OUR RATING 7.5/10
In this game, you will visit the future, more precisely, an alternative universe from the year 2077. By this time, humanity has surrendered to the power of technology, betting on technological advances to improve their lives, thanks to cybernetic implants and modifiers. However, despite substantial improvements, humanity has never abandoned its violent and predatory nature, making the Earth almost uninhabitable with the exception of its mega-cities. One is Night City, California. This huge city is full of great contrasts, where corporate powers exploit citizens and where there is a struggle for survival, in obvious technological slavery.
In the middle of this whirlwind, you are the protagonist. Its origin depends on three choices you make at the beginning. You are either a citizen of the streets, an outsider from the various villages around Night City, or a member of the corporate powers betrayed and made a rebel.
Whatever your choice, V will eventually reach the role of mercenary, living off the various blows and the best price to execute them. With his inseparable friend Jackie Welles, V ends up entering the sub-world of organized crime, getting to know the worst the city has to offer. And it is by accepting a slightly more complex job that things don’t go so well.
The mission seems linear, though somewhat complex. Infiltrate the ultra-secure tower of the mega-corporation Arasaka and steal a delicate chip, called Relic. Everything is frankly wrong in this highly elaborated plan, leading the pair to be at risk of life. In a bold and almost failed escape from the Tower, the suitcase carrying the Relic is damaged. With little time to decide, V is forced to take an extreme step: inject the stolen chip into his own cyber socket. And, as if there were no more possible twists, V ends up betrayed by his own contractor. Everything seems lost.
The foundations of Cyberpunk 2077 are those of a classic role-playing game with added different layers taken from genres such as first-person shooter, stealth and driving. It is easy to trace its influences in this regard as the structure of game systems and mechanics that make up the foundations of the game is exactly the same as that of Bethesda’s modern Fallouts or the recent The Outer Worlds.
The video game has combat and dialogue systems (offering different responses) based on statistics and numbers. Your weapons have damage, your character has statistics that allow you to increase that damage and even use special equipment and the alternative options to combat are unlocked too, thanks to your character’s statistics (making him able to intimidate, discover special secrets, hack some devices and more).
Very early in game, you are confronted with the reality that is hidden in this futuristic facade. Not only are V’s activities of suspicious origin, but this is a violent city, where several gangs and organizations challenge you at every corner and even the emergency medical units wield weapons. The Arasaka Corporation itself is not very satisfied with V, as you can imagine. Anyway, there are many dangers and risks here. There is even a recurring joke, in which in this city when someone dies of old age, he deserved to be decorated. Therefore, weapons are the main tool of survival.
You will have weapons of various types and tastes. Double-barreled shotguns, machine guns, assault or sniper rifles, pistols, among other firearms, all with added value and defects, being able to receive modifications, sights and suppressors. There are also close combat weapons, including swords, knives, clubs and other tools of violence. None is truly memorable, as you will receive too many over the course of the game and, in most cases, sell or dismantle several for parts. It also has grenades and some temporary heavy weapons and even remote controls. Shootings are frequent and vary in difficulty depending on the level and type of mission.
The game has a great incentive to use subterfuge, such as hacking systems or even the guards themselves to inhibit them, relying heavily on more stealthy action. In some sections, it is much better to bet on that. Not only are the first weapons very weak to do damage, but the exaggeration in the recoil and the imprecision seem to be too penalizing. You have to constantly craft ammunition because you might use too much and the cover system is not very effective. Also, Artificial Intelligence is either very accurate or incredibly apathetic, giving a somewhat inconsistent exchanges of shots.
All of this is a matter of taste, easily resolved with a few changes in the logic and balance. On the other hand, if you only bet on the shots and forget the “cyber” component, you may miss out on the purpose of the whole game. Hacking is also crude, relying on a logic of online sequences at a given time. But if you master this part, you will discover immense advantages in hacking enemies’ implants to distract or even eliminate them and also in deactivating alarm systems or the enemy’s own weapons.
Without going into gutting the plot of Cyberpunk 2077 (neither the main one nor the various optional plots linked to secondary characters), it is a video game that professes a love for the literature of the American Beat Generation. Regardless of the decisions you make, Cyberpunk 2077 approaches the Beat Generation through Johnny Silverhand (Keanu Reeves), the main character apart from your avatar and an antihero who embodies the values of this literary movement.
Defeated and marginalized by a militaristic and capitalist system, Silverhand maintains a constant belligerent attitude and with revolutionary touches, but always from individualism. And the game (and your protagonist) is soaked in it. Cyberpunk 2077 is, narratively, an undoubted expression of the individuality (partially uncritical) of the Beat Generation, of the fight against the impositions of the system from a marginal environment dominated by violence.
And precisely the most sadistic violence and completely explicit sex scenes are a recurring thing in Cyberpunk 2077. Partly to offer a relatively critical view of this capitalist dystopia (in which people literally and metaphorically dehumanize themselves to become mere machines that are treated as resources), and partly in an effort to demonstrate maturity.
PROs, CONs and OVERALL GAMING EXPERIENCE
If you played The Witcher series, also from CD Projekt RED, you already know that the Polish producer strives to build characters and give them meaningful stories and well-written and intricate outcomes. In fact, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is considered by many to be one of the best RPGs ever, just another reason why Cyberpunk 2077 has so many people looking forward to its arrival. In fact, both V and the other characters have very well-defined personalities and roles, full of narrative quality. The actors who lend their voices to the characters clearly contribute to this.
From start to finish, there is a sense of legitimacy for each decision, each posture, each line of dialogue. The characters are highly developed, obviously, depending on its importance in the plot, of course. There is only one character in particular that would have needed a better definition and that is Evelyn Parker (below), whose outcome in her story seems frankly hurried and uninspired.
Generally speaking, gameplay is typical of any action RPG. Unlike The Witcher, CDPR decided to put gameplay in the first person, a technical option that fits relatively well into the elements of hacking and combat. Stealth is fun and satisfying thanks to the good level design, which turns these silent forays into Dishonored – style puzzles. Hacking allows you to manage the environment to your liking and offers dozens of options when tackling each mission. The open world is vast, dense and complex, with much to do and secrets to discover around every corner.
Strolling through Night City, you will be dazzled by the design of this futuristic vision. You will definitely appreciate its size, social contrasts, technology and bright neon signs, probably on the way to some task, mission or message. Navigation through the vast city is done on foot (good luck with that), vehicles that you will be collecting or through the fast-travel network in the game. Night City is huge, not to mention the vast area that surrounds it, such as the Bad Lands deserts. The sense of dimension of this dense city, is complete with the verticality of its imposing buildings, some with an exploitable interior, without forgetting the various underground areas.
Several details of the gameplay are very commendable, with special emphasis on the mythical Braindance. These elaborate investigative sequences, could be described as a sort of “detective vision” of a futuristic Batman, serving to search through memories stored on chips. In the future, humans will be able to store their memories (and even their conscience) in “shards” that can then be reviewed, and they can even “leave” the bodies of the actors and study their surroundings as a “drone”. Unfortunately, you will not use this technology often.
However, there are other details that are not so easy to “digest”. It is incomprehensible that, with so many postponements, CD Projekt RED delivered a game so full of bugs, glitches and technical errors. Perhaps the most noticeable in game, and on a mechanical level is driving. While it is not particularly bad (it is well above other open world games like Watch Dogs), it is not at the level of the rest of the game systems. But the video game itself is aware of this lack and you are hardly required to drive, leaving it as a very secondary task and, in most cases, a simple way to go through Night City more quickly.
With so much interest in creating a visually stunning game, the optimization on the Sony console, even though it is not a PS5 native title (only in 2021), it is not brilliant. Note that there is a lot of potential in the visual care of this new version of RED Engine 4, especially in lighting, character modeling, animations and visual effects. But, unfortunately, nothing seems polished, there are sections where the lighting and effects simply fail. Many events where the animations failed, either in the synchronism of lips, in the detection of collisions or, in other circumstances, even with objects or characters floating in the air can also be noticed all throughout the game.
Vast majority are simply visual, including cars and characters that appear and disappear and some weapons that remain on the ground even after collecting them; all of this is annoying but irrelevant when playing games, so its importance is very relative. In addition, we must bear in mind that the game is a huge world so it is quite normal to run into some failures.
On the other hand, it should be noted that Cyberpunk 2077 makes a very special use of sound. While we walk through the city, all the soundtrack that we have is the noise and bustle of the city. The shots in the distance in an alley, the shouting of the market, the buzz of cars on the road or the hiss of a plane flying over the city. This is what accompanies us in Night City and that contrasts and adds value to those moments in which the soundtrack does come into play with superb quality. All this makes up an outstanding sound section.
It is difficult to judge if Cyberpunk 2077 fulfills the expectations and dreams of all these years, and to summarize it with a note. As we all know, the developers are still updating their game to make sure the players’ concerns are addressed. But for what we’ve seen so far, Cyberpunk 2077 more than delivers on its promise. It is not an innovative or revolutionary video game, but it is a work that takes advantage of an exorbitant budget to put the ultimate power fantasy on the table in a very round way. It is simply the union of several video game formulas that we already know – building on Fallout’s RPG structure, the game features DOOM- worthy gunplay, Metal Gear Solid V stealth, Watch Dogs hacks, Borderlands 3 loot, Assassin’s Creed open world, and GTA V showmanship. All this in a single package and adorned with some of the most spectacular visuals that players will come across so far.
Cyberpunk 2077 has all the right ingredients to be one of the best RPGs ever. It has a very rich lore, well embedded in a story full of details, outcomes and frankly interesting characters. Design is another obvious asset, giving us a utopian future that we really want to discover. However, technical problems prevent the game from shining, offering frustrating moments of technical failures that make no sense in a game with this ambition, size and investment. If there is a producer that manages to turn the problems around, it is CD Projekt RED. Even with all the confidence that the game will improve, if there are games that are victims of their own hype, this is a great example.
Maybe Cyberpunk 2077 is not a masterpiece as a whole (although the construction of Night City is simply incredible), but it will mark a before and after as video games like Skyrim and GTA V did, setting the standards of the video game AAA beyond and, perhaps being the first truly AAAA video game… but this is something that only time will tell.