While writing this review for Cyberpunk 2077 I had to carefully consider what I would write about. Plenty of others would mention the gameplay, the wonderful graphics and what raytracing does. Others would mention how you can customize your character down to the choice of gender and genitals. I play V as a woman and she has humps and bumps in all the right places. However, playing through Cyberpunk 2077 is an experience. Levelling up, expending credits on tech is not there to hold you back, nor will help you. Instead, it will guide you through the story. The creators of the game have clearly learned from their previous efforts at building an open-world RPG. The Witcher 3 was not an easy game to beat, even after you developed the skills you still have an inventory system to master that actively undermines your experience. Not so with Cyberpunk 2077.
Ode to Cyberpunk
While playing the game I am reminded of so many pop-culture references to the Cyberpunk genre. The creators really must have studied the genre of the entire 8 years in which they developed the game. Before long V has an illegal implant stuck into her head, a relic with the memory engrams of Johnny Silverhand (played by Keanu Reeves). This is a reference to Johnny Mnemonic. Between her contemplative approach and his rude shoot-at-sight attitude players are carefully guided through the story. There are numerous voice actors who have added lines. Smaller parts were played by Alec Newman, Hideo Kojima and Jane Perry. Overall, the creators have adapted the original board game with care. Providing players an experience they have long wanted and won’t forget. Playing through Cyberpunk 2077 is a time sink. You will need to make a conscious choice to listen to the dialogue.
Playing Cyberpunk 2077 is also oddly subversive. Clearly there was a considerable intellect behind designing this game. There is considerable messaging regarding our own world, from casual mentioning of climate change to government non-interference. But those are the messages you get while casually loitering through Night City. There is plenty more underneath. Peel away the layers of gameplay and you end up with complex interactions with NPC. Quests can be completed in multiple ways. At times the player may be tempted to clock through the dialogue in as straight forward manner as possible, answering the questions to get a desired response. However in Cyberpunk 2077 this may well end up ruining a particular outcome to a quest. Case in point was the side-quest regarding the suicidal NCPD officer named Barry. Barry suffers from depression and recently had his pet tortoise die in him.
Cyberpunk 2077 redefines open-world
I decided not to tell the latter thing to his buddies at the NCPD, as it would be embarrassing to him. His buddies were not too pleasant to begin with. However, the result was that his buddies did not intervene and Barry ended up blowing his brains out. Guiding the conversation in a way I found more pleasant ended up having catastrophic consequences. The game is filled with such subversive choices. In one instance you had to retrieve a Datashard from thugs running an illegal implant chop shop (including decomposing bodies). After taking possession of the shard, you only need to return to the client for your payment. However, you can also look at the data that is on the shard. You are never told to do this, you are not hinted to do it and doing it is difficult, requiring tech you may not have.
But if you do it, you will end with a way to complete the quest in another way. You will also see a particular recurring in another light, for the remainder of the game. Therefore, players have to make choices between their greed, their natural instincts for survival and a desire to beat the game. All in an open-world that is just breathtakingly beautiful and interactive. The sheer number of neon light, cars and pedestrians is staggering. I was amazed at just how many alleys are modelled or that you could drive to the top of a garage. Moments I have experience before with Blade Runner, Altered Carbon, West World or Neuromancer are common place in Night City. Recently I played a lot of Watch Dogs Legion and as fun as that game is it cannot measure up to Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt Red has redefined open-world with this game.
Bugs, or lack thereof
Right before the launch of the game a lot was said about the game being buggy. Luckily CD Projekt RED has fixed most of those. In fact, for me it was one of the bets game launches in recent memory. While playing the game for about a dozen hours or so I have only encountered two or three visual bugs. At first whenever my female character looked into the mirror, she would be completely naked. Not exactly the worst bug! I made sure her clothes were on so I know it was a bug. It never recurred later on. Another bug happened during a busy interaction just outside Vs apartment. After pressing through the crowds, they were suddenly gone, no NPC as far as the eye could see. After driving away, they reappeared. Overall, the developers achieved a significant technical feat considering the numerous platforms they released Cyberpunk 2077 on.
The future of Cyberpunk 2077
The game is long from being over. I have yet to manage my first playthrough. In fact I am savoring the experience. This is not a game you want to rush through considering the time and effort the creators put in achieving that unique storytelling experience. Yet, as with most games its development is not over. In January a DLC is slated for release followed by an online mode game sometime in the future. Being able to experience Night City with others is a good idea as its bleak depiction of the future did make me feel isolated. However, if I could create a wish list for Cyberpunk 2077 then the following items will be one it. First, enable trade with every vendor. Right now about 1 in every 10 vendors can be talked to purchase and sell wares. Yet all the vendors are equally well modelled.
Second, enable interaction with NPC on the street. Right not most NPCs just give a standard reply, but I would like a dialogue. Even if the answers are standard. Third, enable public transport. Right now, there are no busses or trains in Night City. The latter is modelled but there are no stations (that I found). It would be a cool alternative to fast travel. Fourth, more public spaces such as libraries, pools, sports centers and entertainment. Maybe a few retro arcades and other mini-games. CD Projekt RED put in a lot of effort in what they have created, but it does not quite seem done. I know the creators have overcome significant technical problems and there may well be legitimate reason for not including these suggestions. However, with extra effort Night City has a chance of becoming something truly epic, something gamers will talk about for decades.
Stuck on my hard-drive
Cyberpunk 2077 is one of those games I know will still be om hard-drive for years to come. Playing it is like a dream, it is almost unreal. A word to the wise. You do not need a suped-up PC to play this game. I have an older i5 with an RTX 2060 and it plays fine with the settings set to high. No doubt ultra will spectacular, but I do not need it. If you enjoyed this rant than please fill in the subscription widget to the right!