Cyberpunk 2077 Review – More Cyber Less Punk

    Title: Cyberpunk 2077
    Developer: CD Projekt Red
    Release Date: December 10, 2020
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: CD Projekt Red
    Genre: RPG

To be completely straightforward, I didn’t really keep up with the production of Cyberpunk 2077. I knew it was based on the Cyberpunk board game and featured Keanu, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. Because of this, I didn’t really have any expectations of the adventure going in.

That being said, the Cyberpunk genre is one of my favorites, so I was curious to see CD Projekt Red’s take after their Witcher III release. While I am pleasantly surprised by the overworld and exploration Cyberpunk 2077 offers, it’s held back by numerous bugs that are unfortunately impossible to overlook.

To say much about Cyberpunk 2077’s plot would potentially risk spoilers for players, but it is safe to say you play as a fairly customizable character named V in the neon and grim filled Night City.

These customizations come in the form of both appearance and background. You are given quite a few options to fine-tune the character you wish. I found myself stuck on this screen for an embarrassing amount of time trying to get my in-game avatar just right. While it’s nice, this is offered most gameplay moments are spent in first-person, only for you to get a glimpse of your character on rare occasions.

Perhaps more important for actual gameplay is your character’s life path. You have the choice of the rural scavenging Nomad, the mercenary gang life of a Streetkid, or the business entangled Corpo. Each choice gives you a different introduction to your character and specific dialogue options later on. While there are some unique sections of each lifestyle, I found overall missions, and the majority of gameplay was basically the same when you got past the initial introduction. Still, it’s nice to have these different lifestyles to choose from.

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Cyberpunk 2077’s narrative is an interesting one and feels like it could be right out of a William Gibson novel. And the inclusion of cyberpunk veteran Keanu Reeves definitely doesn’t hurt. Even so, I found side missions and general exploration of Night City is undoubtedly my favorite part of the entire game.

There are so many different districts beautifully designed and overflowing with little nooks and crannies waiting to be investigated that, at times, can be a bit overwhelming. The side missions also lend to this feeling, such as every time I completed a mission two or more seem to pop up in its place. I often got completely sidetracked from the main story because I was gawking at the elaborate architecture or taking in the constant corporate advertisements surrounding every corner.

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Unfortunately, NPC’s don’t always help make the city feel as lively as it should. While you can speak to just about everyone, rarely do they have anything noteworthy to say. I eventually didn’t bother talking to anyone outside of missions and stores. However, I did like eavesdropping on others’ conversations, which helped flesh out the world a bit, as their dialogue was far more interesting than anything they were willing to offer up when speaking directly to me.

Combat sections are fun, and while not game-changing from many other FPS, are still pretty entertaining. I could see how confusing it can be for new players as Cyberpunk 2077’s leveling system doesn’t really tell you how to advance your character. It’s something you just kind of have to explore on your own. Because of this, my first mission was actually my hardest, as several enemies took about 10 or more headshots before dying, but once you get the hang of your skill tree and stat boosts, things become incredibly more manageable.

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These combat sections are at their best when you use cybernetic upgrades to hack into nearby computer systems or the enemy’s own mechanical enhancements to sabotage them. However, they can do the same to you. It would have been nice to see a bit more variety with hacks you must contend with, but “overheat” is your main obstacle during these sections. Essentially it’s a hack your enemies can perform that overheats your hardware and drains your health even when you’re hidden from gunshots. It gets old fast, and early on, it can be downright frustrating. Thankfully since one of the recent updates, this seems to happen less so.

To help aid you in combat and tech scenarios, you can upgrade your cybernetic hardware. These upgrades give you stat boosts and crazy offensive weapons like blades that spring from your arms. There is also a crafting system for weapons and clothing, but I didn’t really take advantage of it. You are constantly picking up items, but I wanted to craft the most effective items, and I was typically blocked from doing so. I’m not sure if this was a level issue or another reason, but I quickly lost interest in bothering with it too much. With that said, there is still quite a bit of flexibility and customization when you combine your skills, upgrades, weapons, and gear.

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It should be noted that for all of this, Cyberpunk 2077 will require a lot out of your PC. Even with a higher-end PC, you will most likely run into frame drops and hiccups. It might take some tweaking with the numerous graphic options found in the settings to get the game playing an adequate level for your specific rig. But when it is running at its highest capability, the environments and lighting are simply amazing.

Sadly Cyberpunk 2077 is hounded with numerous glitches, and while they don’t necessarily make the game unplayable, they are distracting and can take away from the immersive feeling of Night City. Items characters hold in their hand seem to be the biggest offender. During what was supposed to be a more emotional moment, a gun completely floated through a character’s head, which pretty much killed the mood. Another issue is with dialogues. One character kept repeating the same phrase over another’s dialogue, including their own.

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With item collection being a huge part of the game, some items are seemingly impossible to lock onto and pick up. Another glitch strangely had my gender alter mid-sentence and continued until I decided to reload a save in fear it would auto-save me as this new version of V. These are just some of the major issues I faced. Still, about every ten minutes, something small would come up. It didn’t totally ruin my experience, but I honestly would have preferred playing a version of this that felt more fine-tuned and complete.

With all that said, though, I have found Cyberpunk 2077 and the world in Night City extremely addicting. There is so much content delivered in side-quests that I know I will probably be playing for many more hours and at this moment feel confident I will 100% the game. Even with all of the bugs and issues it undeniably has, I still get a lot of enjoyment from cruising around the city and getting into glitchy mischief along the way.

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Cyberpunk 2077 is an expansive and entertaining journey, but one that feels like it comes with a ton of caveats. Exploring Night City and seeing all it offers can be a blast but is usually accompanied by some glitches along the way. Combat, while not revolutionary, is still very satisfying and never gets old. There is a great game here, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it lives up to its full potential with its performance issues.  With some more patches, I’m sure most of my complaints can be solved, but as it stands, Cyberpunk 2077 feels like it could have used a lot more work.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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