Ok, I have a confession to make: Cyberpunk 2077 is a masterpiece. Yes, the game has taken a lot of flak for the buggy, near-unplayable mess that it was upon release for the PS4 and Xbox One but I am blessed with the PC version which was clearly made with more tender loving care. The developers, Polish studio CD Projekt Red, has also taken some very deserved criticism for its excessive and at times obnoxious marketing, frequent delays, and months-long “crunch time” imposed by management on its staff, a regrettably common exploitative practice in a gaming labor market where unions are non-existent and a surplus of labor (who wouldn’t want to make a living making videogames?) means all but a handful of A-list designers are expendable. Indeed, it is the utmost of ironies that a game based around the cyberpunk premise of rapacious hyper-capitalism ended up exemplifying every bit of it, a fact that has not gone unnoticed to the majority of reviewers who have called the game out for its sub-standard quality control at time of release and impossible-to-meet hype.
But still, launch fiasco and bugs (I have only encountered a couple of rather innocuous ones) aside, I have been utterly enamored by this game despite being less than halfway through it. Firstly, it has the brilliant Hollywood-quality plot and dialogue that one should expect from the people who brought us The Witcher 3. Secondly, it actually has enjoyable combat which I felt in The Witcher 3 was a bit bland, all the more considering it adds stealth elements like having to sneak past guards or security cameras. Thirdly, the hacking elements are perfectly done. Geralt of Rivia’s “witcher sense” has been replaced with a hacker mode where you can perform various kinds of cyber-trickery on any number of equipment around you, even enemies themselves. But even that pales in comparison to the “braindances”, essentially a detective “ghost-mode” which lets you enter other people’s memories and pick up visual, audio, or thermal clues. All this seems overwhelming at first but the game’s excellent in-game tutorials make it second nature very quickly. It’s all brilliantly done and gives you a good variety of tactical options to approach the game. Continue reading