reviewed Cyberpunk 2077
Turns out when this game has actually had time to have most of the most egregious bugs & glitches ironed out (though parts of it were still graphically wonky, I never encountered any serious bugs)...it’s a pretty good game! There’s way, way too much I could say so I’ll keep this down to kind of long but not an entire essay.
Obviously all the launch stuff was warranted, since a AAA game with this kind of budget damn well better turn out at least “very good”, but yes: it is an impressive epic of the genre the tabletop originally coined; it’s an incredibly deep & complicated layering of systems (kind of, I can try to get into more detail of how it felt to a non-industry person like me but I’m not sure how well I can articulate it) and an impressive showcase of world building & character writing. However, if I had to boil my thoughts down to as simple as I possibly can: this is a game I enjoyed way more for the gameplay & exploratory freedom than anything that was written or scripted. To try to narrow it down even more: I had way more fun in this when I was given freedom to dick around & do things my way, and got kind of deflated during anything narrative-based or scripted.
I’ll start with gameplay, i.e. the main aspect I enjoyed. I’m not entirely sure I can pinpoint why, but I really loved the way this game approached creating a character build & playstyle. I ended up pushing myself into a very Quickhack focused build, leveling to the point where I essentially had “look at someone and press the kill button” abilities. While I usually took a pseudo-stealth approach to missions by hack-sniping enemies til it was all cleared out, I had equal fun using the double-jump mod with a shotgun; bouncing around while also lobbing dozens of grenades at lightning speed. I never did stealth, never did melee, never did cybermod combat & I still had a ton of fun in every combat situation. This shows how not only does the game have a fluid & challenging combat system (it always felt like both me & enemies had about 3-4 hits before going down, meaning that planning was involved to keep fights going longer but it never got too spongey), but there’s a huge amount of avenues to take for replay value and so many fun build options.
In kind of a middle-ground issue I come to just the content amount and some balancing issues. While it’s clear the combat got a lot of attention as well as the visuals & music (very short version: the game looks and sounds as amazing as a AAA game should, the art direction is on-point as it should be where even though it feels too cluttered for me at points, that is the style and vibe the creators were going for and it helps portray a lot of the themes of the game), some other content was either not figured out as well or mis-scaled quality-wise. I will say this probably has the best radiant quests in any big game I’ve seen, namely that they’ll just appear on the map as you pass by without interrupting game flow, they’re easily avoidable if you want and can usually gain you decent rewards. On the flip side to that is pretty much everything involving vehicles or “purchasing quests”. The vehicles feel the most broken of anything in the game; still wildly swinging around with turns & flipping/bouncing at a moments notice. I also found it odd how the game constantly pushes new apartments or vehicles on the player, as there’s pretty much no material incentive to getting them other than a sense of completion (you get Jackie’s bike like immediately as well as lots of other cars throughout, but since bikes handle the best out of everything & I can access the stash from a bike why would I use anything else?).
The writing is an extremely mixed bag for me as well. Like almost every big RPG, the side quest writing is way more interesting & clever than anything that happens in the main game, though I feel in Cyberpunk compared to something like Fallout there’s even way less interesting side content. It does seem like there was more of an effort to make side jobs & even gigs tie into the main questline moreso than some other RPG’s, but aside from a handful of interesting questlines (Brendan’s quest especially, the political brainwashing stuff, the Jesus braindance) even this side content feels like fairly standard “GTA-but-in-the-future” content. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the other classic of modern open world RPG’s: the endless text documents! Since I wasn’t totally engaged with the world and the writing style (as well as just being a guy in general who doesn’t read text docs; audio logs are easier for me to digest but even still it’s harder to get engrossed in), I did feel like I was just missing out on so much to make the world feel as full.
In terms of the main story…I just wasn’t that invested. The writing does a great job impressing on how important the situation is to so many characters, and while it’s conveyed well it never reached me on a deeper level. The closest I got was the very intimate moment with the doll you meet at Clouds, one of the few times the overly scripted nature of the game worked to its advantage. That heavy scripting element otherwise consistently irked me: so many cases of you having to slowly walk behind someone as they go to an area I assume for loading or “immersion's sake” but it totally killed the pace for me. Lastly on the story front, I’m not totally sure they handled V or Johnny SIlverhand super well. V falls into the weird category of an RPG lead who isn’t completely a blank slate and has a personality, but isn’t so defined that I felt more like an interactive story. A lot of my issues for both of them fall into the fact that no matter how story developed, I didn’t really like either of them: V is a little too simplistic of like a gang member who “wants to make it big time” and Johnny, no matter how much the narrative shows him to be a bad person with questionable goals still wants to peripherally show how it’s the most awesomeist guy ever Keanu Reeves who fucks and drinks and plays rock and fights “the man”, which only came off as laughable.
So, despite that long ramble about some of my gripes, I still think the game will go down as a beloved classic with a ton of influence. It builds off a lot of open world game RPG conventions in a way that is mechanically really satisfying while maybe not gripping me in a story sense. While I think I’d need a lot of time away from it to start a new game (or 100% my old one), I think I still look on it really positively and I’m glad that (even though things should work on day 1!!!!!) it’s at the state it was envisioned as.
Reviewed on Feb 05, 2023