Unless you live in a hermitage in an isolated cave on the edge of the world, the launch of Cyberpunk 2077, the latest CD Projekt RED title, should be known to most: the product, released on December 10, 2020, has in fact been discussed extensively for away from managerial problems and a console port plagued by numerous flaws that have affected the experience of many users.
With the fuss that has arisen following the launch of the game, it has become very difficult to talk about it in a targeted way, especially because few games have received so much attention and curiosity and then get such an aggressive and hostile response.
Behind all the drama and behind-the-scenes controversy of the Polish studio, however, there is still a video game, developed by a substantial number of developers over the last 4 years, about which there is a lot to say and about which it is worth spending the time and patience.
Good morning Night City
For those who know the series pen and paper of Cyberpunk, created by Mike Pondsmith and published by R. Talsorian Games, the independent city of Night City, theater of the events of the game, will awaken some memories: in 2077 the city always at the mercy of gangs and megacorporations is more ruthless and decadent than ever, a cauldron of cultures, organized crime, corruption and vandalism with picturesque atmospheres for those who have the right resources, but which ends up consuming everyone else in a constant struggle to get to the new day hoping to be in the same state in which one is started the old.
This imbalance, an integral part of the life cycle of the city since its foundation, makes Night City a place that has a lot to offer as much as to take away from anyone who wants to dare to leave the pattern aware of being able to lose everything at any moment.
It is in this context that we will take on the role of V, an edgerunner with great ambitions who has chosen to get involved and become a real legend by following the dangerous and delicate life of a mercenary.
The window to glory opens up with the commission of a robbery of Yorinobu Arasaka, the rebel heir of the greatest corporate emperor the world has ever seen, leading V to come into contact with the experimental chip Relic and the construct of psyche and personality kept within it, that of Johnny Silverhand, subversive rockerboy of the 20s. From this moment V and Johnny will start a bizarre coexistence in which they will have to fight for survival against the obstacles that the city has put in front of them and the solution to their delicate situation.
The way in which these strange circumstances will be dealt with will depend mainly on the approach and personal input of the player: V's appearance and narrative background will in fact be part of the first bars of the game, entirely dedicated to the creation of the character, and which will open the possibility to some dialogues based on the previous knowledge of V's past life and to different relational options with the various characters that will be encountered in the game. Beyond these details, the initial creation choices (except, of course, for the scores to be assigned to the parametric characteristics) are mostly a matter of personal flavor aimed at immersing oneself as much as possible in the atmospheres and tones of Night City .
Never fade away
The adventure that we will live in the role of V is rather atypical for the genre of the game we will face: in fact we will not be able to identify a "big villain" to face or an imminent danger to avert that risks bending Night City or, worse, the whole world without our intervention, simply leaving us, together with Johnny, to face the city's vicissitudes in the way we consider most sensible and significant.
Cyberpunk 2077 is, therefore, an intimate journey in search of meaning, of something that gives meaning to staying in the cruel vortex of a mean and ruthless city, that it is simply remaining meaningful in the memories of the people we will meet and in their lives. that we will choose to influence or, more simply, make our way between the corrupt and the criminals by reaching the top of the Night City food chain,
What every single choice proposed, every single mission completed and every approach to them represents for V and, consequently, for the player, is of fundamental importance for the narrative of Cyberpunk 2077, in an attempt to chase and represent the spirit of “style beyond substance” that permeates the basis of the roleplay of the print series.
Therefore, how much the outcomes are convenient to V will not always count, just as the very result of our actions may not count, putting in the spotlight how these results (or the lack of them) are achieved, leaving the player to reflect on the issues addressed and on the events we have witnessed.
For this reason, the game submits through its activities a variety of themes and very varied events that involve both typical themes of the cyberpunk genre and much more concrete, real and related to everyday life, with or without the very advanced and imaginative technology of this alternative twenty-first century imagery.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person action RPG title that makes massive use of elements typically derived from Immersive Sims.
The level design, developed horizontally and vertically, giving life to an extraordinarily coherent and cohesive city from the urban point of view, supports these mechanical choices by proposing a very varied approach to individual missions (both primary and optional) and dependent on the player's choice on the construction of the skill of V.
The progression system is, in fact, quite elaborate, combining and crossing different methods of advancement, paving the way for multiple types of skills to focus on.
First of all, Cyberpunk 2077 proposes a subdivision of V's abilities into five different attributes: Physical, Reflexes, Technique, Intelligence and Coldness: these can be increased once at each level up from a base established during character creation and define V in terms of his personal skills, both from the concrete point of view such as, for example, the knowledge of electronic equipment, computer systems, weapons, etc ..., and from the point of view of his character and experience, allowing the player to define through the parametric progression of the character (increasing Physical will give us, for example, more HP, as well as higher Reflexes will allow us to have more critical hits, etc ...) his personality pushing him towards intimidation, cunning, humor, and so on, opening up different options for dialogue and interaction that can prove decisive for the mission on duty.
Each attribute is assigned a certain number of skills, which can be trained through their use in game, and which define V's competence in that specific field, which can range from the use of materials to build new equipment to the use of long range weapons, stealth, close combat skills, physical prowess, and so on.
Increasing the level of skills will allow you to improve various aspects of them depending on the level reached, which will never exceed the score of the corresponding attribute, and to earn talent points (also obtained with the level increase): these points will be distributed in the various skill tree, each linked to a single skill of the many available, unlocking different upgrades that can be passive or real additional actions.
This system allows a very large number of combinations to adapt V to every need and style of play that the player may wish: depending on your taste V can be an invisible ghost able to go unnoticed in any place, a precise and efficient killer capable of facing any firefight, a hacker capable of annihilating entire armies without lifting a finger and much more, going to constitute an extraordinarily malleable system net of a planning request by the player (given that, due to this they represent, attributes cannot be redistributed, unlike talents).
Cyberware is added to the specific characteristics of V, that is to say all those cybernetic modifications that our body will be able to endure during the game by compensating with technology the limits that the human body: armaments, protective layers, increased cognitive abilities, radar and so on, they can be installed by your own trusted scalpel with the awareness that, once a part has been modified, however much it can be improved or interchangeable with other Cyberware, it will never be reversible, making V an organism gradually less and less organic.
Not all Cyberware will be available out of the box, of course, either for asking for a certain attribute threshold or because, as well as for the sale of weapons and other equipment, V's reputation on the streets of Night City will affect what the Scalpel they will be willing to install on his body.
This last feature is a value that grows parallel to V as we complete missions and activities, improving our social position in the Night City underground by opening up not only new business opportunities, but also new employers and new missions to part of more and more important people as our name will echo reaching increasingly high-ranking ears.
The City of Dreams
The playful flexibility of Cyberpunk 2077 does not stop, however, only at the construction of the character, but is further supported by the exploratory component of the title.
Night City is in fact free of artificial constraints allowing us, as long as we are able to identify the path and with the suitable movement and Cyberware skills, to use the environment to our advantage in the way that we consider most suitable for the resolution of our mission, also reaching unorthodox strategic points with the right pinch of creativity.
Walking the streets of the city, on the other hand, is a fundamental element of the title given the amount of work available to us scattered in the various districts, and it is precisely here that the involvement of a professional urban planner in the design of the game map is most felt. , creating an environment that gives the concrete sensation of moving through an urban environment reasoned around the lifestyle and needs of those who live there rather than around the playful needs of the protagonist, as often happens in the fictitious cities of video games.
To support the need to continuously move from one point of the city to another, in addition to the traditional fast travel points, Cyberpunk offers a wide variety of vehicles that can be obtained as a form of payment for our services and purchased from various retailers. .
The driving system of Cyberpunk 2077 strongly depends on the vehicle you have on your hands: each car and motorcycle is in fact handled in a different way, sometimes being excessively slippery and artificial on some models, while much more pleasant and precise on others.
The ability to recall our favorite vehicle on command also makes some models capable of storing excess equipment quite handy for when we don't necessarily want to return to our personal armory in our apartment.
Stuffed with references, easter eggs and particular extras, Night City turns out to be one of the most visually impressive environments of recent times, both for visual design and art direction, with a clear distinction, based on local cultures and social class, of aesthetics and the care of the various districts making each portion of the city easily identifiable and recognizable at a glance, just as it is immediately understandable to notice where one district ends and another begins.
This also helps in navigating the city, which is very vast in its external and internal environments, and helps to immerse yourself in the feeling of city life that the title wants to give to the player.
In support of this, the use of telephone calls as a means of communication with the characters that we will meet in discussing their quests interspersed with waits that can take days (in the game) and designed to seem purely random turns out to be an intelligent and effective solution, as is the assignment of the less important "chores" from the narrative point of view in correspondence with our passage in the area where that mission will take place.
Also from the sound point of view, CD Projekt RED has done a great job, both in terms of the sounds of cities, shops, street music and traffic and from the musical point of view, with a soundtrack that manages to dissociate from the "traditional" cyberpunk genre more linked to an 80s sound with the so to speak alternative feeling that the entire setting of the franchise usually proposes, managing to make Night City, overall artistic and structural, the real second protagonist of the game .
Unfortunately Cyberpunk does not lack some technical and design flaws that unfortunately experience the game: first of all there is certainly the feeling of the melee system of the game, not always precise and satisfactory, as a custom of first-person RPGs and which can sometimes make that style of play chaotic if used lightly.
The navigation of the inventory, a rather relevant element of this type of game, can be careless, lacking the possibility of making multiple objects crafting, a scroll bar of the menus and to reorder the objects based on the date of discovery.
Fortunately, at least this last lack can be filled, as well as some smallnesses of quality of life that the game could greatly benefit from can be solved, however these are shortcomings that at present can leave us dissatisfied given the inconvenience that some aspects of the game can take on. because of them.
Beyond the more "mechanical" side of the title, however, the experience, at least on PC, net of generally positive performance even on fairly dated hardware, finds some small glitches that break the immersion, such as visual and physics errors of the objects that, beyond the passing hilarity of the moment, do not however destroy the gaming experience.
The problem of breaking immersion also affects some quests and various moments of the game in which, unfortunately, it is very easy to destabilize the game by sending the scripts into confusion and going to see some momentary jam that, although it does not prevent the fulfillment of the objective of turn, it somewhat breaks the illusion of involvement.
Even with an AI that is not particularly out of the ordinary but that, at least at high difficulty, does its essential job, it all stands up pretty well as long as it doesn't break the “magic” of the scene's fiction.
The problems obviously stand out much more if they are explicitly searched, but the “spontaneous” experience of the title is fortunately quite solid, albeit in a delicate balance that can lead to turn up one's nose where, in other instances, one might be amazed.
The most annoying situations arise when it is necessary to reload the game, which is what fortunately turns out to be the worst case.
Despite everything, however, Cyberpunk 2077 is a title that knows how to surprise thanks to the impressive amount of builds, approaches of action, confrontation of enemies and dialogues, with stories that deal with a multitude of themes, ranging from the adrenaline to the funny to the dark. , sometimes at the same time, offering an incredibly flexible design that pushes the player to try and explore constantly, offering a very high amount of activity right from the start without holding hands and letting the player explore and discover what Night City has to offer according to his personal rhythms, giving an experience that is worthwhile to immerse yourself personally in the role of edgerunner.