A Few Tips for playing Detroit: Become Human

Scan is your friend

The Scan function (a.k.a. the mind palace) is your ability to scan the area and see objectives and things you can interact with. On the PS4/PS5, holding the R2 button scans.

Get used to this and use it frequently. You will see your current objectives, and interactables will appear with a yellow icon. You’ll be able to rotate the camera 360 degrees while in scan as well. There are a few other things you can do with scanning that you’ll discover throughout the game. If you aren’t sure what to do, scan and look around.

Some things to remember with scanning:

  • The game pauses while scanning, so if you need a minute to think, hit scan and take a breather.
  • The camera will stay in approximately the same place when you let go of scan. This makes it easy to reorient the camera if you are having trouble moving it around.
  • While most interactable objects will show up when you scan, not all will (including some important ones). Don’t let a lack of icon keep you from checking things out.
  • Most icons will disappear after you interact with the object. However, magazines will continue to have an icon even after you interact with them. That’s doesn’t mean there’s a clue or you missed something – they just always show active.

Beware the choice descriptions

You will get a lot of options to choose from in the game, especially during dialog. You’ll be given short descriptions of the options, usually one word. Sometimes what the character actually says will not be what you expected. Connor has this problem a lot. Characters sometimes have unexpected reactions to options as well. Be prepared that it is inconsistent throughout the game. Often, you aren’t so much deciding for the characters as much as you are nudging them.

Some hints on dialog options:

  • Options that are timed have a little meter below them that goes down quickly. If there’s no line, you can take your time on the choice. You can pause in the middle of a timed choice if you need to think.
  • Options with a blue corners around them are actions – they mean the character is going to do something rather than talk about doing something. It doesn’t mean that the action will have a better outcome, however.
  • Be careful with options labeled ‘Determined’, as in many cases the character will come across more aggressive than you expect (especially Markus).

The controls can be tricky

The controls can be a little tricky at first. The game will often show you what you need to do, but the symbols and indictors can be ambiguous, and they can change up things unexpectedly. The details also vary by platform.

Some things to be aware of:

  • There are a lot of quick-time events – when things get tense, be ready to hit buttons/move the stick or mouse a lot.
  • Depending on the situation, you may need to just press the indicated button once, press it repeatedly, or press and hold. Sometimes you’ll have to use multiple buttons at the same time. You might even have to hold one more more buttons while tapping another, or in conjunction with moving the stick/mouse.
  • If you are using a controller, expect to use all of the buttons. Also, you will have to use the track pad, and there are times where you will be expected to move the controller itself physically.
  • Use the early chapters to get used to the controls and the indicators that the game gives you.

Don’t sweat the flowchart

The flowchart has a lot of options and details, but if often a bit arbitrary in terms of what it records and where. I’ve seen a lot of people fret when they missed things or when there are blank steps in what they thought was a complete run-though of the chapter. Don’t worry about it – the game is meant to be replayed.

Some things to remember:

  • The entire flowchart cannot be accessed in one playthrough. There are branches only accessable by certain choices especially big choices.
  • A lot of steps on the flowchart are side details – did you see X, did you read the magazines, did you do Y on the way to Z, etc. You don’t have to fill them all in for a good experience and many have no lingering effect on the game.

Choose the right difficulty

The game offers two levels of difficulty for you to choose from in the Options. There are not a lot of differences, but make sure you choose the one you will enjoy most.

  • There a number of bad endings that are only available on the harder difficulty. If you are looking to see everything, you’ll need to use that. All good endings are available on both levels. So you won’t lose any real story if you play on easy.
  • Quick-time events are a little bit more complex and less forgiving on the higher difficulty. If you are one who is really bad at QTEs, use the less difficult setting.
  • When you are analyzing for clues, you will see lines leading from your cursor to the clue in the easy setting. In the more difficult setting, you’ll receive no hints like that.
  • Most importantly, you can go back and change the difficulty back and forth during the game. So adjust the setting as you need it.

Perspective and the Big Picture

They tell us to look at the Big Picture. And in the 21st century, we are feeling the effects of technology giving us access to the Big Picture – we can collect and be presented data from all over the world and even beyond. It’s a constant flood of data that we feel we have to process and consume. We feel we have to be aware about it, have opinions about it, act to affect the Big Picture.

But we can’t affect the Big Picture.

This isn’t a message of powerlessness, however. I’m not saying we are resigned to our fate and we can do nothing about the world. See, the problem with the Big Picture is a lie. The Big Picture doesn’t exist.

The Big Picture is a dangerous idea. It makes us think that there is an overarching reality, that there is a single overall thing we call Life. We try to examine life, understand it as this amazing thing that we partake in. But we don’t partake in anything like that. What we think is the Big Picture is a sand-painting made up of the results of countless mid-life collisions and and multi-soul pile ups.

Here’s the truth: no one lives in the Big Picture. We live in little pictures. We live in little individual universes that are framed by our boundaries as finite beings. We live in little pictures that overlap with other little pictures, little pictures that collide with each other and bounce wildly back and forth like a mass of super balls dumped into the top of an empty elevator shaft. There are patterns, and global principles, and all that sure, but in the end, the universe isn’t a big thing, it’s a countless number of little things knocking around.

This isn’t about fatalism. This is an acknowledgement of the nature of the universe, so that we understand the power we do have and what we can do.

Because there is something that we do have enormous power over: our little pictures.

First, they say politics is local. We can’t direct other people’s universes, but we can steer our ship. And it is inevitable that we will collide with others. Some will be pirates, trying to loot what they can from you. But most will just be other people trying to steer their picture the best way they can. That means that the first thing that you can do is make those collisions count, to decide to lean back and forth in an attempt to crash into people in the best way possible.

Every bump is a chance to make the universe a better place. With every bump, we can try to do right by the other people around us – to give a nudge in the right direction, to be careful not to bump into their bruises and wounds, to learn something from running into each other, to help someone get on a better course.

Sure, we want to make the biggest changes we can in the world. But except in very special circumstances, we are all just bumping into one another. And if we don’t take care with those little bumps, we simply will never make any headway. This is the way that we have to combat the evils in the world – cruelty, racism, injustice, bigotry, greed, and everything else. It can’t be about the big gestures, because so little of life is big gestures. Rather, we fight against those evils with every little bump against another person’s universe, striving to be the best collision we can be.

That seems exhausting, but we also have the power to make it easier and more sustainable. Once again, it comes down to primary capability in life – the power to affect our own little picture.

You see, your picture may be little, but that doesn’t mean your picture can’t be detailed. The size of your picture doesn’t affect the resolution of your picture – how many pixels per inch that your life has. One of the ways you make all those collisions count is by making your picture the most beautiful, detailed, and meaningful picture you can.

“Arete” is what Edith Hamilton describes as the ancient Greek definition of happiness: The exercise of vital powers, along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope. We’ve been taught that the world is a place of scarcity, and that we have to fight over the scraps. But the truth is that arete is an infinite resource. The possibility for excellence cannot be bought or sold, it cannot be taken away.

I don’t mean to trivialize the pain that a lot of people deal with every day, nor do I deny the tragedy in the world. I am not trying to imply that injustice isn’t real, horrific, and often overwhelming. I’m not saying that the world can’t break you.

But I am trying to say is that every little iota of arete, every little mote of human excellence is precious and beautiful and enduring. It cannot be corrupted by the darkness in the world, it cannot be destroyed. Every one you bring into the world is a mithril thread in the tapestry that sits in the frame of your little picture. Every moment of good in your life is a diamond embedded in the surface of history. And it doesn’t matter if that’s a small gem, or a gem covered in ash and soot, or one gem among many. It’s still a motherfucking diamond, and it is a part of your picture.

Shine on, you crazy diamond.

The Big Picture is a dangerous tool, because with it we can easily forget the power of the little picture we actually live in. I think that’s the biggest danger of the Internet age.