It is complicated, very complicated to summarize the proposal of ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ developed by CD Projekt Red in a single article. The only thing we can assure you, after forty hours of play in which we have reached the heart of the main game but have not exploited it fully, is that we are going to be commenting on its amazing emerging narratives, its aesthetic findings and its overwhelming sensation. of freedom for weeks.
But first, the rigorous warning: this analysis reveals very general aspects of the plot that have already been told in the trailers shown by CD Projekt Red – such as the role of Keanu Reeves’ character -, but not any important plot twists. Mechanics and their application in the game are also discussed, all of them already revealed by the Polish studio.
But what’s up, V
The player embodies V, an adventurer in appearance and, as we will see, completely configurable abilities. Depending on the type of character chosen, they will have one past or another (Nomad – wild savages of the highway that move in the desert moors outside the city -, Busker – hackers and urban gang members – or Corpo – part of the corporations they control the city, used to moving between the upper classes-), and will have a specific introduction to their past. In our case, V was a hustler with a mohawk crest and more tattoos than was aesthetically tolerable .
At a certain point (its good handful of hours), the plot takes a certain turn and we enter a part that is already common for all the characters, with a less guided structure : lots of fixers (the contacts that will make you assignments, secondary missions almost always , although many of them will have a primary role in the plot), freedom to improve the character as you wish and a core plot, in which the character of Keanu Reeves, Johnny Silverhand participates.
As you may know, Silverhand is not a sidekick, but rather the modernized version of a classic character from the ‘Cyberpunk 2020’ paper and dice role-playing game . Its incarnation in 2077 is not real, but virtual: it is “downloaded” on a chip that V has in his head and that he cannot get rid of. This mythical terrorist from the Night City past brings the most suggestive and interesting elements to the plot: for those looking in ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ for something more than a ‘GTA‘ in the future, here you have it.
The disquisitions that the game elaborates from the idea that Silverhand coexists in V’s mind and, in fact, is growing in it with an inevitable future in sight in which he will take control of his consciousness, are pure cyberpunk . The limits of reality, technology as a door to transhumanism, memories and memory as configurable and downloadable material … here ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ finds an identity that distinguishes it from other science fiction games and other sandboxes : the connection between man and machine, reflections on the ghost that inhabits it. That is where the studio knows how to distinguish itself.
Configuration to the extreme
And that application of the ideas of cyberpunk (mainly, the literary one) about the connection between the electronic and the human that develops so well the central part of the game’s argument, can be applied in turn to the exhaustive mechanics that CD Projekt Red puts into the Cyberpunk 2077. scope of the player to set a V. We are not going to go into details because this review would be too long and you will find out for yourself.
But some examples: there are attributes in a traditional skill tree (body, reflexes, intelligence, technical ability and mettle), but also cyber-enhancements that are applied in predetermined slots and that improve abilities that cover combat, stealth or hacking, and They can be activated continuously or at will. There are aspects of this configuration so ingrained that in the time that we have played we have not gotten to explore in depth, such as the improvement of weapons through planes and that not only increase their power, but directly convert them into others, much more adapted to V.
What is really interesting is that from the first moment the player is encouraged to find his authentic way of facing the missions: the famous “you can finish the game without killing anyone” is actually testimony to the extraordinary design of the same, which allows that these are faced by brute force or with pure stealth , and of course, with all possible intermediate steps. The character progression mechanic supports this, and encourages everyone to build their own V.
There have been previous games that have worked in this line, such as ‘ Dishonored ‘ or ‘ Alpha Protocol ‘, but it is ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ that makes it more sophisticated to the extreme given the highly exhaustive skill tree, due to the inclusion of cyber modifications that add an extra layer of personalization. In that sense, other precedents of this mechanic, such as ‘System Shock 2’ or the first ‘Deus Ex’ were in this thematic line, but obviously, ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ is much more powerful and deep in this sense.
In fact, in games like the aforementioned ‘Dishonored’ the player is suggested to evolve towards action or stealth, but here is another way : hacks. Well used, improved enough, hacks that allow controlling enemies’ machines and cybernetic devices in multiple ways (confusion, knock out, win allies) bring strategies and possibilities to both stealth and brute force. That is, the possibilities are multiplied literally exponentially.
This leads to manageable quests with brilliant use of pop-up mechanics. And although, as always in these cases, what is affordable (and fun) is to face missions in which we combine stealth and brute force , the use of hacks opens up a range of possibilities that will force you to rethink the missions and use the best strategy. suits your V. Quite a find.
To close this quick review of the most interesting mechanics of the game, we must mention the neurodances, an absolutely new idea that seems stolen from one of the milestones of the most visionary cyberpunk cinema: ‘ Strange days ‘. These are recordings that replicate events from the perspective of a participant in that event … but which we can attend as third parties , manipulating time, space and different layers of information (audio, temperature …). They are puzzles of tremendous complexity and that, again, represent a perfect collision between medium and message.
Like the presence of Johnny Silverhand when creating environments and plots or the use of hacks and cyber-implants to multiply the possibilities of the game, neurodances are perfectly embedded in what is undoubtedly the great discovery of ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ : not having imagined a future world of great beauty and coherence, but rather that your tools to enter it are an organic part of it. That is, more cyberpunk, impossible.
An overwhelming city
The first sensation that assails the player when he enters ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ is that the game surpasses him. This is common in many of the more ambitious sandboxes, which often use gigantic maps and ridiculously excessive quest trees to give the feeling of a living, alien reality that breathes itself. Something like this happens in ‘Cyberpunk 2077’, but taken to the limit: in the CD Projekt Red game, beyond a short tutorial on basic controls of shootings, melee fights and hacks, nobody takes you by the hand.
From the outset, ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ throws the player a myriad of configuration and character evolution options and doesn’t bother to explain how to approach them. If there is something to be held against CD Projekt Red, it is this: if it is the first time the player has approached some RPG mechanics, he can be suffocated . Skill trees and experience points are now common currency in the genre, but ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ takes it to the extreme, as everything from weaponry to hacking skills can be configured, from cyber implants to aptitude for it. stealth.
Soon the intentions of CD Projekt Red become clear: to overwhelm the player with an excess of options, in clear parallel with the possibilities that fiction offers in Night City. This city of the future is an inhuman mass of cement and neon that crushes its inhabitants like insects, and the Polish studio also wants to suffocate the player with a huge amount of possibilities. This gives rise to a handful of disconcerting opening hours and in which the player comes to doubt the possibilities of being afloat in the face of so much freedom at his disposal.
A perfect example to understand this feeling, and which makes it clear that this is not exactly a problem or a virtue, but a clear position of CD Projekt Red when it comes to design : driving. We are far from the possibility of using vehicles in a practically arcade way of a ‘GTA’: driving in ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ has elements of simulation, each car has its own timing and handling – it is radically different to drive a small car than a sports car- and sometimes it is easier to drive while respecting -in broad strokes- the traffic rules than to jump into the act.
In the same way, stealing a car is not as easy as in other sandboxes : often the police will attack you with a firepower that other games of the genre do not use, where you can literally get in and out of all the cars of the city, all at your disposal. ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ puts that obstacle before the player’s nose and does not explain the why, which leads to some initial frustration , but it soon makes sense: navigating the city in a vehicle that costs sweat and blood to get and do it with caution allows enjoy more of the scenery and the amazing setting work.
For this reason, from the beginning the player can use fast transport points that allow him to cross the city quickly, so that difficulties with vehicles are not an insurmountable obstacle, although often to reach these points he has to cross streets and streets on foot. But that’s all part of the disturbing charm of Night City: you can’t fall in love with this city because it wants to kill you, and CD Projekt Red applies that same thing to the mechanics, and doesn’t let you take anything for granted. You will have to learn to survive, and that is not necessarily a simple process.
This simple detail is simply a sample of how the level of detail with which CD Projekt Red has designed its world borders on the sick in this Cyberpunk 2077: their intention is that you immerse yourself in a universe with a life of its own and that takes nothing for granted. There are hardly any clues or scripts, you will rarely come across paths lit too obviously (but beware, it’s hard to get stuck: the mission system is especially clear and generous, through messages on your mobile that enrich the dialogues in person). The general feeling is that the city lives outside of you.
That is the great discovery of ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ by CD Projekt Red: it has built a virtual environment through which you want to get lost. Its different artistic styles ( in the study they have baptized them as kitsch, entropism, neomilitarismo and neokitsch , and cover all social classes and types of buildings and constructions of Night City) give enough variety to the design of the city, and as in all big city, styles collide with each other, connecting and mutating with each other. If we have not advanced any further in the forty hours we have played, it is because we just wanted to dive slowly into this incredible future world.
Cyberpunk 2077: Our opinion
In these first steps through Night City we have run into some technical drawbacks: quite a few graphic bugs and a certain tendency for the game to hang more often than desirable. Hopefully these issues will be fixed with the important day one patch , and of course, that they won’t exist in the console versions. Our ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 has perfectly withstood the test and although we have not been able to play at the highest levels of graphic demand, it may have been above what the console versions will show.
Among the drawbacks in the game’s own development, beyond the fact that ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ assumes that the player is familiar with the RPG character improvement mechanics and that it will be agile enough to evolve without help. his strategies to tackle the missions, there is that mentioned intention of the title to suffocate the player with his size and ambition. It is not necessarily a problem, but it is an important barrier that must be clear that we are going to find ourselves , exactly as it happens, in other respects, with a roguelike or a ‘Souls’.
And yet it is precisely that overwhelming gigantism of the game that gives it an overwhelming personality: the visual work is extraordinary, with a city full of nuances and completely transformed in the cycles of night and day (surprisingly colorful under the light of the sun, influenced by Terry Gilliam’s ‘ Zero Theorem ‘). Wandering through its alleys and entering its stores is an authentic sensory waterfall, and the details (hundreds of advertisements, images, videos, costumes, people) generate a sense of verism that leaves recent sandboxes like ‘ Watch Dogs: Legion ‘ far behind. to mention a similar setting.
Without the need for exhibitionism or obviousness, ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ conveys a sense of total freedom in those dialogues that present lines that are only unlocked with certain levels of experience, or in the moments in which a conversation is presented that can clearly turn a corner. history. It’s details like that, or the feeling when raiding a building that it could be done just as effectively in six or seven different modes, bringing life to the game to the same extent as its excellent dialogue and clever handling of the topics.
With its massive visual design effort and overwhelming creative ingenuity of CD Projekt Red, ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ is immediately striking and captivating at first glance. But it is its mechanical design and how it perfectly understands what good cyberpunk fiction is and what are the keys to hit to reach it that guarantees it a place among the most immersive and replayable games of recent times.