It’s weird to be reviewing Cyberpunk 2077. For the duration of my playthrough, I was lost in another world. A world that was as immersive and beautiful as it was filled with bugs and lacking in what was promised. To say Cyberpunk 2077 was a conflicting experience is putting it mildly.
I went into the game with surprisingly little expectations though. After all the hype and promises, I tried to mostly just put all that behind me. And what I ended up with was an experience I have a lot to say about. So let’s get to it!
A Future That Doesn’t Work
Cyberpunk as a genre is often heavily grounded in the technology we have today, but set in a future where technology is more physically integrated into our lives via implants. In a future that seems less and less fictitious, we see a world where commercialism is the law. Corporations practically have a stranglehold on the public, and body modification isn’t just a niche, it is the norm.
It’s in this future we meet V, in 3 possible beginning stories:
- NOMAD: You’ve grown up outside Night City, among the Nomads. In this life path, you’re an outsider to Night City, who has to look for a new life in the city.
- STREET KID: You’ve grown up on the streets of Night City, doing odd jobs for various fixers. A car heist goes wrong and you find yourself wrapped up in a new mission with your new friend Jackie.
- CORPO: You’re a Corpo Rat who finds yourself dumped by the Arasaka corporation and left without everything that was your old life. With your old corporate life in shambles, you build up a new network of friends in Night City.
V ends up on a new mission where they have to steal a biochip from the Arasaka Corporation. However things do not go according to plan, and V finds herself with the biochip jacked into her brain. Unfortunately for V, an accident leaves the chip permanently fused with their brain. And dead terrorist and rock star Johnny Silverhand is now part of their psyche.
The game now becomes a mission to figure out what to do with this problem as Silverhand’s personality threatens to overwrite V’s own. Together they set out on a mission to figure out what to do while making contact with Night City’s underworld along the way.
A Vast City
Despite the plot’s inherent urgency, Cyberpunk 2077 goes out of its way to delay it for you. There’s an almost overwhelming amount of gigs, side jobs, and activities to do in the game. Rushing through a lot of the side quests and mostly doing the main quest, I still got like 30-40 hours in the game in total on my playthrough.
The quality of the writing in the game is also something I wanna focus on. The writing and voice acting are so good, this is one of the few games that brought me to tears. It earns its intense moments by allowing the characters to breathe, giving you moments to connect to them. None of the characters in this game feel like side characters, and that is not an easy thing to do.
Even side jobs have the same level of writing quality, giving you deeper insight into the characters and allowing you to bond with them. This is the kind of game you not only can get easily lost in but also would want to. So please, don’t rush through the story as I did for the sake of a review. Allow yourself to get lost in the city and the characters.
Due to the size of Night City, I strongly recommend taking walks through the city. You’re more likely to notice landmarks and side activities that way. Driving is fine if you want an overview of the city, and good for getting between missions. But getting familiar with the city on foot is a whole other experience in this game.
When It Works, And When It Doesn’t
CD Projekt RED promised a lot of things for the game. The good news is that most of what Cyberpunk 2077 was shown and promised to be, remains intact. But the game ends up feeling like it’s unfinished. Because while what they promised is technically there, it’s not entirely there.
AI is a prime example. They promised that crowds would have their own daily routine and such. And sure, the game does a decent job simulating crowd AI. Except when you start causing trouble or doing anything to disturb the AI. That’s when things fall apart a bit.
The AI is good at doing what it has been scripted to do. But anything that disturbs the script just results in people completely stopping everything they do. Bump a car and it just stops dead in its tracks. Disturb a person and they just cower and completely stop whatever they are doing. It kinda reminds me of the AI in the original Deus Ex, and not in a good way.
The same can be said about the cop AI. Sure, it does act differently depending on the region you’re in. Some regions tolerate certain crimes while in others, they might care more about what you do. The issue is that cops seemingly has the ability to teleport anywhere they want. And they also seem to lose interest in you relatively fast if you run away.
There are also a ton of features that feel strangely absent from the game. You cannot customize your character at all after character creation. Not even change your hairstyle. For a game so focused on body modification, not having cosmetic surgery or even a hairdresser feels incredibly weird. If they are going to add anything in future DLCs those would be at the top of my priority lists.
More Bugs Than A Bait Store
One of the main issues with Cyberpunk 2077 is exactly its unfinished nature. Due to mismanagement at CDPR, the game remains rather buggy and far from having the polish we were promised. On PC you will definitely get the best experience. I didn’t play the game on any of the console ports, but from what we’ve heard it seems like the worse experience.
Luckily CD Projekt RED has been hard at work patching the game on both PC and consoles. The game still feels unfinished though. Most of the bugs I experienced were not exactly game-breaking but could be jarring.
Though I did experience some game-breaking bugs. The worst one I experienced was that enemies and NPCs has a tendency to glitch outside the playable area. It happened during a tutorial mission where the objective was to kill all the enemies, which rendered the entire mission unfinishable.
The good news is that most of the game-breaking bugs are easily fixed. Reloading a save in most cases fixes any on-going glitches. Though I remain hopeful that the game will receive patches to address these issues.
Functional, But Not Perfect
The gameplay definitely has a lot of nuances and allows for multiple styles of gameplay. It feels like a mix between Deus Ex, Syndicate (2012), and a bit of GTA. The Deus Ex influence is there in terms of how you’re allowed to approach each mission how you see fit. Whether you want to use stealth or go in guns blazing.
One thing I’m kinda surprised the game doesn’t have are more speech checks. Sure, you’re allowed to talk your way out of some situations, but for the most part, when you go into a hostile area, you’re either forced to stealth or use combat. It seems dialogue is only used to further the plot, which is a little disappointing.
I was also surprised the game doesn’t really have any charisma system in place or speech skill. I was thinking maybe the way you dress impacts how easily you talk to people, but that unfortunately isn’t a thing either. So I feel there was a lost opportunity here to have a somewhat creative charisma stat.
That being said, the RPG elements are strong, and the choices you make have an impact on the story. I didn’t really feel like the skill trees had any significant impact on gameplay though. Aside from a few key upgrades that added some new abilities, I felt most of the skill upgrades were somewhat lacking.
That being said, considering the possible length of the game, it’s nice to have an incremental upgrade rather than a few strong ones. It gives you more long term goals to work towards and allows you to focus more on a specific build than getting all the upgrades.
Cyber Warfare – Combat of Cyberpunk 2077
The combat in Cyberpunk 2077 can best be described as… well, fun when it works and everything clicks. But endlessly frustrating at times. The gunplay is at least somewhat deep, with guns having randomized stats when you find them. They can do different types of elemental damage, which can deal damage over time to enemies. The four main elements are thermal (fire), corrosion (acid), and electricity.
You can also mod your guns with attachments like scopes, silencers, and chips that boost the gun’s abilities. These mods can add various effects to the guns and increase the damage output. Different grenades can also deliver different types of damage. So there are a lot of tactical options available to you.
There are various types of weapons too, as well as different types of ammo for the weapons. Pistols and revolvers use pistol ammo, and both can use silencers and scopes. Shotguns come in various forms and use shotgun ammo. SMGs and assault rifles use rifle ammo. And finally, precision rifles and sniper rifles use sniper ammo.
Weapons also come in tech and power varieties which affects how the bullets behave. Power weapons have bullets that ricochet off surfaces. You can use this to hit enemies behind corners. Tech weapons can penetrate through certain objects, which helps in hitting enemies hiding behind cover. Smart weapons will automatically aim for you if you have smart aim cyberware installed.
You can upgrade your combat abilities in the Body and Reflexes categories mostly. Body covers mostly blunt melee weapons and strength related attacks. And Reflexes covers anything related to guns and blades.
The Stealth Option
Stealth is always an option in Cyberpunk 2077. While it may be tempting to go in guns blazing, a sneaky character can get by without even being noticed by the enemies. The stealth might not be the most in-depth, though investing more points in the Cool group will give you more options.
It is also a viable option for NetRunners. Quick hacks can be useful in battle as well as in stealth. The Reboot Optics quick hack is probably one I relied on a lot for my stealth runs. It does what it says, rebooting the optics of enemies so that for a brief window they cannot see you. Which is useful for sneaking past them.
You can also use hacking for disabling cameras briefly. An upgrade even allows you to disable all cameras on a network when doing a Breach. A breach also reduces the amount of RAM required to perform a quick hack.
Hacking and NetRunning skills are in the Intelligence and Tech categories. Tech categories also allow you to open closed doors easier. Intelligence and Tech are both essential to upgrade for NetRunners.
Driving Through Night City
The driving controls are another thing to touch on. I feel that for the most part, they are easy to get used to. But definitely not the best driving controls I’ve had in a game. They’re not really terrible, but definitely take some getting used to.
Cars are fine but motorcycles definitely feel the hardest to control. And both cars and bikes take way too long to stop if you’re driving full speed. So apparently breaking is the real issue in the future.
That being said, when cruising through the city at a normal speed and just following the traffic, driving is definitely fun to do in the game. When driving between missions I’d often take my time and just drive slowly to soak in the city.
One thing I noticed though was that texture pop-in happens a lot more frequently when driving. Billboards and signs in particular sometimes don’t load textures at all when arriving in other parts of the city. And I was running the game from an M.2 SSD so I have no idea why this happened. A fix I found was to enter photo mode, which seems to “refresh” the textures and load them correctly.
You obtain new cars through fixers as you play the game, though I wish there was an easier way to buy cars through a shop or something. And you can’t store cars you steal either, so the game feels strangely limited in that regard. There’s also no way to customize cars so if you hate your paint job or want to modify your car, tough luck.
A Gorgeous Game
One thing is for sure. On a graphical level, Cyberpunk 2077 is stunning. Night City is rendered with insane attention to detail, with every part of it feeling unique and distinct. A trip through the Badlands and Pacifica feels distinctly different from each other. So I feel the team did an amazing job making the city not feel too samey.
The characters also all look really good. There are tons of little details on the models that add to their personality and make them feel alive. I noticed for instance, how Viktor the Ripperdoc has numerous needle marks on his arm after all the times he has injected his arm to have it steady during surgery. And Johnny Silverhand’s cybernetic arm has a bit of damage to it.
The addition of a photo mode feels really fitting and it’s what I used to grab most of the screenshots. It has a lot of options and filters to make your screenshots pop even more. And I loved how it was available practically all the time, even during dialogue or scripted sequences. Though a third-person view was only available when I wasn’t engaged in conversation or in a cutscene.
The game ran mostly at 30 FPS on High settings in 1080p for me on my RX 580 and Ryzen 7 1800X combo. You will definitely see better framerates on high-end machines, but the game definitely either demands a lot from the system or isn’t optimized for mid-end machines. Given the game’s numerous performance issues on last-gen consoles, it seems the game really isn’t optimized for lower-end hardware.
To be honest, 30 FPS is fine with me and I had a very good experience with the game, but if you’re aiming for 60 FPS or higher, you will definitely want to lower your settings or upgrade your hardware.
The Punk In Cyberpunk
The audio is equally impressive as the graphics. The voice cast does an amazing job here, and Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand provides an impressive range of emotions for the actor. I also rather liked the female V voice actor (still haven’t heard the male much as I’ve only played female characters so far). The voice cast in general left a strong impression on me as they all did an amazing job bringing these rich characters to life.
The ambient noise helps the immersion as well, and the random conversations you come across are all acted well. To be honest, I couldn’t find any real flaws in the sound design in the game. And the weapons sound really good, especially Johnny Silverhand’s gun which makes me damn near orgasm every time I fire it.
I also enjoyed the game’s soundtrack. I already interviewed the composers about the production and hearing them mentioning that they wanted to create a 90s atmosphere definitely fits the soundscape of the game. There’s a lot of analog synthesizers being used to make really intense sounds. And the beats help push the action up when needed.
My only complaint really has to be the licensed music in the game. The radio channels all feature music that all is really good but doesn’t really stand out that much. Aside from a couple of tracks here and there, most of it just doesn’t grab me. I feel I probably speak on behalf of everyone else when I say this game desperately needs a custom radio channel.
The game definitely needs more synth-wave and more EBM. Commissioning some tracks from the Swedish artist REIN or Front Line Assembly I feel would’ve been a lot more fitting than at least half the tracks they put in the game. There’s a surprising lack of actual cyberpunk in the game and more just modern techno, pop, and EDM. And a hefty amount of hip hop which fits the urban them but definitely isn’t to my personal taste.
An Amazing Unfinished Experience
In conclusion, Cyberpunk 2077 is nowhere near finished. We have two huge patches in January and February that promises to fix most of the worst issues. But the hard cold truth is that Cyberpunk 2077, even on PC, is still riddled with bugs and glitches and performance issues.
But underneath the bugs, underneath the unfinished mess, it is, there is an amazing game. There is true passion behind this game. And the writing has a heart to it. It touches on really serious and disturbing issues without ever flinching or avoiding them. The game asks serious questions about the future we are heading into and does so in a surprisingly adult manner.
I would even say the game is progressive when it comes to transgender issues. The game allows you to play any gender you like and even have any genitals you like. For some reason, it ties your gender to your voice, but it’s at least preferable to tying it to your junk.
But for all intents and purposes, the game is about rampant consumerism and how it affects humanity. It features classic cyberpunk tropes and acts as a warning of the future, rather than something we should aspire for. The world of Cyberpunk 2077 is deeply entrenched in issues that stem directly from corporations ruling the world and technology taking precedence over human souls. In a quite literal sense.
Cyberpunk 2077 might be struggling but it shines in all the places that truly count. A truly addictive and captivating game that leaves you with a lot of thoughts and feelings. So in all honesty, it remains one of the best games I’ve ever played, but also one of the most unfinished ones.
So as it is, I would recommend getting Cyberpunk 2077 later, when the bugs have been fixed and the price has dropped. And hopefully, we will have some DLC to address the features I feel are missing from the game. I truly love this game and want nothing else but to see the team’s full vision fulfilled. It really deserves it.
Despite being a complete buggy mess at times, Cyberpunk 2077 is still able to deliver a great story and addictive gameplay that keeps you coming back for more. Whether you want to grab it now or wait for it to get patched, this is not a game you should pass on.
- Amazing writing and story
- Great voice acting
- Immersive and addictive RPG elements
- Excellent soundtrack
- A lot of potentially gamebreaking bugs
- Game feels unfinished
- Some oddly missing features such as post character creation customization
- Combat feels a bit clunky, especially melee
Sound and Music