Games

Cyberpunk 2077 (PC Review)

This review was done on a machine capable of running Cyberpunk 2077 on a high graphics preset. Without sounding that I am dismissing those with problems, lets get serious. What did more than half of you expect that are complaining how you can’t run it without serious issues? I knew going into it for years that you’d need quite the capable rig to experience it in its full glory. I was fortunate enough to experience that. I didn’t have a single game breaking bug. I experienced all there was to offer, and I lapped it up like the thirsty dog that I was. That is not to say that there aren’t bugs and glitches, of which there are. But to focus your entire displeasure of the game on that solely screams to me that you’re out to get them, to tank their review scores. To those that tried to play on PS4/Xbox one, the only blame you should lay is on CD Projekt Red’s investors and higher-ups. It is their fault and their money deals made with Sony/Microsoft that the game was even attempted to be released on those consoles. The game could have been so much more on the PC but the aforementioned dealings ruined that. All of that aside, here’s my view on the game.

Mild spoilers to follow.

Welcome to Night City

Night City, the home of our main character and that of Johnny Silverhand. A beautiful spectacle filled with grandeur, intrigue, mystery and the more than one occasional dead body. A place where all your dreams could come true, or come crashing down with a burning intensity. It is here where the journey begins, and it is here where it all ends. It is your playground, and it can become your tomb. You’ll never want to leave. In my time in Night City, I had accrued 88 hours playtime and in that time, I had finished every single side job, side gig, police scanner and all 6 endings of the game. The seventh ending, the secret ending, is a little bit of a nightmare to do because you have to make exactly the correct choices of dialogue during one mission and if you mess up, unless you have a save file ready, then you have to play the game anew.

I’m getting ahead of myself, let me familiarize everyone with the general gist of the game. You start off by picking your difficulty, your character’s gender (male or female), then you can customize your character to your heart’s content using their customization features such as the infamous dick size, then you move onto picking your lifepath. There are three of them, and each provides a slightly different beginning to the game. They are the Nomad, Streetkid, and Corpo. Nomad starts you off outside Night City in the Badlands, Streetkid starts you off inside a bar, and Corpo – well, I haven’t played that option. It is with these three options that replayability arises, because each gives you the ability to choose different dialogue choices within Night City which would reward you with slightly different lore or information. My main playthrough was with the Streetkid, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now I’ve read other reviewers thoughts on the game, and while they’re somewhat valid, I feel almost all of them missed the mark or the point. This game isn’t GTA, it isn’t Skyrim, it’s not Witcher 3, nor is it a game without heart and soul. This game is Deus Ex open world. Once you get that perspective into your head, everything seemingly clicks into place. The story is a little bit all too human, too comparable to reality. I’m not talking about the cybernetics or hacking in the game, I’m talking about the class division. The struggle between the haves and have-nots. Between the rich and the poor. Between the corporations and everyone else. And those that seek to bring change to the world, those that seek to tear down the walls between these, they are labeled as terrorists despite not bringing fear into the hearts of the populace but rather encouraging change and being looked upon as heroes – as legends. Johnny Silverhand, played by Keanu Reeves, is one such character, and he’s the man stuck inside your head. For better or worse. It is your character’s main goal, to figure out how to get him out while you’re slowly dying from him being trapped inside you. Two souls in one body. While also trying to be a legend in your own right, and name. Do you help the corporations, betraying your own principles? Or do you tear them down, and become a legend of Night City? Or do you decide that Night City is a soulless place that deserves no-one and leave it all in the dust? All of these are possibilities and it is up to you to decide.

Johnny Silverhand, played by Keanu Reeves, goading you on to do the side job.

The similarity to Witcher 3 is that you’re not roleplaying your own character, you’re roleplaying V, like Geralt, and while you have the say in what you do or speak, in the end, V is a character separate from you. Their goals and aspirations aren’t yours but you may influence them and change them. There are set goals in place and you can guide V to one of them. You can choose who V is as a fighter, and as a lover; male, female, or both, it’s up to you. The max level in the game is level 50, and along the way, you get to choose how to distribute your attributes. Each attribute can only go up to 20, and they will have an effect on choices you can make in the world. They’re divided between Body, Reflexes, Technical, Intelligence, and Cool. Within each of these attributes are skill trees which give bonuses to various skills such as shooting a revolver vs a shotgun, or wielding a blade vs a blunt weapon. You gain 1 attribute point and 1 perk point each level plus each of the subcategories, which also go up to 20, can give you perk points. These perk points are spent in the subcategories, the skill trees, and there can be a respec for 100k eddies. Eddies are eurodollars, the main form of currency in the game.

The game can be a little daunting at first, due to the many subsystems and menus and inventory screens but these are quickly learned with the help of the tutorials during the beginning portion of the game. Some things, such as crafting, need points invested in the technical attribute and subcategory crafting itself to be leveled up to unlock better equipment. During my adventure, I found crafting to be the single most useful ability and that the technical attribute to be the most useful for dialogue or entering places. There is another component to the game, and that is the cybernetics or cyberplants as they’re called. You can visit cyber doctors known as Ripperdocs in game, to acquire and install any new ones you want. The various ones that are available are all dependent upon the attributes you may or may not possess. The most handy implant that doesn’t require any attributes and will drastically open up exploration for you, is the double jump located in the legs category. Verticality is everywhere, and the sheer places you can visit and explore and get to once you get this upgrade are vast.

V sitting atop a floating vehicle, reached by double jump and the verticality of buildings

The quests in Cyberpunk 2077 are little bit different than conventional quests you might find in a RPG. The main quest is indeed a little bit short but that’s because the game wants you to do the side jobs or side quests as they’re normally called. These aren’t filler and are rewarding, both in terms of in-game experience and currency but also emotionally. You can pursue a relationship with certain characters, and you can have sexual relations with them, but not to the extent that you might have thought. You are rewarded with a sex scene but it’s not as explicit as you might expect. It’s more on par with a scene from the Mass Effect series. Completing these side jobs also fills in the story some more and does have an impact on the ending portion of the game. The things that are filler are the police scanner gigs which have you clearing out criminals and retrieving material goods. Each of these does come with a data shard which when read, provides some small lore. The side gigs that you find serve to help create world-building and as well, some data shards with lore. They’re often simple but serve as a fun distraction from everything. The map is littered with these. I finished all I could find before I even began the main quest during Act 1, as I enjoyed being in the world and exploring it. To get around, there are vehicles and I hear the complaints that driving is bad but it’s honestly not. Drive in first person and it’s quite fun; sure, V could sit a little higher in the seat, but that wasn’t really a problem. It took a little getting used to but soon I was like a professional race car driver flying down the streets, weaving between traffic. The speed is in miles, and that might affect some who aren’t used to it.

River Ward, possible romance option. Female V describing things men have said to her.
Judy, a possible romance option.

The references in Cyberpunk 2077 are incredibly vast and like the photo above, sometimes a little too on the nose. V is wearing a headset called a braindance device, that allows a wearer to experience the feelings and emotions of someone who recorded a so-called braindance. If you recall the movie Strange Days, it’s heavily influenced from that. Even one of the side quests is eerily similar to the movie’s plot. There are also Matrix references, Mad Max, Batman and all sorts of popular fiction. Each of the side jobs’ titles are song lyrics or titles.

A Death Stranding reference

The graphics of the game are absolutely astonishing and I’m often held in awe. I’d often just stop and gaze at the beauty that is found in the extremely detailed world. It is clear why the base consoles simply cannot run this game. The amount of detail in even one building is far more than in any other game. The way that the rain falls and creates puddles, the little splashes of the drops, the reflection of lights in the puddles and of buildings. How the condensed fog from exhausts forms, how the city’s neon lights transform at night. There is just so much to experience. And then the soundtrack on top of everything is just the cherry on top. I often found myself just listening to the entire menu song before actually loading into the game. In-game, different missions had different songs and sometimes I’d not be doing the objective because I’m just vibing to the music. And that’s not even compared to some of the songs that are found in the in-game radio. Some of these are absolute bangers.

Another example of verticality

Some of the faults I do have with the game are the propaganda to be found or heard, which is to be expected. The following two images are just one example, but there are numerous ones to also be found. Even Johnny’s constant critiques of corporations are but one form of propaganda. It’s hard to make a futuristic world without doing so. Other faults I find are that some guns and weapons are simply far too strong, and once acquiring them, you’ll have little want for anything else.

Exhibit A of propaganda
Exhibit B of propaganda

To surmise, I absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed every single waking minute I had of playing this game. I went into it expecting Deus Ex meets an open world and I got exactly that. I got to experience pain, heartache, happiness and joy, sadness, desolation, loss of hope, and the possibility of something more. I experienced a rich and fully realized world. And most of all, I had nothing but fun for 88 straight hours. Not many games can make such a claim or deliver such an experience. That’s all for now until the next time, when the expansions are all released; good night and good luck Night City.

The City that provided hours of fun.

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