Are the decisions in Detroit a lie?

Detroit is a wonderful game, I personally said as much in our review. Much of my positivity for Detroit was down to its use of player agency, allowing you to alter and affect the game at various major points in the story.

After finishing it and seeing others wrapping up their tales, I’m starting to wonder if the decisions I made were all just a lie?

As Detroit hasn’t been out for too long I’ll keep this as spoiler-free as possible. In fact, it’s imperative that I do so as if there are others in my position then I encourage them to go back and see what I mean.

As the credits rolled on my story I took a moment to reflect. The controller rested on my leg as the names of all of these people came and went, each one helping to create a world and a narrative that allowed me to reach my own conclusion. In many ways, my Detroit tale ended the way it did due to my preconceived notions that I had of the characters and because of that, it all ended in a bleak manner.

Many of the main characters didn’t achieve what they set out to at the beginning, resulting in – what I now know for sure – is the darkest of Detroit’s timelines. As the credits rolled it dawned on me that the ending I received wasn’t the one I ultimately wanted but probably the one I deserved because of my actions. At the time, I accepted this as my fate. Even if it left me with a slightly cold feeling.

Watching others finish the game and replaying certain chapters again to collect all of the trophies has made me wonder whether there’s a certain way the developers want you to play the game.

Forcing me to ask myself: did I play Detroit in the wrong way?

Our very own Alexandra played most of Detroit in a similar fashion to myself. I watched as she made decision after decision that aligned with my own, from the most minuscule of moments to the vast chapter-breaking changes. There was one moment where we differed and seeing the effect that it had on the rest of the game made me feel a little cheated.

Sure, it was a major decision and it was clear that it was going to alter the crux of the story in a big way but I didn’t realise until after just how big. This one decision shortened my playtime by a considerable amount. While there are ways to drastically cut the length of the game by killing one of the main characters early – although you really need to go out of your way to do so – this decision didn’t involve a death. In fact, it cut some rather interesting scenes from me later on that helped the entire game to be a little more fleshed out. During these later scenes that I didn’t have access to because of my choice, it allowed the narrative to dig a little deeper and expose some of its more nuanced ideas.

The last couple of hours of Alexandra’s playthrough felt richer in a way that made me feel that I had made the wrong decision. I don’t regret deciding what I did but it’s almost as if Quantic Dream went with an ending they wanted most players to see and focused there; leaving players like myself to deal with a rather rushed and simplistic finish that left me with little.

Heavy Rain dealt with its final moments in a much better way, making almost every ending one that the developers could’ve intended to be the definitive one and in my mind, that’s why it remains David Cage and Quantic Dream’s best title to date.

I still like Detroit but my positivity for it will always be tarnished by feeling that I didn’t play it the way it was meant to. I lost further details within the story and playtime without gaining too much more from the decision that I made.

Ironically, if I hadn’t chosen what I did during Detroit then this piece would never have been written. It’s funny the effects one decision can have, isn’t it?

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