Let’s talk about Cyberpunk. Some background from me on it is that I totally didn’t follow it as closely as many others, and I kind of wasn’t on board with CDPR from the start. I didn’t really care for any of the Witcher games, so I was enjoying watching Cyberpunk crash and burn when it launched. I think my favorite glitch was the one where if you were riding on a motorcycle, you would t pose with your pants off, letting your willy swing in the breeze. About a year after its release, the game made it to the 20 dollar price point and I decided I could give it a shot, and I have to say that without expectations or any knowledge of what was promised to be in the game, it was good. It was really good.
Some quick hits:
I decided to spec as a turbo nerd, because I wanted to try and fail in a spectacular fashion. It usually doesn’t work out in games because you are forgoing things like ‘health’ and ‘damage’ to be able to recite Shakespear, but I was pleased to say that it worked out rather well. I got the feeling that all attributes are viable playstyles, and mine was focused on hacking people, and crafting things. By the end of the game, I was only using the heat seeking sniper (which has a long reload animation and only 1 shot) and my hackerbrain to kill everything, and well, it was very efficient and sometimes even stealthy.
There were a lot of times when the game rewarded my skills, either through skill based dialogue or by allowing me to open doors and containers with my brains. This applies to other skills, such as a required strength to carjack someone or pry open doors, and a lot of missed ‘cool’ skillchecks because my guy was a total loser. Many checks were at 18/20 points, with one or two even at 20, but I don’t know if any of the dialogue ones changed the course of the game or just played out an extra voice line. The exploration was nice, though, and really tied the narrative that the game was ‘Deux Ex, but open world’.
The open world aspect is a mixed bag. You can summon any car you have unlocked with a button press, but driving in the game is a nightmare. Its hard to explain exactly why, and I’m sure keyboard and mouse doesn’t help anything, but it feels worse than GTA4 levels of driving. There are also fast travel kiosks spread throughout the map, which makes it easy to get around when something is out of running/driving distance. The open world activities are pretty bog standard, but I enjoyed quite a few of the filler quests and side quests, even if they all boiled down to ‘go here, shoot guys’. In one series of quests, you find mini bosses and have to try and take them down non lethally. This wasn’t a problem for mister gorilla arms, but I was never sure if there was a difference in the end results if I followed through. In most of the game, you can use non lethal tactics, but there is literally no difference - enemies will never get back up, and you don’t accumulate good or evil points. If you do a stealth mission guns blazing or kill someone you were supposed to knock out, the phone call from the mission provider will have a sassy tone, but after the third or fourth time, you would think they know who they hired to do the job.
I do want to comment on the set dressing for the game - it is more of a future Chicago than the pleasant golden towers of Deus Ex. The advertisements shown are akin to what you would see in Idiocracy, police are brutal, and the system of extrajudicial killings seems to be the standard. Sex is everywhere with ads for sex toys rampant, as well as strip clubs being prominently featured. They have a technology called a ‘brain dance’ which is like a full immersive VR strip tease, but people also use it to watch snuff films. Overall, it paints a picture, but doesn’t really have much to say about the augmentations or really anything besides ‘corporations are probably bad’. The main story plot is fine - you are slowly dying as Keanu tries to take over your body, and what can you do to fix this? The side missions with the romance intrigues are much more interesting, though, and maybe I’m just lonely but I felt like they were all done very well.
The gameplay after a certain point got stale for a gun based RPG, as I had my full kit, but it still felt fun to me and very empowering. What felt bad, though, was that it was laughably easy until it became impossible. You have health recovery items which you find literally everywhere and you have the ability to craft more from junk components. There was a point where I had over 200 recovery items and was using any excess to farm experience in crafting by disassembling and reassembling them. I would prefer the item to be something that is expensive with a usage on a cooldown rather than being able to hoard them so effortlessly. It takes the sting out of combat, although crafting is what broke the game in half. I was able to make a mod for clothes that increased their armor by 100, and legendary clothes have 4 slots each. Combine that with 6 or so slots, and I was basically a walking tank against all bullet based damage (melee and explosions don’t count armor for some reason). With all that being said, I prefer when a game lets the player break the systems rather than one that holds the reins and pulls you back when you fly too far.
Finally, yeah, the bugs. There are still a lot. For the first few hours, trees would appear through walls. Textures take far too long to load in, and at times everyone would just have 'PS1 face' for a solid minute before they went back to rendering properly. I experienced 2 hard crashes to desktop. There were random T Poses, characters sliding across the floor, walking through walls, talking without moving their lips. I wouldn't blame someone for saying it is still in an unfinished (but more accurately unpolished) state, and I could see these holding people back from liking the game, but for me they didn't serve as anything more than a breif distraction, and only once or twice were a large burden. This is coming from a PC player, so your experience may vary even on PC.
At the end of the game, there are several missions where you have to wait for the next trigger while someone does something (research, recon, drugs maybe), and I wish I would have known that. I spent a lot of time doing side quests just for the joy of them, but when I wanted to wrap up the game I was forced to do side content to kill time so I could resolve a handful of story lines I was interested in before taking the plunge into the point of no return. I was loath to finish the game because that meant I wouldn’t see all of the interactions with certain characters, and it meant that I would have to stop enjoying the combat loop of the game in favor of clearing out more of the backlog. Even after 30 some hours, I was left wanting to play more, and I think that’s a good sign. I could see going back into the game with a new V with new focuses and finding different routes and augments to make the experience something new. Overall, this game really surprised me with how much I enjoyed aspects of it, but I could see how it wouldn’t be for everyone.