In 2011 CD Projekt CEO Adam Kiciński decides to give the greenlight on a game called Cyberpunk, which was to be developed in parallel with The Witcher 3. Nine years later, the game is now available on the market, and after years of heightened anticipation, there’s good reason for it to be put under the microscope.
Cyberpunk’s open world map is impressive in comparison with the blurrier Yakuza Like a Dragon. Night City is fitted with captivating billboards. Crosswalks have been designed to be futuristic and integrated with the timescape, a fine detail within a rich environment. Some of its buildings, depicted on both the outside and inside, can be visited by exploring all the tunnels that constitute the city’s notable density.
And its general public features a much less repetitive character model ratio than similar games. To visit this world, you first need a persona. Enter V: a main character with a smart and simple name suitable for any sex, any gender, any genre, any body (literally). The only catch is that later on it’s revealed that the masculine V’s real name is Vincent, and the feminine V is Valerie.
The game’s customization options are definitely reduced and don’t fulfill any promises. Among the limited number of combinations available to you, the only decisions with actual relevance are sex and voice type (a proxy for gender), which determine the characters you’re able to strike up a romance with. Similarly, the choice between life paths is only for show, manifesting solely during a playable introduction with no real meaning.
It doesn’t take long before everything converges into the same story line. Though, specific dialogue choices do become available throughout various interactions, should offer different ways to resolve situations and develop a sense of identity in unique side quests, but they are a decoy.
Character customization proceeds with five attributes made to suit your individual playstyle and approach to problem-solving. They can be improved throughout the game via – you guessed it! – Attribute Points, which work hand-in-hand with Perk Points.
These are useful for moving through the skill tree, which is comprised of 60 perks that are nothing particularly inspired compared to what you’ve seen out there before. Should you take the alternative route of building a character with high Intelligence and refined hacking abilities, you can take full of advantage of your Cyberdeck and its quick hacks.
That said, some of the perks are useless or suffer from poor design and implementation. Human Shield works only if you can grab the body of someone you’ve already killed off the floor; and the grab command itself is broken and useless, with bad controls and game mechanics that allow you to seize only certain enemies not in combat mode.
Equipment management asks you to choose from a set of standard clothes and outfits. Clearly all the influencers had a little side conversation beforehand and decided that you should choose one of the many styles marketed before launch: now, everybody’s just relying on the items with the best attributes and having a laugh at the outcome.
Managing your inventory is honestly problematic and unreasonable. It could potentially be due to keyboard mapping in which the tab button is given too much relevance while mouse buttons are underutilized. And the weapons section is nothing deserving of a better word.
The number of weapons per type falls a bit short. Taking a moment to review your arsenal, you’ll notice that you have a collection of repeat weapons, though maybe with slightly different stats. The color-coded rarity attributes take a page from Borderlands, which is well known as a looter shooter. Maybe because CD Projekt itself decided to change the genre of the game on the sly.
But that was by design: what up until May 19 was a roleplaying game became an open-world, action-adventure story. And not necessarily a bad story considering its different arcs with characters who fail utterly only to rise again, not to mention its regular selection of side quests, gigs and contracts that can be praised as having decently creative and quality writing. Spending copious amounts of money and resources to include a pop culture icon didn’t play well; but hey, they wanted to put Justin Timberlake on the cover. Their call.
Unfortunately, the writing lacks in development since this game has no idea what cause and effect is, so you might end up with incoherent and conflicting behaviors or situations between subsequent quests. They are isolated incidents rather than pieces of a larger puzzle. It’s when you start adding all the bad things that constantly blow up in your face that you can no longer live in denial.
The driving mechanics and handling are not what’s breaking this game. A bigger issue is that each traffic car has a predetermined path on a loop and they are unable to adapt in case of obstacles, and police doesn’t know how to chase you. Driver was released on the PSOne in 1999.
Is something better too much to ask for decades later? Moreover, at times cars will pass through intersections disregarding the traffic light. The developers scripted these lights to turn green as you approach so that you don’t have to stop and won’t feel like you’re violating any rules if you don’t, thus avoiding any objection related to a lack of realism. At least Cyberpunk reminds you that answering the phone while driving is not recommended.
It doesn’t go unnoticed that you’re the only one riding a motorbike around town, or that the only NPC on one is Panam in a scripted event that the programmers and designers forgot even existed, it being as bad as it is.
She’s unable to turn or make any independent driving decisions; instead, she just rolls along on her default path as long as you’re moving forward, no matter what direction you take. Moreover, in that same quest you come across a handful of soldiers who pee their pants as the only person able to ride a bike shows up. Definitely unfinished features.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a game with the depth and sophistication of games released 20 years ago. The sound design is unconvincing, as a matter of personal taste, the reverberation is a little excessive and heavy on the ear, and somewhat inconsistent between your character and the NPCs. All that said, the audio department is not absolved of guilt by the glitches that plague the rest of the game, regardless of its unassailable soundtrack. The average user might find some of the not-so-popular and obviously troll-y techno, dubstep and trap tracks disturbing: Yes, CD Projekt, I know you’re trolling.
Visuals steal the show, however inexcusably un-optimized they may be. The main characters’ models magnify their personalities and the setting is something difficult to find anywhere else. You can debate the first person POV as much as you want. At the end of the day, it lends a unique perspective from which to direct and experience events, and should be accepted for what it is.
In fact, some scenes have been specifically written and directed around the first person. But overall, the graphics department is nothing next gen. For the record, exposing bugs and problems is anything but nitpicking. When you strictly try to play through the main quest line like it’s a corridor from Final Fantasy 13 – expecting the essential content to be safe and tightly sealed – only to have it fail on you, what you’ve got is a broken game.
Then again, that was already predictable from the glitchy official content publicized right before release (and nobody said a thing). If it’s true that the QA Manager had the spirit to brag right before the game dropped that his play through was at 175 hours and had a long way yet to go his opinion on this kiosk where some thieves are doing their business could be interesting. You can simply stand there spectating and nobody will step in. As it happens, there are some civilians recording everything (24/7 of course).
Seems like nobody gives a damn. For fun, let’s walk in front of the camera. Hey, look at that, they’re recording us. Now there’s proof we didn’t do anything wrong. Let’s get closer to the gang without any weapons pulled, causing an assault to break out. As you can see, now we’re the focus of everybody’s attention, and if what they say is true, then firing weapons will result in a police intervention.
Hmmmm…. We could be waiting a hell of a long time. Nobody’s coming. Let’s fire literally two bullets. We’ve been warned that if we commit theft or fire at civilians, we’ll be hunted down by the police. And here we are, in the crossfire of both thieves and police, who have spawned out of nowhere right in front of us.
Of course, that’s just an unfortunate coincidence, just like a character who’s going down the stairs backwards, or a scripted adversary constantly phasing in and out, or a bunch of enemies in an area that you can easily skip by just running through them. They lose all cognition of you, just like that. It’s not cherry-picking when you’re in a scripted area and an enemy just keeps on strafing in front of you without any intention of shooting as you make your way to a designated point.
Then you try a side quest – only one – the mission being to get this person safely out of a hostile area. There’s this guarded passage you’re probably gonna be forced to go through. But the map is full of houses and corridors. Perhaps here we’ll get to see some of the well-refined level design and freedom of choice we’ve been marketed: you know, the different options and approaches for resolving a situation.
So, we try to pass by the bridge. And we get stuck. And our cybernetic superhero is shitting himself, unable to get out of it with his escort intact. The game’s not failing us at all as we struggle to make a getaway and it tells us that the guard has identified a dead body… in a place where we’ve never been to or done anything or killed anyone.
Loading up again from the save point, we decide to take a different approach. We just go through it. As it turns out, the number of guards on the scene is not sufficient to kill somebody who’s no doubt exhausted from carrying another person for a decent way. And afterward, they end up forgetting about you and start an exchange with someone else – which might sound cool as a game mechanic, but it’s really not.
There’s no faction system or gang dynamics, so exactly none of this makes sense. By simply being an observer, you get notified that you’ve completed another job. You’re then called by a fixer saying you resolved a situation, namely retrieving and saving another person from a store and putting him in a trunk while there’s this group out there still discussing how to deal with global warming.
Cyberpunk is – irrespective of platform – just an overhyped, broken, average game that’s not worth playing or paying for at this time. Perhaps by waiting another year, you might get a more decent, but still average and forgettable-at-best, experience at an honest price. You don’t play it because it’s fun and time well spent. Puyo Puyo X Tetris is fun.
You play it because you want to see when it’s gonna start to deliver, where the magic will kick in, if it’s gonna get better or even good after rounding the next corner. You don’t wanna be left out of the loop: you have a fear of missing out. You’re not playing Cyberpunk.
No, you’re doing Quality Control, and paying for it. In a building where a frightening code red is sounding in the background, a guard identifies a dead body. Then, after few steps he turns around and reverts back to a laidback, unalert posture, facing a corner there’s no need to face so he can keep playing Genshin Impact on his phone.
The cover/stealth mechanic gets ruined when you input a double tap. The system reads this as a dodge and makes your character stand up, abandoning their stealthy position. The stealth approach can be more difficult than expected due to an evident lag with keyboard commands. At times stealth-related prompts won’t show up due to rigid positioning requirements, and when they do, your kill options are limited to lethal or non-lethal with the same animation regardless of what you choose.
One issue that appears immediately when creating your character is that the cursor doesn’t register your clicks. You experience a sort of input lag, with clicks only being counted when you release a button rather than when you press it. Either that or perhaps the system strictly distinguishes between a click and a hold in every interaction.
The suggestion that Cyberpunk is incomplete is corroborated by Braindance items for sale that have zero use, a cutscene teasing a big fight only to cut straight to you in another place ready to flee, and an insane volume of calls in which people offer you quests to obtain a car if you reach its position on the map, not to mention the attributes page, which has an animated empty space you can highlight in the interface. It’s a leftover that appears after a specific main quest. Weird. In any case, there’s still a blank space.
They didn’t take it out and readapt the UI. V is as blank a slate as Lightning, getting partially filled in throughout the game. You have no idea where the character comes from. The series of intro scenes filling in a two-year time gap is reminiscent of the infamous Final Fantasy XV scene. It’s something that needs to be played through if you want to develop any sense of attachment or connection to what comes soon after. You have no idea what it means to live as a Corpo, what it means to lose everything, or what it means to have to regain your status.
There is one area where Cyberpunk 2077 seems to be nailing it but isn’t, and that is its sinners’-Eden world governed by charm, temptations, depravation, and wickedness – where civilians are tamed by superfluous and ephemeral pleasures, digging on tequila, virtual sex, and technological junk, and where DPS stands for “dildos per second.”
The game’s environmental artists are very talented and did a great job but the question lingers. What’s really important to show and tell: Kojima’s cameo in the game and dildos? The references and pop culture in Cyberpunk are fabulous, but it’s all just fan service designed to induce the creation of sharable social media content that subtly advertises the game: it’s no more cyberpunk than any Deus Ex. Cyberpunk 2077 honestly fits more within the Sci-fi category.
This fake world has been hideously extended to our real world and to the gaming industry. Just take that series hosted by a winking strawberry blonde who compels you to preorder and buy digital goodies, rewards, and limited editions of Cyberpunk versions they have never even shown. Influencers and YouTubers of all kinds, not to mention those that were paid to appear in the game, only reluctantly began to critique it once customers were already up in arms. They follow the winds of the popular sentiment. Still, the only videos they’re producing focus on the buzz, allowing them to capitalize on a hot mess of gossip without jeopardizing themselves.
And even when content producers do say something unflattering, they are very careful to add 12 asterisks, 42 parentheses, and a couple minutes of explanation about how their content is not intended to offend the company or any developer in order to avoid getting placed on a blacklist.
These same influencers, who in their Twitch playthroughs have yet to learn the Braindance and Breach Protocol mechanics by the second half of the game, and/or who are proclaimed Captain Tsubasa fans, don’t issue proper reviews or express their honest opinion that the game is bad. And of course, they don’t catch the reference to that manga in the game. You can rest assured that their recommendations and Cyberpunk reviews – the ones with, you know, old deceptive marketing footage of cut content, because they are… content CREATORS – have your best interest at heart, and that all were made without any regard to benefiting said influencers or the company they’re supposed to mention.
There are CD Projekt ex- employees coming out of the woodwork who at each reveal bragged that they were doing Cyberpunk, but are now contacting influencers on live platforms, explaining why they quit the company before the release and how toxic the work environment is. YouTubers can’t resist the temptation to put on airs by listening to leakers’ words, lending an ear – only privately and off screen, of course – for personal fetishism and exclusive gossip while publicly saying nothing against the company, and still recommending the game.
What stays uploaded forever are the positive reviews where influencers look like they’re attending a funeral because they’re sad they can’t avoid talking about the things that aren’t working well, always put in diplomatic terms. Since others didn’t hide these problems, they have to say something, too, so as to avoid a backlash against a lack of professionalism and transparency.
And their opinions mean more than yours, which is substantiated by the fact that companies send them free (cyber)junk, including a GPU you can’t buy anywhere, and invite them to attend events all over the world at no expense. These companies get good PR and their guests produce videos that generate money and reputation. Best of all, people see them as reliable, trustworthy, and competent.
That’s what validates their opinions. Who cares whether they’ve made a branded, special edition Cyberpunk video card with a design that looks like this, and that is 2 years old by the time the game launches. And Cyberpunk has clearly been released with the intention of DLSS being on, a decision that sets a very dangerous precedent for any future game. Surely it’s just a coincidence that a few months before it was put on the market, when the game was already considered to be complete, a preview was published showing only 1080p with DLSS. Did anyone ever question the need to display the game at such a low resolution with an upscaling restorative AI?
Heavens, no! Not when CD Projekt pops onto your Twitch channel to say “hi” in the chat. And we, as consumers, have to accept things with a smile – and be grateful – that our day-one dollars on a game like this go towards sending gifts and swag to total strangers all around the world.
Cyberpunk is the epitome of “buying the hype” instead of “buying a videogame.” It’s the legitimization of stock markets within the gaming industry. Selling promises is a condemned practice for kickstarters and other early access games, but in this particular case, as a fanatic you have to defend what you buy. Games as a service have a bad reputation, but buying a game like this now and having to wait who knows how many months is somehow just fine. It’s despicable – exhibiting the degeneracy to blindly defend a corporation, even recommending that others join in as if it were a Ponzi scheme. And if you think the marketing machine has stopped, you haven’t caught on to the strategy.
Now it’s all about optimization, the framerate, some underwhelming feature that needs fixing. That’s the narrative. And there’s a business motive behind all this commitment to fixing the game: CD Projekt is going after GTA Online money. The Cyberpunk multiplayer is gonna be their next big thing and it’s gonna happen ASAP. That’s why they need to gain your trust now: so they can convince you to buy that later. Good luck with this company working on both games. The upcoming next-gen PS5 update is just more buzz, a general update that simply brings the console versions on par with the PC version. Any added content is gonna be just a PR opportunity.
On PC it’s playable, it doesn’t crash, the map is cool, and it’s got some good graphics and art – and that’s been enough to avoid any greater criticism. Everything that’s been revealed (and scrapped) is being swept under the rug by an avalanche of distractions in the form of news and rumor bombing. All you’re left with is a useless and lifeless world where you can do nothing but go from one position to another.
You’re unable to do anything meaningful or different aside from interacting with brainless NPCs whose main form of action is to insult you, when they are not crawling or disappearing. When entering a club on separate occasions, you find the same person at the desk. Rather than being a theatrical stage that shows the effects of your actions, it’s a mere container.
A good, un-optimized graphics department doesn’t mean we’re dealing with a new Crysis. If you feel like trusting your favorite YouTuber or media outlet, make sure to ask him or her why they have rated this game as highly as Mario 64 or Half Life; and if not quite as high as those, then as good as other common recommendations like Assassin’s Creed, Watchdogs, The Division, or…what about Avengers. “It’s not that bad” or “it’s not a masterpiece” or “it’s a POTENTIAL masterpiece”, they usually say, like the unforgettable Thief, LA Noire, Mass Effect Andromeda, Fallout 76, Anthem, The Order: 1886, Destiny?
Reviewers are convinced that they’ve demolished the game if they rate it a 7. Speaking of 7s, what about the Final Fantasy VII Remake? Another game they discussed a lot…they said those horrible low-res textures could have been easily patched, right? That’s why it had just a small 1.01 patch (only after 6 months) that didn’t solve it.
It’s too late: You live in a dystopian Cyberpunk world, even if you don’t buy this game. It’s not about reality, it’s about what people want to be true. Your brain is already plugged in with the rest of them.