Gonna level with you: I don't like David Cage's games. At all. I think he receives an inexplicable amount of praise for games with trite stories and sexist undertones, along with stereotypical portrayals. David Cage's conceptual ideas sound great on paper, but spend a few minutes with his games themselves, and you realize that the execution is massively lacking.
All that said, I was not as impressed with Detroit: Become Human as others have been. And with the way Cage has been speaking of the game, I'm primed to be more unimpressed with Detroit: Become Human than any of Cage's other games.
In a conversation with Kotaku on Detroit: Become Human - a game that I'd like to remind everyone involves an android gaining sentience - Cage states that he "[doesn't want] the game to have something to say." This is the most inexplicable statement I've read this week. And it has been a long week. So I'm just going to try and approach this in a way that isn't too rant heavy - but I still might get there, so bear with me.
So, why is this statement so ridiculous to me? Well first, let's remove the game itself from the equation. The fact of the matter is that, regardless of intention, making art means that you will always have something to say. One cannot divorce their art from political aspects, or literary aspects, or societal commentary. All of these things have an influence on you when you create. There's no changing that, no vacuum where art is created devoid of meaning.
So there's that. But now let's bring the context of the game back in. Literally the first word in the title - Detroit - holds its own connotations to it. Detroit in and of itself is a symbol, be that of income inequality, racial inequality, or the death of the American Dream. Choosing Detroit as the setting for your game is already putting it into politically charged territory. You're already making a statement with your place of choice, Cage.
Beyond that, I can't begin to comprehend a writer's attempt to separate androids from politics, considering their creation in literature is based on political origins. From the outset, androids have had connections to the proletariat, to capitalism, and thoughts on free will. It isn't possible to focus on androids without making some sort of connection to classist under-or over-tones. So even if we assume that David Cage doesn't believe his game has this subtext (which I think it probably does), those political assumptions will be made regardless.
What especially annoys me about all this is that Cage's statement reeks of irresponsibility. It's as if he knows the themes he's dealing with are sensitive and complicated and believes that by waving away those more delicate aspects, then his game will be given a pass. But it's 2017, and the world is more politically charged than ever. Which means that Cage is going to have to own his political subtext.
But in a game that boils down a riot into [REFUSE] and [TAKE], I'm not expecting much.
To that end, an explanation of this article's title: Detroit: Become Human can't become human, because it's not taking a deep enough dive into socio-political commentary to question aspects of humanity in good faith. If David Cage isn't willing to do that, then I believe his game will fail.
Story-wise, at least. I'm sure it'll still receive critical acclaim, because that's the state of literature in videogames.