killed or if the little girl somehow provoked the response, how she did it. It's frustrating to have so little information and yet be so incredibly broad in its possibilities while still being apparently so focused in its scope.

Is this a detective story at heart, or a Socratic look into what makes someone or something "alive"? Should we expect multiple scenarios to baffle our moral compasses? And just how damn gorgeous does this game look? I'm not great at reading lips, but this does look like I'd be able to read them, and that's one of the harder things to properly accomplish in this medium. This could be a truly engaging title to keep me awake wondering about my own existence for some time.

There's not a release date in sight for Detroit: Become Human, it's only listed as in development for PS4, so it's likely to be a console exclusive (this was the only time I saw it). But this is chock-full of possibilities, so I'm looking forward to whatever may be shown next. This is gonna be something unique, if nothing else.