Cyberpunk 2077 Review

December 15, 2020

Cyberpunk 2077 is an RPG developed by CD Projekt Red. This game is also the highly anticipated follow-up to the company’s hugely successful 2015 game The Witcher III. As you can imagine, the buzz around Cyberpunk 2077 has been strong, and players have been eagerly awaiting its release for years. 

With so much hype surrounding this game, has it lived up to the expectations of players? Or has something else given this title a tinge of infamy already?

The obvious issues of Cyberpunk 2077

To be blunt, Cyberpunk 2077 released as a buggy mess. These issues exist primarily on current generation consoles, but each version of the game has flaws. Playing on a base PlayStation 4, I experienced no less than six crashes, countless graphical bugs, and some issues with controlling my character. However, it should be noted that the 1.04 patch released for Cyberpunk 2077 has improved the experience significantly. 

That being said, the game is still highly unpolished and messy. While I have never been one to let a buggy game disappoint me, I can absolutely understand and expect others to be upset with the state of the game. For that reason alone, I have a hard time recommending Cyberpunk 2077 in the state that it launched in. 

However, I can say that I did enjoy my time in Night City. As someone who grew up playing bug-riddled RPGs, such as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3, I felt right at home. Naturally, that isn’t a praise for this game, as it should never have released like this. Although, I will say that I can imagine some hardcore Bethesda RPG fans having a great time with this game in the years to come. 

The spirit of Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk is not simply the name of a franchise. It is primarily a genre that is identified via specific world elements. In this genre you will find dystopian futures, as well as overpowered corporations with unnerving depictions of poverty to contrast them. These themes are typically complemented by dreams of futuristic technology and rebellious attitudes toward authority. 

Unsurprisingly, you’ll find all of this within the setting and story of Cyberpunk 2077. Oddly enough, though, I can’t shake the feeling that it has all been done better in other examples of the genre. Cyberpunk 2077 has a lot of stiff competition in this regard, but I expected it to at least rank somewhere near the top.

The Cyberpunk elements of the game seem to be whispered over the course of the adventure. You can clearly see them in the aesthetic of Night City. However, the game seems to be more interested in pushing dated humor and edgy “coolness” that seems pretty strange to find in a 2020 release. It’s as if in an attempt to be super mature and shocking to players, the game has given itself a distinct stench of immaturity.

For example, conversations occasionally allow the player to use skill checks when speaking to other characters. One conversation allowed me to use the “Cool” skill that I had built up. Of course I wanted to say something cool, so I chose this dialogue option. The resulting line that was apparently “cool” was a really lame joke about suicide prevention hotlines. At least when Grand Theft Auto does it, it seems like clear satire. 

The road to living legend

Cyberpunk 2077 places players into the cybernetically enhanced body of V. This character will be customized by the player at the start of the game. During this process, players will choose one of three backgrounds for their version of V. The three options are Nomad, Streetkid, and Corpo. Which background you choose seems to have little effect on the game, overall. 

Your background choice will change how the game opens. These 20 minute sections are extremely light on the gameplay and not really all that fascinating in terms of story, either. However, players will be given certain chances to use their background in conversations throughout the game. While it isn’t much, it’s at least something. However, I do wish that they had expanded on these backgrounds significantly, as I was super disappointed to see how shallow the choice actually is.

Hanging with Mr. Wholesome

Following these three introductions, the game narrows into a set story path. This story sees V partake in a high-risk heist on one of the world’s most dangerous corporations. As with all heists, things quickly go awry and the main character is infected by a very specific virus. Said virus leaves V with the personality of Johnny Silverhand trapped within his mind. 

Silverhand is portrayed by none other than Keanu Reeves, and honestly he does a great job with it. I’m not even a huge fan of the actor, but I really enjoyed seeing Johnny pop up whenever he did. However, the main driving point of the story is to see V rid themselves of Silverhand’s personality.

This places Johnny into something of an antagonistic role, even if it’s enjoyable to have him around. Over the course of the story, the player will dive into the secrets of Johnny’s past, learn how he became a cyber-spirit haunting the player, and meet many interesting characters along the way. All in all, it’s a pretty good story that kept me entertained throughout.

Cyberpunk 2077 as a game

I’ve spoken a lot on the story and spirit of this game. While all of that is fine, I have to say that I had the most fun by simply playing around in Night City.

For the sake of honesty, I will say that I did not enjoy the first few hours of the game. It felt clunky, unresponsive, and simply not fun. It was only when I began to learn how to play that things began to click into place. Perhaps this was my own fault for not paying closer attention to the systems offered to me, or maybe it was an issue with how the game presents itself to new players. Either way, though, there are some great elements to be found here.

Cyberpunk 2077 is an RPG, meaning that players will have a few choices when building their characters. The options aren’t incredibly deep, but they’re passable enough to do a few neat character builds. 

A few ways to play

I would say my favorite build was a hacking expert who was great at stealth. This character also had cybernetic leg enhancements, meaning that I could run across rooftops, leaping from building to building while searching for crimes. Once found, I would sit atop my rooftop perch and hack the criminals from afar, allowing me to pacify them without ever being seen. This gave me the feeling of being some sort of cyborg superhero in a city littered with crime. 

Another build that I enjoyed was a classic brawler build. I gave my character some awesome “gorilla arms” as an implant and pumped tons of points into making her a tank. Then I’d just run into danger without care and begin beating people down like it was nothing. 

The point is that there are definitely some great opportunities here and that the game gives you plenty of chances to play around with them. 

A shallow city

As fun as the game is to play when you understand it, the same can’t be said about Night City, itself. The settings look cool, there’s no doubt about that. However, it all just seems so dead and lifeless. Sure, there are tons of people and cars around, but none of them really do anything of note. 

None of the other Night City citizens really pay attention to V. That is, unless they want to fight, of course. In a city filled with shops, stands, and NPCs, you aren’t able to interact with 90% of them. There aren’t many actual vendors, there are no side activities aside from secondary quests, and there are only a few ways to interact with the city, if any at all. 

For instance, I took the aforementioned gorilla arms out for a test run and punched the side of a car with all the might the character could muster. Not a single NPC even looked at the incident, including the poor character inside the car. It felt really bizarre and somewhat immersion breaking. 

These AI issues also pour over into combat. Enemy AI doesn’t seem to be as clever as it could be. They just sort of take cover and wait to be dealt with while taking shots at you. 

Final verdict

Cyberpunk 2077 is a pretty good game. It definitely will not be adored unanimously, but more than likely by a core fanbase that simply enjoys the world. The gameplay is fun, but tailored to a specific type of RPG player. Both the main plot and substories are really interesting. Although, the world feels soulless and I took issue with some of the choices made regarding the humor and edginess of the game.

This is definitely a game that should have been delayed a few months. Of course, the game will probably be wonderful to play after a few updates roll out. However, the way that the release was handled is a bit jarring and disappointing.

All in all, Cyberpunk 2077 is not the greatest game ever made, nor is it the worst. It’s simply a good action game that may be a real diamond at some point.

Cyberpunk 2077 is available now on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia.

Category: Reviews

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Developer:
CD Projekt Red
Publisher:
CD Projekt
Genres:
Release:
September 17, 2020

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