Friday, April 27, 2018

Twitch VOD - Detroit: Become Human Demo

Okay, video content is simply hard to produce on a consistent basis. Editing videos takes time, and doesn't allow for much interaction.

Streaming is comparatively easy, allows for audience participation, and automatically saves a video of the event. This makes it a lot easier both for me to make content for you, and for you to have your voice heard.

My friends David Phillips and Andre Doucet joined me to play the demo for Quantic Dream's Detroit: Become Human. Here is the result:

Because of the games he produces and his presentation, it is easy to focus on and make fun of David Cage, especially in light of recent events. In the stream, even we fall victim to this trap. However, it is important to note that script aside, there is clearly a level of talent at Quantic Dream that shows in the environment, modeling, and detail that goes into the production of Detroit. These are high-quality assets in play, and the motion capture/actor performance is top notch.

And despite Andre's (legitimate) gripe that Cage's script doesn't make effective use of the setting, the scene is executed well. I've seen people on Twitter talk about how playing this demo sold them on the game, largely on the strength of this scene. To be fair to those people, who don't have prior experience with Quantic Dream, this is a very powerful scene. Sure, it's cliche. But in that cliche, David Cage offers more than enough to hook his audience in.

The reason my friend David, Andre, and I approach this demo with such cynicism is because we all have experience with David Cage games. The thing Cage excels at is writing individual scenes. Barring some of the questionable positions he's written his female characters into over the years, individual scenes are always strong on their own. In particular, the opening of Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy stands out as some of his best work.

But once he's asked to tie them together into something coherent, or to cash in on all the hooks and lingering plot threads he's established over the course of a story, they almost always come crashing down in a fantastic display. I won't speak for Andre or David, but a scene like this, as impressive as it is, only puts me on guard. Whatever potential that exists here is likely to be squandered later.

This has only become more clear as other studios enter the space of "narrative-heavy adventure" games, like Telltale and Hazelight (the makers of A Way Out), often with lower budgets, they show a mastery of the medium that Cage seems to lack. They understand how interactivity impacts the end-user experience, often producing content of a better narrative-quality (even if it lacks the visual polish of Cage's recent work).

Maybe this will be Cage's best work to date. Maybe this will be the one that finally breaks the curse, but I doubt it.

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