*This review is based on over 40 hours of gameplay on a PS5 console and completion of the main storyline
I have been both excited, and terrified to talk about Cyberpunk 2077. The game that took the gaming world and internet by storm at first with anticipation, and then complete disdain. A game that everyone was hoping to be the magnum opus for the Xbox One and Playstation 4 era and a glimpse into the future of gaming. Full disclosure, I tried my hardest to not let myself get overwhelmed with expectations and letting my mind run wild with what Cyberpunk could be… but it’s CD Projekt Red. They gave us one of the greatest games of all time in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and now they were giving us a new IP in a futuristic megacity. It’s hard to not let yourself get swept up in the excitement of that. Fast forward today, and CD Projekt Red is muddled with controversy amongst themselves, investors and gamers alike because of the messy launch that the game had.
With that, I’ll begin my dive into the game itself. I normally try to keep my reviews analytical about the components of the game and avoid letting bugs influence my overall view of the game because, in the modern era of gaming, every game single game has hiccups at launch. That’s the nature of the industry right now – push games early because as consumers we get impatient, and fix the issues over time. That is not to say that is the wrong thing to do, I think that just means we have to be patient with the launches of these games – but I digress. I have to bring the issues that Cyberpunk has to light because – in some instances – the game is unplayable.
I won’t speak on last generation consoles only because I haven’t experienced it first hand but my experience on the PS5 was – at times – frustrating. Throughout my playthrough, the game would just crash and send me back to my homepage. It was anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour like clockwork. I will say, on the PS5, there wasn’t too many smaller bugs that I ran into for most of the time I spent in Cyberpunk. The occasional cigar or phone that someone was holding would just continue floating where the person was holding it originally. The only part of the game I had issues with was a “calm before the storm” type sequence near the end of the game that kept having characters in the wrong places or an objective marker that wouldn’t update. The game has issues, and plenty of them.
If you can look past the technical issues the game has, you will find A LOT to love about Cyberpunk 2077. On the PS5, the game is beautiful and the world is so incredibly detailed. Every street corner, alleyway, building, vehicle, weapon and clothing item was given so much attention to detail – making this a game world you can truly get immersed in. I even found myself constantly stopping to figure out how to traverse the city to get on top of certain buildings because of how intricate the world was and how much fun it was to run around in it.
When zooming through the streets on one of the many vehicles in the game, it definitely did not always feel as fun. The steering on most vehicles is pretty sensitive and hard to control. Any motorcycle you find in the game will be your favorite vehicle because they are the only vehicle type that are much easier to control. The most frustrating part about driving in the game is the navigation. They only give you a small mini map with a dotted line to follow. The map is so small that you are constantly missing exits on the highway or turns in the busy streets of downtown Night City. They also do not give you the actual distance of your drive to get from point A to point B, they tell you how far you are physically from that point. In a game world that was designed as intricately as Night City was, this means a lot of the teams you are traveling much farther than your waypoint suggests.
That is one of the few complaints I have about the game design. Once you get into the actual gameplay and shooting mechanics are both really well done. The shooting gameplay feels like more like Fallout than Call of Duty, but the movement system keeps a lot of encounters fast paced when you are not trying to stealth your way through a job. Hacking was a feature that I didn’t think I would see myself using very much before release, but it quickly became one of my favorite tools to use in combat to make life a little bit easier in both firefights and stealth missions. Not all encounters are a walk in the park though. If a job or gig lands you in the wrong side of town and you end up in a firefight with one of the local gangs, you may end up facing higher level NPCs that can take you down very quickly if you aren’t careful.
Character customization in Cyberpunk 2077 is unmatched. The character creator itself can have you trying to make a clone of yourself, or Shrek if you feel so inclined, for hours in itself. Once you get into the actual world, you not only have a host of armor/clothing sets that you find in the world but you can actually turn yourself into a cybernetic super soldier with retractable blades in your forearms with cyberware and modifications. One of my favorite parts of the game is that they give all clothing items, not just military grade armor, defense stats giving you the ability to make V into the most stylish protagonist the gaming world has seen! The choice is really up to you on who V becomes, and I absolutely love that.
To round things out, it’s time to – WITHOUT SPOILERS – talk about the narrative and characters. The story takes a few hours to grab you. There was a major turning point in the story about five hours into my playthrough that had me completely bought in to the rest of the narrative. So if you feel like the game is lacking purpose narratively in the opening hours of the playthrough, give it a little bit of time and you will be rewarded. The characters you meet on the way, whether it be through side jobs or main story missions, are full of very distinct personalities making those moments a joy to go through.
The narrative of the game is structured to truly give the player the ability to approach the story how they want. The most brilliant design options in Cyberpunk is that the game can be a 15-20 hour experience if you just want to playthrough the narrative of the game, or you can get caught up in gigs, side jobs, and the world itself and get a 60-70 in depth experience with the game. Your experiences and how the story shakes out will end up being different, but that’s the beauty of the entire Cyberpunk experience. Your experience and how it plays out, is entirely up to you. That sort of freedom, mixed in with giving players a unique experience based on how they choose to use those freedoms, really makes Cyberpunk 2077 a memorable experience.
Once you get past the technical flaws, Cyberpunk 2077 is an incredible open-world RPG that gives players the freedom to experience the game as they choose. The narrative and characters help draw you in for a wild ride that you don’t want to get off, even after it’s over.