As the kind of person who often tries to avoid pre-release chatter and opinion for video games, Cyberpunk 2077 was something of an anomaly: it quite simply demanded attention throughout its outstanding marketing campaign. But, for the exact reason I try to dodge previews and reviews ahead of actually playing something myself – getting to experience the video game without preconception or bias – Cyberpunk pulled out Johnny Silverhand’s Malorian Arms 3516 pistol and shot themselves in the foot.
Actually, scratch that: they misfired and managed to blast off their entire damn leg…
As unquestionably one of the most talked about games of 2020, Cyberpunk 2077 set the bar and gamers’ expectations so unspeakably high that – let’s be honest – it was never going to be able to live up to its own mania. Peerless in its ambition to create a living, breathing city of the future, whilst also promising to deliver an effectively limitless gaming experience, the hype train arrived at Night City’s station at breakneck speeds only to derail itself under its own momentum.
As within the real world, a train wreck of this magnitude had the internet ablaze with criticism, cruelty and conjecture – suddenly, whether they’d witnessed the catastrophe first-hand or not, every gonk and his mother began chiming in about how broken and unfinished CD Projekt Red’s early Christmas present was. Before we knew it, these voices became so loud and widespread that it was earnestly difficult to filter out the commotion and find a fair, level-headed critique of this ambitious role-playing adventure.
But we’re not here today to talk about the game’s downfalls or the awful conditions and circumstances under which these talented developers had to toil – everything that can be said about those factors has been said already. But instead, I want to speak to why Cyberpunk 2077 is – and always was – worth your time, and why it’s time to give it a second chance.
Based on the widely popular tabletop roleplaying game of the same name, Cyberpunk 2077 had quite the mountain to climb already: anyone with even a dice roll of experience in tabletop gaming will tell you just how enormous these games are in terms of lore and scope. And yet, this digital reimagining of Night City with its many factions and districts does an exceptional job of recreating the sheer immensity of the world and individuality of each gang. Irrespective of the platform you play it on – and this is coming from a guy who netran the whole thing on PS4 – the city really is alive and creates a sense of hustle and bustle you’d expect from such a megalopolis.
And it’s here, within the game’s immersive environment and stories, that we find the heart of what makes Cyberpunk such a worthwhile experience. More akin to your Fallouts and Elder Scrolls, the game relies on your imagination and investment in the goings-on within the game’s world rather than holding your hand and leading you through a complete story. The game does allow you to tank through the main storyline with little deviation if that’s your preference, but the soul of Cyberpunk lies in the little things that, collectively, paint a vivid portrait of a terrific – and often traumatic – future. It marketed itself as a game for the masses – a GTA set in the distant future – when really, this is a role-player’s sandbox that is best enjoyed when given due time and attention.
For some, the game’s infamous glitches and missteps may break this immersion too much, but for those willing to overlook the odd oddities to admire the much bigger, greater, grander picture, there really is something remarkable to behold here. I found myself lost in characters’ dialogue and backstories, waging all-out war after clashing with a gang’s ideals and really lapping up the sincerely unique roleplaying possibilities only Cyberpunk offers – and that’s before I even sunk my teeth into the main narrative.
Upon completion, my group of friends – my chooms! – discussed our experiences. Much to our delight, we had all taken wildly different approaches and ended up with completely distinct endings – and that was just from playing one of the three possible life paths the game offers. Yes, our experiences had been marred somewhat by the thick fog that accompanied the game’s initial release – a feeling I’m certain that affected many – but we had a lot of fun even then, which bodes well now the game has had a truly extensive series of tweaks and updates 6 months on.
Of course, I won’t pretend Cyberpunk 2077 was or is perfect, but then, very few games with the same scope, ambition and depth are. This was a game and a world built from the ground up without prequels to learn or assemble from; just taking an objective look at any facet of the game really does showcase such sincere dedication and artistry from those that brought this behemoth to life. It was a cruel fate that befell the game’s release but, now that much of that smog has cleared, it is time to forgive V, Johnny and the rest of Night City’s denizens and bask in this quietly preem release that so many have slept on.
As Silverhand himself says:
“Give yourself time. Ideas'll come. Life'll shake you, roll you, maybe embrace you. The music'll find you.”
For more impassioned video game lovin’, check out more of Glitchqraft’s content right here – we hear he’s just like Keanu, only without the good looks, great hair, fantastic talent and timeless skin care regime…
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