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Cyberpunk 2077 review
by Deakon Black

This review is spoiler free.

The reason why you should take your time and wait for this game to be properly patched, is that Cyberpunk 2077 has a lot of potential for the future to stand in the same line with the best open-world games in this industry. For now it's an unfinished product that gained success as a money making machine but it failed in delivering a polished work that would meet the expectations with the hype surrounding it. Lack of marketing deliberation and overgrowth of ambition are just the top of the iceberg that I won't explore over here. Instead, I will concentrate on the gameplay-only aspects.

Main character of the Cyberpunk 2077 is V - a street mercenary who desires to earn reputation and become a legend of Night City. Despite of already having certain personality (that we can't change or modify) developers didn't wanted to give us a character made from A to Z; instead they gave us an opportunity to choose V's background, attributes and appearance. It resembles very much creating Shepard in Mass Effect series. Chosing a background (corpo, nomad or street kid) will reflect on your prologue mission, it will affect few dialogues just a little bit and give you other type of clothes for the beginning but it won't make a big change on your overall gameplay; after the first unique mission for each class (which lasts maximum 25 minutes) all three lifepaths will continue the same story. Defining V's background is more about picking an identity that will suit your role-playing style the most, but nothing beyond that. After chosing your class, you get to dispatch 7 points for your attributes: body, intelligence, reflexes, technical abilities and cool. Each attribute is divided to few subcategories where we can pick specific skills at the cost of perk points that we get through three possible ways: leveling up, skill progression or through finding perk shards in the game world. The skill tree should be more lucid in my opinion, but once we will start to get any ideas in which direction we want to build our character it should make more sense. There are few interesting options: melee based sneaking character (cool + body), direct approach riflemen (reflex), hackers desintegrating enemies from safe distance (intelligence), engineers who craft powerful items and lockpick all the doors (technical) and other mixed variations between them that you can make to your liking. Be careful though: it won't be possibile to master all the skills in the game, and the maximum level of progression that you can reach is 50, so you should be concentrated on what kind of build you want to make. After deciding which attributes are the most important for your V, you will start working on the visual aspect of your character. We get enough of tools to create something original, yet not so much as most of us would expect. The promise of changing the size of V's penis could stimulate imagination of some people, but when it comes to body creation, Saints Row 2 from 2008 was way more complex on that matter. You shouldn't expect much but just enough. You can choose a voice (one for a male and one for a female), one out of 39 haircuts, beard type, skin type and its tone, eyes and eyebrows, nose, mouth, jaw, ears, visual cyberwares, piercing, tattoos, scars, make-up, teeth, nails, nipples etc. It seems like a pretty good base for making something original, yet you still can't change things like age (V is always 28 years old), body type (fat or muscular) and variety of tattoos or piercings is pretty low. You won't see V's face too often during your gameplay anyway; it's always FPP with no third person perspective available like in new Fallouts, which means that the only chance to see V's appearance will be by approaching to the mirror (which has to be turned on because there is no mirror reflections in the game), by using photo mode or by watching the ending cutscenes. If you don't want to spend too much time in character creator or you can't make anything interesting by yourself, you can always hit random button; it's pretty messy, since the creation algorythm randomizes every customizable part of your characters body and face, but after removing piercing, make ups, tattoos and scars you should get some cool results after few moments of trying. Watch out: once you confirm your V's appearance, you can't change any part of it in the game - there's no tattoo parlours, no barbers, no pedicures or manicures to be made. It's a missing feature that should be updated in the future, but for now it isn't, so make sure that your male nomad V doesn't have pink nails or crazy tattoos on his body or you will continue with it until the very end of the game.

The introduction to Night City - the main area of Cyberpunk 2077 - starts with a prologue unique for each one of the classes. In my opinion, the way that the game world was presented to us in a such story-focused game could have been done better; the introductions usually are the best moments to create element of surprise, to shock or either to take a slow-paced approach to build a tension that arouses curiosity. Entering to Night City should be a BIG thing, especially for nomads who start their journey at the desert environement of Badlands, yet things escalates so quickly that it seems like no one really has paid too much attention to importance of such introduction. You can feel that there is a significant part of script that's missing, and it's a pity, because the prologue mission of street kid was so well directed that with a little more time of work it could easily fill the emptiness I felt at the start. I think that the problem lays in the cutscene that you can watch after first 25 minutes of gameplay which presents V doing all kinds of stuff that YOU should be allowed to do: hanging out, making contacts and meeting people, getting things done, earning rep. Instead, the storyline skips all of this and suddenly it takes us forward in time 6 months later to Japantown, where you will have a messy task to do. That is the moment where things are starting to get bizzare - and a player still has absolutely no idea about it. The prologue presents to us gameplay mechanics that don't exist after reaching to act 2. Few examples. Our first mission in Japantown is the only place where we will find a breakable wall - the game will allow you later to shoot through obstacles with power weapons, but no object in the game can be truly destroyed in the same manner. It is also one of the very few moments in the game when we will have a possibility of participating in a drive-by shooting from a passenger seat, which is nothing more than a scripted shooting-on-rails part of the mission, despite from what the tutorial hint of "vehicle combat" appearing on the screen is trying to tell us; it's not a tool that we will be allowed to use later in the game. Also, our first visit to the ripperdoc will show us few animations of installing implants, but during your future visits there you will see nothing more than a shopping cart on your screen. But out of all these things, the most important matter of prologue exceptionality is that it appears to be the only part of the whole story where dialogues really seem to have an effect on the final course of action; you will realize that during your first big assignment from a fixer and your first mission with Maelstrom that there are multiple ways of solving a questline. It's not only one of the best missions in the entire game but it's also one with the biggest variety of outcomes depending from our actions. That's right - the most complex quest in the game appears in the prologue, which means that as the story will progress there won't be more missions alike! Gameplay exceptions like this creates a problem: it hypes you for a specific kind of experience that you expect to see when Cyberpunk's open world will be finally available to discover, but when you will reach act 2 and complete few missions here and there you will feel that something is missing. After putting some thought into it I realized that the reason why prologue presented all these unique mechanics was not just for the idea of introducing the world of Cyberpunk 2077 to the players, but most importantly for marketing reasons. The events from act 1 were presented by CD Project RED in their famous 48 minute gameplay reveal. Of course, as usual, the trailers are supposed to show what's the best to attract the attention of consumers and build a hype - and that is exactly why such materials should be approached with caution as they are overestimating the actual condition of the game - but I think that at this point we are touching the subject of false marketing or - to be more polite - a lack of deliberation. I can't recall any other game in the history that would have more agressive marketing than Cyberpunk 2077.

Finishing the prologue starts the act 2 which will present to us completely open world of Cyberpunk 2077 - the Night City and the Badlands. With the world at our feet, we can go out and explore it - and it takes some time until we start to get a hang of its topography. The game world is pretty big and it easily stands in the same line with the biggest sandbox AAA games such as Red Dead Redemption, Skyrim or Fallout New Vegas. It delivers one of the most detailed open worlds known in the game history, and the developers have done tremendous amount of work when it comes to building a distinctive for the genre atmosphere through Night City's complexity. I haven't been that amazed by gargantuanness of a cyberpunk megacity since seeing Hengsha from Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the first time in 2011. I think that CD Project Red deserved great words of appreciation for showing us a future dystopian metropolis not through dark, rainy and other sci-fi well-worn visual patterns with "the sky [...] that was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel" but through a rich palette of colors emanating from the lights, neons, megascreens and holograms elevating above the city. Its districts differs from each other on the levels of architecture, social classes, fashion, quality of technology and cars driving through their areas. The game world designers were basing their work on few art styles such as kitsch, neo-kitsch, entropism and neo-militarism. You can adapt to the flow by establishing your own fashion style, or you can just travel on the streets of Night City and enjoy the variety of different areas: Cherry Blossom Market in Japantown with it's asian restaurants and gaming parlors; industrial part of Watson filled with Maelstrom gang members who seem to exercise Franz Rottensteiner's rule of high-tech and low-life with their cybernetically upgraded to the limit bodies; area of City Center serving as headquarters of corporations with its skyscrapers and splendor; the wastelands of Badlands surrounded by nomads driving in their Mad Max inspired vehicles. Even the view of the junkyard - and the size of it - near Santo Domingo can be astonishing. The attention to details in all of these locations is praiseworthy. We can't enter to all buildings in Night City, but when we do, we will realize that it's hard to find two look-alike locations, which is a common problem in games with open world. It is not perfect though - I admire the magnificence of the in-game world, but it has a strange and uneasy feeling of emptiness arriving from time to time. The reason of it lies in few things. One of those that I really hated was that sometimes the game engine was incapable of rendering crowds on the streets and in effect the city looked literally empty! Restarting the game usually was solving the problem but - unfortunately - not always. Some districts are just vacant and while for some areas it might be justified because of the high rates of crime activity (like Pacifica), this aspect just seems to be underdeveloped. The other reason behind the sense of emptiness of the Night City is... Radio stations. I know that it might be hard to believe - as the soundtrack in this game is amazing - but radio stations are in 99% just music. Sounds even more crazy? Then listen to no matter any radio stations from Grand Theft Autos and then check out any radio from Cyberpunk 2077. The difference is huge: in GTA - just like in the real world - the speakers talking all kinds of stuff, interrupting music with annoucing name of the track actually playing, agressive noises of product placement, commercials, news - it all makes driving through the city way more interesting and simultaneously it brings life to the streets. This aspect of the game, if properly done, could change very much in the overall experience of exploration. I really wish that radio stations could be done with the same pietism as in Grand Theft Auto series. I think that in creating open worlds like this CD Project Red could learn a lot from Rockstar Games and radio stations is definitely one of the aspects that the Reds should work on in the future. Apart from those that I already mentioned, there are few more ways of reducing the sense of emptiness; exploration of the city and the desert surrounding it could be more fun if developers would allow players to immerse themselves in the game world by doing side activities in town, such as hanging out with friends, eating, drinking, clubbing, bowling as Grand Theft Auto games allowed us since GTA San Andreas. In Cyberpunk when you go clubbing and want to order a drink at the bar, you will see a shopping cart on the screen - and it immediately throws you out of the flow. Considering the magnificent architecture of Night City, lack of immersing tools in it is one of the biggest missing features which prevents us from experiencing it more fully. In effect, exploring the game world concentrates for 90% of the time around driving from one mission to another and nothing beyond that. Cyberpunk 2077 is still far from the level of simulation reached by GTA IV and GTA V. Maybe in future games from CD Project RED we will have a chance of enjoying a more deep gameplay.

The best way to get around Night City is to drive one of the 54 vehicles available: sports cars, economy class vehicles, motorbikes, trucks etc. I especially liked the esthetics of nomad type of rides, so Mizutani Shion "Coyote" was my first pick and I am pretty sure that everyone will find something that will match their taste. The thing that made great impression on me was not only beauty of vehicle design on the outside but also inside them. Car cockpits are made with fantastic attention to details and I enjoyed driving in a first person perspective very much even if it's not my preferable view in racing games. For your creativity at designing vehicles in Cyberpunk 2077, I say chapeau bas, CD Project Red, BUT I have a big problem with car purchasing system. I don't know who came up with this idea and why it was implemented, but on the world map all cars and motorbikes available to buy are marked as side-quests... It creates an unnecessary mess when you're trying to filter map legend to figure out what should be your next move. System of buying cars in this game really seems like a last minute attempt to make it function and it was made quickly because nothing else was working, so they left it like that because they couldn't waste more of their production time. Who knows how many other aspects of the game were treated the same way? We can only guess. As for the driving system itself, I think that it should be toned down as the sensibility of handling makes our car turning too sharp. There is no need to expect from a story-driven RPG to be trying to implement Colin McRae Rally mechanics, and honestly there is no need to be changing that much. Actually - ironically speaking - sharp handling might be actually pretty useful at this point, since minimap during fast driving is zoomed so much that we will always miss a turn. It often ends in making u-turns and it's one of the most annoying features in the game that should be repaired as quick as it can; it lead me to a point where I turned the minimap off to be more focused on the traffic. Funny thing is that when I did it, while driving through more vacant locations of Night City I realized that the game engine keeps rendering artificial traffic in the far distance. It is especially highly visible during fast driving on the highways or Badlands and it wouldn't be a problem with more dense of real traffic. If at any moment of the game you will feel tired of driving - which shouldn't happen often anyway - there's a possibility of fast travel, but considering the amount of jobs that you can do in Night City I don't think that it will be necessary.

The world map is full of filler-quests of the same nature as question marks from Witcher 3, Far Cry series or Assassin's Creed. Majority of them are contracts for fixers who want you to steal a valuable object, hack computers of their enemies, kill someone, neutralise people sick of cyberpsychosis (Blade Runner vibes) or proceed a rescue mission; all of them starts with a phone call from a fixer who explains the nature of the contract and then sends you a message with all the details attached. Purpose of such missions is the same as always: earning experience, money and respect, and while most of them are just time fillers, the star of Cyberpunk 2077 shines its brightest light where the main plot and side quests lies. To avoid unnecessary spoilers I will keep it simple, and say that the main story focuses around a biochip which works as a storage for human personality - it's an obvious reference to mind constructs from William Gibson's "Neuromancer" and their subject will be deeply explored as the story progresses. It will also touch the subject of cyberspace, immortality, AI, human sex-dolls (reference to Gibson's meat puppets), braindancing (experiencing someone else's feelings through virtual reality) and many other aspects known in the cyberpunk genre. There is also another thing that has to be taken into consideration when we talk about great scenario and it is phenomenal character design. Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the games that presents a great variety of characters so different not only on their superficial level but most importantly through their personality. We will get to know them more through dialogues, and these are of the same quality as all The Witcher games which is a good thing on one side and a bad one on another. The good side is that dialogues are well written and the voice actors have done their best to express the emotions of their characters (even an actor of one face such as Keanu Reeves). The bad side is that we won't have much conversation lines to choose comparing to other RPGs (like Fallout New Vegas or Mass Effect) and their outcome mostly stays the same; the only thing that differs is the NPC reaction to our words, but after this, the conversation follows it's linear script. Unfortunately, after prologue, the dialogues seem to be losing their importance.

To complete your tasks in the world of Cyberpunk 2077 you can take different approaches as you like. If you're a sneaking type, the game allows you to avoid enemy encounters, hack security cameras and silently neutralising your enemies, reaching your target, and then going out unseen through air shafts or rooftops like in a good immersive-sim, so fans of Deus Ex games or Dishonored should be excited for it. Unfortunately, sneaking mechanics are still underdeveloped and have to be patched. You will easy get thrown out of immersion when your character will just suddenly stand up on it's own and get quickly exposed which usually causes a carnage and more often our instant death (especially on the hardest difficulty). To hide your activity in enemy area you can carry bodies of unconsious enemies. Problem is that by leaving them on the floor the game often kills them, treating them as if they had fallen from a great height - it may be a problem for a pacifist kind of players, so remember to make tactical quicksaves often because there is still a lot of work to be done here. Another approach is just open combat with firearms or melee weapons. Gunplay in Cyberpunk 2077 is the same you know from Borderlands, The Outer Worlds or Fallouts; not only the enemies but your character too are nothing more but sponges for bullets and the difference between living and dying in this world lies in precision of your attacks (aim for the headshots) and in the quality of armor you're wearing. We have to remember that Cyberpunk 2077 is an RPG and it is a genre that has it's flaws when it comes to keeping right pace of the combat. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if people found out that they like it; it's a matter of personal preference. Personally I don't like the bullet-sponge gunplay style; I liked more of a static combat known from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or Dying Light. The reason why I am not a fan of such mechanics is because they often lead to bizzare situations on the screen. Surviving rocket fire or shotgun blast in the chest from close distance is one thing, but I find it quite an abuse when we are unloading a whole magazine of bullets to an enemy sprinting in our direction with a melee weapon and despite our precision and headshots, he still manages to reach us with 5HP left and he kills us with two hits of a baseball bat. At this point I think that we can deny AI's self-preservation instinct. Oh, speaking of AI? Right...

Artificial intelligence of NPC's in Cyberpunk 2077 is a misunderstanding. Lack of self-preservation instinct is just a beginning. Small word of advise: stay away from the police. The wanted script is a mess; no matter where will you hide, the police will get to you. You can even try to barricade yourself in the basement with power weapons - the police officers will magically spawn behind you and quickly put you to the ground. High speed chases with law enforcements? You have to forget about it. AI driving script is pretty bad too.

For now, Cyberpunk 2077 in its current state (version 1.12) is far away from what we were supposed to get. The marketing machine behind it promised the players way too much and set for this game a difficult challenge to meet the expectations of the immersive, open world gameplay. Promises lead to expectations and expectations often lead to dissapointment. The matter of agressive marketing of Cyberpunk 2077 proves a lack of deliberation, which combined with the fact that we have recieved an unfinished product is absolutely unacceptable. Despite of over 8 million pre-orders sold - which is pretty impressive - I have to argue with the idea of calling this game success.

Other reviews52

Having played release and now on 1.6 the difference is night and day. This Game really shines now the bugs have been ironed out and the story is a genuine joy to play. If you never played it at release I urge anyone who was interested to give it a go now as this is now the experience we all wished we had at release.
«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»
I have no idea why everyone rated this game "exceptional" but sure isn't. The story might be "good" but the gameplay is bad, repetitive and boring asf. I wouldn't recommend this game to anyone but of course, this is just my opinion.
«Buggy as hell»
ost and presentation elevate this to way higher than it deserves
«OST on repeat»
Good one.
«That ending!»
I started playing a long time after release and I didn't experience many issues. I saw a car flip into the air for no reason, that was fun. I had to clear out all enemies from an area and one of them was in the group, that was not so fun. Ultimately, I enjoyed running around Night City and meeting some interesting characters. I didn't much like the FPS style combat and didn't feel like my character upgrades were doing much of anything.

Date Completed: 2022-08-21
Playtime: 30h
Enjoyment: 7/10
Recommendation: It's no Witcher but, at this point, I think it's worth a run through.
I was really not expecting to like this game as much as I did. From the first major mission setting up the main storyline I was on board and everything after was just a great ride. There were a lot of great side missions with a good handful of some fun detective work in a few. There are great companion characters that you will grow to love. Judy is one of my favorite game characters now with her awesome story arc and great VO performance. Speaking of VO, female V was incredible. That actor gave an incredible performance and nailed all the emotion she needed to convey in her scenes. Gameplay is fun but nothing special. It's very fun to just dice people up with mantis blades. I know this game had a hell of a rocky start but after the patch I encountered almost no bugs or crashes and just enjoyed the story and the world as I think they intended. I really hope others had as good of a time as I did with it.
«Blew my mind»
«Liked before it became a hit»
Ugly! Useful! Stupid!
It just didn't come together right. It's not that the game is low quality, but there is no real spirit that would make this game exceptional.
«Buggy as hell»
alright i know what im supposed to say about this game and what i actually feel about it are 2 different things so im just gonna tell you what i actually feel about the game but it must stay between me and you. I shit myself not once, not twice, not even three times. I played and shit myself 4 times in this game and each time i felt like a new character in a fresh new anime. Thats until you pass the intro for each lifepath of course but the gameplay is fun each time. 9/10, not a masterpiece but my god it is fun