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Detroit: Become Human is a moral puzzle of dangerous options

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David Cage digs into dialog trees once again

Detroit: Become Human is a stacked matrix of potential outcomes, all strung together by invisible lines of actions, not yet taken.

Like all David Cage games (such as Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls), it's a story that tries to put the player in the role of storyteller.

The level of his success depends on whomever you care to ask. Many find his games just a tiny bit dull: pretty narrative tableaux supported by observational puzzles and dialog trees, that purport to be detective procedurals.

Others hail them as emotional journeys brushing tantalizingly close to that most holy of holies: the interactive movie.

In Detroit, Cage has created a world in which the values of humanity are probed. Advanced androids serve people like slaves. But, it turns out, they have feelings too.

Okay, it's not like we haven't seen this neo-noir idea before. And yet, it's just as relevant as it's ever been, just as capable of exploring people and our awfulness, rather than merely technology and its possibilities.

In the section shown at E3 this week, and in an extended version I saw at the Sony booth yesterday, all the people are awful, with the possible exception of a kidnapped child, being dangled over the edge of a skyscraper by a distraught android servant.

You are Connor, an android built to deal with situations just like this. And from the moment you arrive at the unfolding situation, you have to start making choices.

At its core this is a puzzle, so the smart thing to do is gather information, even though your chances of success diminish as time ticks on (your visual display includes a countdown).

As a player, you can go right into confronting the perp, but your options will be limited. Not only that, but investigating crime scenes is obviously part of this game's central offering.

Connor has to use multiple cameras to make sure he picks up all the clues. He can then literally reconstruct the crime scene, giving you a visual representation of the bad things that occurred.

Connor will notice items of interest. Once investigated, they furnish him with the information he'll need to ask the right questions once he confronts the rogue android.

This brings up a series of dialog tree options, with a limited time to respond. On the whole, I found the "right" responses here to be pretty obvious. But this is just a demo, and a poor way to judge the wider game.

Undoubtedly, we can expect some intriguing, challenging storylines as well as top notch acting from the cast, including Valorie Curry and Bryan Dechart. There's no release date yet on Detroit: Become Human, which will be published by Sony on PlayStation 4.