Cyberpunk 2077 is the first attempt by Polish game developer CD Projekt Red (CDPR) to establish an intellectual property outside of The Witcher franchise. It has also been one of the most anticipated, and subsequently most controversial, video game releases of the past decade.
So much can be said of this game, and so much has already been said. Everyone from gaming publications like Kotaku and Polygon to mainstream giants like The New York Times and Forbes have discussed the quasi-unplayable state the game was in when it was released, with the fallout from the release seen in both the gaming community and the video game industry. This article will not cover the broader context of what Cyberpunk’s release says about the state of the glitches or gaming as a whole. It will instead cover the latter in a future article, and the glitches – while particularly egregious – will be resolved with patches. The focus of this article will be reviewing the basic story and gameplay of the game.
Cyberpunk 2077 is based on, and set in, the world of Cyberpunk, the tabletop roleplaying game originally published in 1988 by R. Talisorian Games. You play as V, either a corporate counterintelligence operative forced into a plot to assassinate her boss’s boss, a street gang member recently returned home after failing to succeed in another city, or the sole survivor of a tribe of nomads. These backgrounds cease to matter 20 minutes in. Regardless of which you choose, you will always end up as a low-level mercenary in Night City in search of fame and fortune. After a heist goes wrong, V finds themselves dying as the digital construct of a long-dead rebel, played by Keanu Reeves, slowly overwrites their mind. The rest of the game is spent desperately searching for a way to prevent this.
That is the main story. As stories go, it is serviceable. It has a solid three-act structure with multiple endings and is good for a solid 20-30 hours of gameplay. However, much like The Witcher, judging the game solely by its main story would be ignoring the vast majority of the game. There is a staggering amount of side missions, many of which could have served as main stories of their own with a little more fleshing out. It is incredibly easy to lose sight of the main plot and get immersed in the overall world – whether it’s tracking down a serial killer with a cattle fixation, or grappling with the nature of redemption in a quest that can culminate with V literally crucifying a death row inmate. This is both a major mark in the games favor and a mark against it. While the side content is fantastic for immersing yourself in the world, it takes away from the urgency the main plot seeks to establish. As for the gameplay, the gunplay is solid, while the melee combat leaves a fair amount to be desired. The driving mostly works, and it is immensely satisfying to speed through the streets at 137 miles per hour. When looked at solely by its merits, Cyberpunk is decent, but it fails to live up to the hype.
All in all, 3 out of 5.
Not the masterpiece we wanted, but solid enough.