Detroit: Become Human was released nearly a week ago. Since then, players have no doubt played through the story multiple times, uncovering the thousands of various outcomes and consequences that are possible for the three playable android protagonists: Conner, a cutting-edge prototype android assigned to the Detroit Police Department to track down “deviants” - androids that have bypassed their programming, taking control of their own actions and becoming violent against their owners; Kara, a domestic service android who turns deviant in an effort to save a little girl from the abusive father she serves; and Markus, an in-home care android who winds up becoming a deviant on the run, eventually becoming the leader of the android liberation movement.
This article reflects the storyline experienced from the first playthrough of the game, which – thanks to not knowing how any decision might impact the game’s ending – proved to be the most emotionally impactful version, as we uncovered Detroit: Become Human’s primary goal of understanding what it truly means to be human.
The game begins from Conner’s perspective, acting as a negotiator for a deviant android holding a human little girl hostage. Talking the deviant down is no easy task, but the android eventually releases the little girl with the belief that no harm will come to it. That belief is short-lived, however, as swat members immediately open fire, shredding the android. This is the first instance that makes Conner’s own programming start questioning black-and-white justice and social inequalities.
Plenty more of these situations make their mark on Conner throughout the game, especially during conversations and interactions with his assigned partner, Lieutenant Hank Anderson. Hank is a rough-around-the-edges Detroit Police Officer who admittedly despises androids, but following the encounters that he and Conner experience, Hank comes to appreciate and respect Conner as a friend.
We next meet Markus, running an errand for his ailing owner, Carl. Markus has a run-in with some android protestors who rough him up a little bit before a police officer intervenes. The encounter is the beginning Markus’ path towards deviancy. Upon returning home, Carl’s son, Leo, comes by to borrow some money from his dad to be used to fuel his drug habit. When Carl denies him, Leo confronts Markus, saying Carl cares more for Markus more than his own son. After Leo starts shoving him, Markus breaks through his programming and shoves back, knocking Leo unconscious. Carl tells Markus to run, but before he can escape, the police arrive and shoot Markus, mistaking him for an intruder.
Markus manages to wake up in an android-graveyard of sorts. After replacing his broken parts, he makes his way to Jericho; an abandoned ship for deviant androids to live in hiding. Markus has no intention of living his days out in hiding, and he rallies the people of Jericho into sparking a revolution with the goal of androids being recognized as a race, receiving the same rights and privileges as humans. While the majority of Markus’ tactics are peaceful, casualties do occur, shaping the public opinion of the android liberation movement.
Finally, Kara – from the short demo on which Detroit: Become Human was based – makes her appearance. Having been fixed from (as we eventually come to find out) being beaten at the hands of her owner, Kara returns home to resume her life of fulfilling household duties and taking care of her owner and his daughter, Alice. It does not take long for the owner to go off on a violent rampage, intending to beat his daughter. Before he can do anything, Kara overrides her programming and runs to the aid of Alice. Kara fights off the father long enough for her and Alice to make an escape, catching a bus en route to their new life, surviving together.
The two make their way through the rough city, overcoming close-call terrors and hardships. They eventually gain a large-sized android friend named Luther, who becomes the duo’s guardian, and the three of them make their way to the border in hopes of living in peace in Canada; a neutral country with no anti-android legislation.
The game comes to a head when the three characters find themselves in the same location aboard Jericho. Kara meets Markus, and asks him for help obtaining fake passports for entering Canada. While preparing for the next move of the android liberation movement, Markus is confronted by Conner, who sneaks aboard to take down the leader of the deviant movement.
Following a conversation between the two, Conner is left with a single choice: shoot Markus or don’t. Conner (in our case) decides not to shoot, overriding his programming and becoming a deviant himself. Swat teams move in and storm the ship, creating mass chaos as the androids try to escape. Conner, Markus, Kara, and Alice are able to narrowly escape, while Luther is not so lucky.
In an effort to increase the android movement’s numbers, Conner goes to Cyberlife – the source of where androids are built – to liberate the androids. Unfortunately, he is met by another Conner prototype who has taken Hank hostage. Hank overwhelms the android, and holds both of the androids at gunpoint. Hank asks the two androids questions that only the real Conner would know. He asks what the name of his son was – a topic that never came up during the course of the game – which ultimately leads to the real Conner’s demise. After stating the wrong name, Hank shoots and kills Conner. The fake prototype leaves, having fulfilled his objective, leaving Hank with his remorse and Conner’s lifeless body.
With nothing left to lose, Markus switches from peaceful to more violent tactics, and faces off against human soldiers with the remaining android resistance population. The death toll is high, which leads Markus to his final decision. Instead of giving up peacefully, he sets off a dirty bomb from the heart of Detroit that emits lethal radiation levels over a fifty-mile radius. Detroit is gone for the human population. Only surviving androids, including Markus, exist in its embers, but do so freely.
With Jericho and their former lives behind them, Kara and Alice head for the Canadian border with the help of a good-Samaritan named Rose, and her son Adam. The two make it all the way to Canadian customs, only to find that entry into the country requires a facial scan to ensure no androids are allowed through. With nowhere left to turn, Kara sends Alice away with Rose. As they stand in line, Kara’s face is scanned, uncovering her android origins. Guards surround Kara and shoot her immediately. Rose, Adam, and Alice make their way through customs, finally making it to Canada.
While this ending was not the most uplifting, it was enjoyable and emotionally engaging. The complexity of Detroit: Become Human’s overarching goal of fleshing out what it means to be truly human creates a solid case for replaying the game, if for nothing other than experiencing the other outcomes that are possible, based on the choices that are made throughout the entire story.