Detroit Become Human and Other Games About Humanity

It’s been some time since Detroit Become Human hit shelves worldwide. Most of us have had the opportunity to experience the robotic civil rights movement for ourselves. While it’s clear that Quantic Dream wouldn’t know subtlety from an analogy for slavery, we thought it was pretty enjoyable. Need something else to scratch the robotic existentialism itch? We have a list of 5 games that might do the trick.

NieR: Automata

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NieR: Automata is probably the freshest in our minds as a game that deals with the source concerns in Detroit. Namely, the question of whether robots can be(come) human. A bit too on the nose? Probably, but NieR does a good job of hiding its relatively blunt approach to symbolism in philosophy. There’s tongue in cheek references peppered throughout as a pleasant contrast to the nihilism. Ever wondered what it’s like to be human? Ever wondered if robots can be human? Ever seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion? NieR gives you the answers to almost all of them, and does so beautifully.

Rumu

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PlatinumGames is a big fish in the industry pond, but the small Aussie studio behind Rumu crafted a story just as heart-wrenching as 2Bs’. While this tale had more roombas than deadly robots, it packed a real punch when it dissected the creator-creation relationship. What happens to AI when they become sentient? Do creators always know best? What happens when an AI tries to protect what’s dear to them without any frame of human reference?

Detroit Become Human tackles those topics head on, but it’s arguably more impressive when the AI doesn’t look human at all.  Rumu will leave you with so many questions, and so many concerns. You’d think that the idea of a sinister Alexa is parodied to the point of stagnation, but it still manages to be frightening.

Haydee

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Haydee has some particular marketing. Its Steam store page describes it as a game where the titular (and titillating) Haydee is a half-robot, half-human girl “in a complex full of depression.” Now, the game’s developers have copped some flak for the abysmal breast physics and impracticable clothing. There may well be a mechanically-solid product under those DDs, but if there isn’t? Those are impressive assets on their own.

Detroit has taken its own fair share of criticism for how women are portrayed in the game. If you had a bone to pick with David Cage about objectification and victimization, then Haydee is a riot for the senses. Thought Kara was dealt a shitty hand? Try being budget Samus for a few hours and you might get a new appreciation for the former.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted

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For a game with a threatening name, Sir, You Are Being Hunted has a reasonably idyllic premise. For all intents and purposes, it plays like a countryside walking simulator. Until deadly Victorian robots appear and try to tear you limb from limb. The dystopia portrayed in Detroit Become Human puts humans at the top of the food chain for their control of tech. Sir, You Are Being Hunted has you at the bottom, and it’s disconcerting how refreshing it is.

The robots mimic Victorian society in a way that perverts it entirely. They’re divided into different classes, complete with stereotypical trappings. To them, humanity are the uncivilised who scramble for power. It’s a new take on the age-old story about what happens once we get robots. Don’t miss it.

Sonic Forces

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Nothing screams “sci-fi horror” like a robot being forced to fight the image of the god that it was created in. Sonic Forces makes that quandary accessible to all ages, and that’s great. Metal Sonic is a Bad Guy, but it’s a case of artificial nature and nurture. What is Metal Sonic if not for a steel mammal filled with the anger of its creator? There’s something to be said about the psychological pain that Dr Eggman has subjected him to. This is a robot that wants to replace his idea of hedgehog-manity, and it’s chilling.

However, where the Detroit comparison comes from is perhaps in the overall commentary on what it means to be part of a revolution. GR’s Tyler Treese drew our attention to how Sonic was giving landmark speeches before Markus was conceived. In particular, Sonic Forces makes it clear that people have to work together to fix the world. If that sounds familiar, hark back to Jesse Williams wanting androids and humans to come together right now (not necessarily over him).

The list of titles that we’ve put together is by no means exhaustive. There’s a million and one games out there that ask questions about the dangers of technology, but only a few that truly make us work for the answers. Have we missed out on an existential masterpiece to rival Detroit Become Human? Let us know in the comments below.

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