Eight whole years since the first announcement of Cyberpunk 2077, eight whole years. We got our first trailer in 2013, then silence. The trailer was classy and looked every part next-gen, perfectly accompanied by the song Bullets, by British avant-garde rock band Archive. It blew me away, and hype began. Then, radio silence ended E3 2018 and, Keanu Reeves happened… so all aboard the hype train again!
“Wake The F*** Up Samurai, We Have A City To Burn” – Welcome To Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk 2077 is an action role-playing game that was released on December 10th, 2020 on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Stadia. Both developed and published by CD Projekt Red, it was their first game since 2014’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The game is based on the pen and paper role-playing series Cyberpunk created by Mike Pondsmith. Mike also features in the game and was a consultant on the project.
The year 2020 has proven that anything is possible, and as such, one of the most hyped games in recent years has not had a good launch. So, for clarity, I am reviewing my experiences playing version 1.04 on a PS4 Pro and I will be re-reviewing further down the line. The original trailer stated it was “coming when it’s ready”, so put on your best dark synthwave playlist and let’s check out what I thought.
Your name is ‘V’, a cybernetically enhanced mercenary. And if you don’t get Johnny Silverhand out of your head, you are going to die. It’s as simple as that. Before descending into the neon abyss that is Night City, you have to look good. Looks are everything in Night City. And as such, character creation is your first stop. Here you can change pretty much everything, and I mean EVERYTHING!
Once done here you will then need to choose your background. Choose between either Nomad, Street Kid, or Corporate. Each back story will have its own opening quest and have significant consequences on your playthrough. Throughout the game, you will also be given certain options unique to your backstory, like specific dialogue choices. Then of course your attributes need to be assigned like any good RPG. Specific attributes, depending on if they’re high enough will be useful in conversations and significant in quest outcomes.
The first couple of story missions aren’t just a prologue, but also serve as a basic tutorial. Once they are done and the map starts to open up. And, oh my god there is so much to do! And so much fun doing it. If you can pull yourself from the fantastically written main story, then go and do side jobs, gigs, hustles, cyberpsycho sightings. Do as much as you can because it is integral to your progression. Cyberpunk 2077 is massive and you owe it to yourself to do as much as you can.
If you are familiar with The Witcher 3, then you will be no stranger to some of the mechanics in place. The dialogue mechanics echo that of which, where your first dialogue option will be to further the conversation and choices underneath to gather more information. Whiffs of The Witcher 3 are scattered throughout, but no deeper than within character progression, inventory, and crafting. It may take you a while to get your head around just how deep it is with all you can upgrade.
Perks are related to your attributes, the higher level of your attributes, the more perks within that attribute you can unlock. Once into the perks section, you are met with two or more subsections which you choose what to upgrade. Worry not, if you’re not happy with your build, there is an item you can buy later which lets you reassign all your points, but it does not come cheap!
Take your time playing with weapons to find out what suits you. For example, I will always choose a stealth playstyle where I can, so a samurai sword is my weapon of choice. All of which are fully upgradable also. In terms of playstyle and overall feel, a great deal of influence has been taken from the Deus Ex franchise. But no matter how you play, you are rewarded. As I said, I aim to be stealthy, but it doesn’t always end up that way. Before you know it, you are guns blazing, but still rewarded so. You aren’t penalised for breaking style.
Quick hacks are kind of like magic if you were playing a traditional fantasy RPG. They can be bought from Netrunners and used through Breach Protocol. They can be used in many ways to your advantage manipulating both enemies and the environment. If you want to turn off a camera, detonate a grenade on a target’s belt, turn a turret on them, or simply make them forget you even exist…it can be done via quick hacks.
Suffice to say, playing on the PS4 Pro, there were gameplay bugs in the system of various nature. I have experienced a few crashes that sent me back to the PS4 home screen. Bugs within the game, for example at a pretty pivotable point my gun was not visible to me, therefore leaving me unable to defend against my attackers and ultimately resulting in death. Nothing a quick reload from autosave can’t fix though. Throw into the mix the occasional massive drop in frame rate which can mean the difference between life and death. There were others I could write an article on, but in my experience, I wouldn’t call them game-breaking. It isn’t the most ideal experience, but with a bit of patience, if you can look past the bugs, you are in for an amazing time.
When it is working, Cyberpunk 2077 is an absolute blast to play through. The gameplay is fast and frantic at times which can leave your heart in your mouth. Some of the set pieces are a credit to what the team was trying to achieve. The story is deep beyond deep, and the side jobs are just as enjoyable as the main event.
Graphics & Audio
Night City is one that shines whether it is day or night. If I wanted a Blade Runner video game, this is how I would expect it to look. Even in my playthrough the quote “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe” was aptly going round my head because at times I could not believe what I was seeing. The megacity is simply beautiful whether it be the squalid shantytowns on the river or the massive shady corporation skyscrapers that tower over them underneath a neon night sky. It is easy to see why Cyberpunk 2077 took so long to develop. I was in awe just driving around.
NPC’s however are a different story. For the large part, they look good, but not exceptional. Like the main characters you interact with within the game look good, the rest not so much.
There are more bugs in the system when it comes to graphics as well as gameplay. These are often more funny than anything though. People walking through cars and other solid objects abnormal texture load times and pop in. Random NPC’s standing with their arms out like they’re waiting to be frisked by a member of NCPD…or more aptly a cybersex doll.
As far as music goes, the radio stations in Sleeping Dogs and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City had been top of my list for a long time. But, listening to the radio in Night City is sneaking in to take that top spot. I myself as a Metal fan was ecstatic at the inclusion of Ritual FM which covers the likes of Black and Death Metal. But, recently I had got into Dark Synthwave music and Cyberpunk 2077 has me covered there too. Instrumental Club Beats, Latin Reggae, Jazz, there is something for everyone. And no matter what it is your listening to, it provides the perfect soundscape to the futuristic world you inhabit.
Going back to bugs, on occasion there were lines of dialogue that were crossing over each other which did make it a bit difficult to make out what was being said.
The main story I found to be surprisingly short for a CD Projekt Red game. You could probably clock it in about 30 or so hours. But there is so much to see and do, which you probably will do I think you could easily double or triple that playtime. There are plenty of easter eggs to go hunting for. If you know how to use the three seashells, great! and don’t forget to say hi to Hideo Kojima for me!
Does Cyberpunk 2077 have technical flaws? Yes, and you can use your own judgement for speculation on those reasons. Is Cyberpunk 2077 a bad game? As Johhny Silverhand would say…F*** no! What we have here is the skeleton of an amazing game shrouded in the epidermis of controversy. The story has so much depth and complexity, it is one of the best I have played in years. And the same goes for the game’s mechanics. Finding what combinations suit your style is worth putting your time into. Experimenting is a joy.
Also quite funny that the best gear is not always the best looking. I was running around wearing a pair of tidy whities, and an expensive shirt with a pink kevlar vest, biker boots, and what looked like a pod racer helmet from Star Wars. But, although I looked like the groom on the morning after a particularly eventful stag night, I was badass and almost untouchable.
If you can see through the bugs and persevere, there is an astounding game simmering underneath. But, as it is, it simply was not ready for a release on PS4. But with more hotfixes and patches on the way, I will be giving this another review in 12-18 months’ time so I can review the finished product.
So as it stands, it is with a heavy heart that I award Cyberpunk 2077 the Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.