From the developers of The Witcher franchise comes a new sci-fi RPG that could very well be 2020's most controversial game.
It's been a month since Cyberpunk 2077 released and its controversies continue to roll in. From its constant delays to its unfortunate state at launch and infamous development crunch, Cyberpunk 2077 has sadly cemented itself as one of the most troubling video game launches in history and it's clear that it will be a while before this story ends. However, at the end of the day, my job here at Video Chums is to answer a single question: is Cyberpunk 2077 ultimately any good? Well, yes and no.
You control a character known as V. After an initial prologue section, V is forced into the mercenary life in a place known as Night City in the year 2077. Eventually, V and his crew are approached to steal a particularly valuable item from the son of one of the world's most powerful CEOs. Unfortunately, the heist doesn't go according to plan and the CEO is killed by his son as are all of V's partners in the ensuing chaos. As it turns out, the item in question was a chip containing the personality and memories of a long-dead terrorist known as Johnny Silverhand. During the heist, V is forced to put this chip into himself which slowly begins to kill him as the persona of Silverhand starts to take over his mind. Left with few options, V must track down those who initially wanted the chip and figure out a way to get it out of his head before Johnny completely takes over his body and kills him.
Despite all of the controversies surrounding Cyberpunk 2077, it does boast a solid narrative that makes you want to push through its less pleasant aspects. The main story is divided into 3 paths that you have to follow in order to get to the end. One involves finding a man who may be able to help you with the chip in your head, another has you look for the people who originally wanted the chip, and the third tasks you with exposing the real people behind the murder of the CEO and this is where the story is at its strongest.
The 3 main parts have you accomplish an assortment of missions that vary from path to path. One mission line has you allying yourself with nomadic drifters while another has you looking through people's memories to find clues and you'll even plot a kidnapping. There is a decent variety to what you do in these quests and it ensures that you'll never get bored with them. Meanwhile, the writing has several twists and turns that you won't see coming and by the time it nears its conclusion, you'll find yourself caring about how the story ends. All of this is helped by the fact that the game world features a compelling cast of characters. Thanks to a combination of the writing and acting, you'll get truly invested in the fates of these characters as they help suck you into the world that CD Projekt Red has crafted.
The only real downside to the narrative is that it lacks its own sense of identity. Just about every major element or plot point takes inspiration from some other cyberpunk story; be it the Deus Ex games, Altered Carbon, or even Johnny Mnemonic. There are so many aspects throughout the journey that have their roots in other stories that it may make the story feel stale to fans of the genre.
The one area where Cyberpunk 2077 dramatically drops the ball is on the technical side and sadly, it's about as bad (if not, worse) than you've already heard. On paper, Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person shooter RPG that offers a variety of ways to execute your missions. Unfortunately, the whole game is so buggy that it's nearly impossible to complete a single mission smoothly. Throughout my playthrough, I had enemies detect me through solid walls, weapons that did no damage, items that would float in mid-air, frequent game crashes, and numerous other bugs involving bodies that have to be seen to be believed. It is easily one of the most bug-ridden games that I have ever played yet it still manages to be functional so it's an absolute shame that CD Projekt Red would let it be released in this state.
It also has to be said that the majority of the side-missions are incredibly lackluster. They simply involve going to some warehouse and stealing an item or killing a person and they certainly lack the depth and nuance that The Witcher 3 had.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a frustrating mess. Its main narrative and characters are compelling but it's all within a game so buggy that, in terms of games with good stories and botched launches, it gives Fallout: New Vegas a run for its money. While I enjoyed my time in Night City because of its solid writing and characters, I cannot give Cyberpunk 2077 a recommendation.
- + Great main story with well-done writing that has plenty of intriguing twists
- + Compelling cast of characters
- + Fascinating futuristic world
- - Lacks its own sense of identity
- - Side missions are super-repetitive
- - Buggy to the point of near-unplayability