Cyberpunk 2077 is big. So big that this review is only covering my first 24 hours with the game. From what I can gather from the mission screen I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of story and even side missions for this game. I also want to point out this is in no way a bad thing.
CD Projekt Red had to make a statement explaining that the story of Cyberpunk will be shorter because people complained that The Witcher 3 was too long. Just to sidetrack this review just a little bit I think that’s ridiculous. I understand that not everyone has the time to invest in a game constantly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t just complete the game over the course of however long it takes for you rather than rush through it in order to play the next thing you bought. It’s like complaining that your food was TOO delicious or that you got a free dessert with your meal. (I might just be hungry.)
So let’s start with the basics in this review. Does the game run well? Well for the most part yes. I have a pretty high-end computer and I was running into a fair amount of bugs. Only one or two of them game-breaking but enough small bugs to bring me out of the game or just annoy me. Things such as the civilians not realising you’ve been out of combat for 5 minutes and cowering in front of doorways that you need to go through to start a mission or trying to vault over certain fences sending you flying backwards like Superman just chest bumped you. Pretty much all of the bugs were fixed by just reloading but that’s not an excuse, it’s merely a mediocre solution.
Combat wise this game is a first-person shooter. That’s about it in the first 24 hours. I’m sure if you invest heavily in the hacking side of things combat might be a little more interesting but I don’t feel like I should be punished because I wanted to play a tough as nails Irish woman with a ginger afro, wielding a construction hammer and smashing in heads. Doing that is fun in the same way DOOM is fun but with how much hype surrounded Cyberpunk it’s a little hard to remember that this is just a game, not the second coming of James Bond Jr. for the NES.
I do like how the guns feel. I’ve gone for a charge shotgun and a light machine gun and by golly do I feel like the Doom Marine just covering rooms in bullets and blood with no regard for the poor cleaning lady who’s arriving in the morning. The guns also sound great. If you’re playing this game with headphones (Because of course, you should be) this game is truly immersive in terms of its sound design. Guns will leave your ears ringing and the sound of rain will make you check the weather app on your phone. A lot of love went into the guns and sound design of this game.
Story-wise the game’s pretty cool. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s as good or better than The Witcher 3 considering that game had a lot more consistent characters that you interacted with a lot and got to know. But again keep in mind this is the first 24 hours in a review so these opinions might change. I will say the story of this game did make me genuinely tear up and cry at a funeral.
It might just be that it’s 2020 and we’re all feeling pretty glum because it’s 2020 but that doesn’t stop this moment in the game from being genuinely touching and moving. Otherwise, the story is mostly cool because the world is cool. You’re navigating through a cyberpunk dystopia that feels frighteningly real in the same way that the “Super Heroes” in The Boys feels real. It hits a little too close to home in the sense that it reminds you that humanity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in terms of moral values.
Speaking of the world I have two critiques in regards to the advertisements in this game. In one of the earlier Cyberpunk trailers, we saw a poster that caused a lot of controversies. Now I’m not here to defend or decry the poster, I have no real horse in that race. I feel that my own knowledge of transgender life and politics is not good enough to really comment. However, in this trailer, we see this poster once and it’s pretty innocuous unless you’re looking for it. In the actual game that poster is everywhere! Which feels a little coincidental if you ask me.
I’m not accusing CD Projekt Red of anything malicious but it does seem a little in poor form for that poster to just be plastered everywhere in the game, to points where it’s often unavoidable. I’m not for artistic censorship but come on guys, this is a bit much. The second critique is more for the ads overall. Do you remember the adverts in Saint’s Row and Grand Theft Auto are always pretty satirical and over the top? Gun adverts that openly mentioned cutting a house thief in half with a 12-gauge kind of over the top? Well, Cyberpunk takes this a little too far in my opinion. I understand that it’s meant to be a capitalist dystopia but the adverts feel more edgy than gritty or poignant. They’re just kind of silly to the point where CD Projekt Red might as well knock on your door just to ask if you get it or not.
Another little critique I’d like to throw at the game is that mission NPCs don’t obey the rules of the road. Considering this has been possible since around GTA 3 and possibly earlier it’s just a little bit of a shame. NPCs will run red lights but continue to drive the speed limit. Once when the car I was riding in was waiting to pull out onto the main road and there was a car in the way, the car literally phased out of existence temporarily. This left a driver floating in space before they too were cast into the void for the sake of the relentless march of the plot. I understand that this kind of thing is not easy to program but Rockstar managed it on a PlayStation 2 almost 20 years ago.
Since we’re talking about the NPC driving, let’s talk about the actual driving. While the cars are absolutely stunning to look at they all seem to handle like mud on wheels. The first person camera is so leaned back that you’d think your character is about to put their feet up on the dashboard. The turning circle of every car I’ve driven is as wide as some continents and when I finally got a motorcycle I was disappointed to find out they had the same problem. Do you know what one of the main advantages of motorcycles is? The manoeuvrability. While motorcycles are a thousand times better to drive because you can filter between cars and they do tend to have a slightly better turning circle they still face the problem of trying to turn and crashing into a poor civilian which immediately puts the police on your tail. I honestly don’t understand how CD thought this mechanic was finished or ready to ship. It’s just not fun to drive in this game.
Let’s interrupt this stream of negatives with another positive. The voice acting is spectacular. Anyone from main characters to random people on the street has excellent voice work behind them. Yes yes, everyone’s favourite good boy Keanu is in it and he is a very good voice actor. So good to the point where I think he should consider moving his career to videogames and animated flicks. (Especially now more and more mature animations are coming out.) But, as I said, even the hobos and randos are voiced well.
My favourite NPC I’ve found is the homeless conspiracy theorist who just rants and rants about anything from vampires to lizard people. He is such a piece of our current history that still fits so well in Night City. CD did pretty well with their casting of the main characters of The Witcher 3 but the NPCs were pretty run of the mill. As I said, a lot of love went into certain parts of this game. It’s just weird that this same love wasn’t applied to core aspects. Like driving. Or bug fixing.
Overall I will say that I am enjoying the game. Enough to play it for almost 24 hours straight. There are just a few niggling problems that need to be addressed and considering CD Projekt already delayed the game twice and lied about how long crunch was happening then why just not do crunch, release the game early next year and avoid the whole situation? This isn’t the next instalment of not that popular game insert here. This is one of the most ambitious projects of all gaming created by one of the most beloved companies of gaming. People will buy it even if you delayed it a year. Sure people will complain and there’ll be a little bit of pad PR but it won’t affect the sales one bit, want to know why? Because there’s no game like it and Skyrim sucks. So there’s nothing to fear from waiting for a little longer.
Also, small note here, if you are going to have segments of the game that are core to the story that has a high chance of inducing seizures in your players. A paragraph-long warning at the launch of your game that disappears after half a second is not enough. That is something that needs to either be outright removed or have an option at the start of a new game that asks if players want to turn it off.
The big question is if Cyberpunk 2077 is worth the £50 asking price? For once I’m not going to give a definitive answer to this question. It truly is up to you. Right now there’s plenty to be upset about either in the game or out of it. The bugs are present despite all of the crunch devs were forced to endure and the possibly transphobic attitude the game and its developers are not only there but almost celebrated really. It truly is up to you this time around.
Considering how controversial this game is in the current media I would love to see your comments but I would ask to keep them respectful of the staff here at Powerspike and anyone who has voiced their concern about aspects of the game and its developers. They’re all real, living, breathing human beings. Treat them as such.