I’ve known about this game for a very long time. It attracted me with its cyberpunk themes and sci-fi setting since I saw one of those very first teaser trailers:
It was being made by one of the few remaining game companies with a good reputation, CD Projekt Red. Keanu Reeves and original cyberpunk creator Mike Pondsmith were heavily involved. There were viral videos:
I was hyped! And then all of that went crashing down at release time. The game proved to be a rushed, incomplete, broken and buggy mess. And so, disappointed to the core, I dropped it completely off my radar. I would occasionally see headlines about bosses taking responsibility or apologizing, lawsuits, patches, problems, fixes, some QA outsourcing scandal, additional free content, plans, tears, refunds, outrage, etc. I no longer cared. At least I didn’t care until at the end of December 2022 when I watched the netflix anime Cyberpunk Edgerunners.
Edgerunners' story left a hole in my soul, but it also left me wanting more. And this is how I bought the game on Steam for 30 EUR and went into the dark and unforgiving world of Night City.
On the official website, CD Projekt Red describe the game: “Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world, action-adventure story set in Night City, a megalopolis obsessed with power, glamor and body modification. You play as V, a mercenary outlaw going after a one-of-a-kind implant that is the key to immortality. You can customize your character’s cyberware, skillset and playstyle, and explore a vast city where the choices you make shape the story and the world around you.”.
I would describe it as a “cyberpunk gta rpg” or as an “open world deus ex human revolution”.
The actual gameplay is nice, it is ok, it’s nothing extraordinary. It has multiple systems that feel useless (for example crafting). It’s a pity they tried to put everything in this game. Maybe a leaner approach would have been better overall. You can ride cars and motorbikes, race, do quests, level up, go the hacker way or go be a ninja or just be a boxer… (these parts are actually very cool).
The combat is great and probably one of two things that would make me stay in that world and keep playing - to experiment with the different combat paths. As I leveled up I put my points mostly in machine guns and then swords - and after I installed a sandevistan I felt like a ninja god, moving around the enemies and cutting them to pieces while they were dying in slow motion. I changed these upgrades and paths only to finish the boxer set of side-quests (got some gorilla hands instead of the mantis blades).
This is where the game got me - the city is great. It felt amazing, just walking and looking around. There is so much attention to detail everywhere… I think most of the time I spent with it was me driving around on a motorcycle (the game has traffic jams, it’s a megacity of the future, so driving in cars slowly moving around doesn’t feel that good). There’s neon lights and billboards and and super highways and roads going in all directions.
Story and characters
The story of the game is also one of its strengths - I really loved the main quests but the additional ones as well. Some of them are downright insane. There is one where you have to help film an execution of a convict who found God and wants to be crucified. There are people who kidnap other people to steal their cyber implants and there are also others who kidnap people and have fun replacing natural parts with implants…
The characters are also very interesting and complex and you have multiple ways of interacting with some of them. What I really liked though was all the relationship building. I am not sure I have seen something so well done in any other game I have played.
Even though they aren’t lifelike, the fact that after a mission or an adventure together they text you asking how it’s going or apologizing for throwing a tantrum or telling you how they are feeling or that they miss you just made the relationships a little more genuine, and I am not talking just about the characters that you can pursue romantically.
I approached everyone with a friendly and honest attitude, but many of the people in Night City are either damaged or scarred or ready to step on everyone to get where they want. At least that is the facade they put up. Some change, most double cross you, some can grow with you and in the end even lay down their own life for yours. And the overall feelings are great.
While playing Cyberpunk 2077 I felt all kinds of not so positive emotions - I was sad, melancholic, in awe, afraid for my life, afraid for my friends' lives, worried about the future, depressed, happy and even horny at times… The bottom line was that it made me feel something while keeping me glued to the screen, and it wasn’t the usual for when I experience such intricate and complex stories.
I am really sad they rushed out the launch due to (ironically) corporate greed, it really could have been one of the greats.
However, I am hopeful. So hopeful in fact that the announced expansion “Phantom Liberty” is the first preorder I have ever made for a video game. Ideally I won’t regret it.