What do Keanu Reeves, A$AP Rocky, and Porsche all have in common? The answer might not be immediately obvious to most but it’s their collective involvement with arguably the biggest release in gaming, period – Cyberpunk 2077. Polish developer CD Projekt Red has been hard at work cranking out project after project to critical acclaim, most notably recognised for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt back in 2015. Before this release thrust the developer and Witcher universe (inspired by the novels of the same name) into the limelight, however, a humble teaser trailer released in January of 2013 – included below – hinted at something grand in the works. Here’s the official BH Cyberpunk 2077 review.
Cyberpunk 2077 Review
Cyberpunk 2077 was promised to be an immersive and immense experience bringing the likes of Bladerunner to an interactive medium. CDPR was radio silent for some time, working away at the game for the better part of a decade all the while the hype was gradually snowballing. But this was only the beginning. In June 2018, we were presented with a first look at the game followed by the announcement of Keanu Reeves’ involvement the following year.
Shortly thereafter, artists like A$AP Rocky, Nina Kraviz, Grimes, and Run The Jewels had signed on for the soundtrack. Porsche and Reeves’ own Arch Motorcycles even had an influence on the vehicle design. Needless to say, Cyberpunk 2077 was steadily shaping up to be a cultural force. Will it fall victim to hype? Will it continue to propel video games dominance in a post-COVID world? And the question everyone is asking: is it any good and why should you play it?
If the sound of fast wheels designed by the likes of Porsche and Arch doesn’t grab your attention, then surely one of the biggest names in hip-hop and universal ambassador of good fashion sense A$AP Rocky might. Beyond that, the game itself is one of the most impressive demonstrations of technology cramming flexible mission design and expletive-filled swagger into the embodiment of the games’ frontman – Johnny Silverhand (portrayed by Reeves). Silverhand is integral to the story of Cyberpunk as you parade around Night City, making your way through both the corporate ladder and the streets to stick it to the Megacorps.
Upon booting up the game, the ambition of its developers is apparent through a slew of character customisation, allowing players to select everything from how bloodshot their eyes are to genitals and their size if they so choose. Following this, you are faced with a choice of your backstory. You can choose between Nomad, Street-kid, or Corpo – and this will have an impact on your dialogue and options later in the game. CDPR have gone the extra mile here and offer a unique intro for each of these that’s just shy of an hour-long eventually leading into the main plot. I won’t get into spoilers here but for those keeping up with Cyberpunk’s marketing, the initial few hours of the game will be familiar territory.
CDPR’s earlier title, The Witcher 3, was a masterful showing of writing and game design. Emotional and intricate quests were supported by an engaging narrative and stellar role-playing elements. This achievement spawned passionate and loyal fans for the Polish developer. In my hours played, Cyberpunk has an immersive world populated by interesting and varied characters… but it seems to lack the heart of earlier titles. While there are numerous bugs that remind us of the tiny upstart studio that once was, this is clearly a new iteration of CDPR operating on an entirely different level from the days of rendering Geralt of Rivia. There is so much to see and do yet the charm is often quite noticeably lacking.
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Ultimately, Cyberpunk ticks almost every box possible and by doing so, rarely carves out its own identity or niche. That’s not to say this is a bad experience, it’s sensory overload at its worst and an intoxicatingly hedonistic experience at its best. Despite this, the charm carried by The Witcher’s characters and the restraint shown in its game design allowed for a much more focused experience where you could influence – though not dictate – the terms.
To those of you who got this far in the Cyberpunk 2077 review, my impressions after sinking an excess of 60 hours may sound negative here, but it’s really to emphasise that this game is not The Witcher 3 and it’s not trying to be. It’s a much larger, freeing experience which provides the choices for almost anyone of any predilection to leave a lasting footprint in Night City. While it likely won’t have the emotional impact and attachment that The Witcher 3 had, it most certainly will also leave a lasting footprint in the gaming industry, popular culture, as well as everyone who has both the patience and pleasure to play it. Without pinning an exact number on it, from what I have played so far, Cyberpunk 2077 is an A$AP Rocky fashion sense out of ten, that is to say – it’s mostly Gucci.
Update – 10/12/20 (Launch):
Initially, this review covered general impressions suitable for those who did not wish to be subjected to important gameplay details which some would construe as spoiler territory. Now that the game is finally out in the wild, I can go into some further discussion on what to expect from the gameplay, narrative, and package as a whole.
As far as presentation is concerned, Cyberpunk 2077 is visually striking with one caveat: unless you have a beast rig, it just won’t run all that well. This game is meant to be played with a high crowd density and RTX (ray-tracing) on. Never before have we seen such extensive implementation of the game-changing lighting feature and it’s on spectacular display here. Unfortunately, if you want to run at these settings with comfortable 60fps, you’re going to be out of luck if you’re not packing the recently released and hard to come by 30-series NVIDIA GPUs.
Once you get the game running, it will become very apparent that the game is buggy. This is CDPR’s most ambitious game as far as the technology is concerned and this is all the more apparent as the list of bugs keeps piling on (some even seem to be legacy bugs from The Witcher 3). Though keep in mind I am basing my judgements on Cyberpunk 2077 from a review build, so it’s likely to change with every passing day.
Looking past the object clipping, vehicle desync, overlapping dialogue and audio, there is something special here. Nothing’s quite as entrancing as blasting down a freeway in a Mad Max-esque landscape outside of the city limits in a 100th Anniversary Porsche 911 with a group of pimped-out cyborgs in tow.
For those curious about the gameplay, it seems to be a mesh of two titles in particular – Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and GTA V. It borrows the non-linear sandbox elements from the former in an otherwise typical open-world structure, allowing players to negotiate missions and the world however they see fit. Your playthrough could consist entirely of non-lethal subterfuge or going in guns blazing reminiscent of Keanu’s better-known roles as John Wick or Neo.
The reliance of the games’ side quests to prop up an otherwise fairly vanilla story of revenge and corporate greed is what CDPR excels at here (just as they did with prior releases). If you are looking for a straight forward, balls-to-the-wall experience, then the game will take you roughly 20-30 hours to complete. If you take your time with it, however, 100+ hours later you will continue to be rewarded with mostly solid writing and compelling stories of individuals getting by in the city of the future.