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Gaming Brew: Cyberpunk 2077 – First Impressions

As 2020 comes to a close, the game that people have waited for (and waited for, and waited for) is finally out. We’ve had some fun playing CD Projekt Red’s creation over the last 24 hours or so, so it’s time for our first impressions.

This time we’ve decided to have two different perspectives to see how Cyberpunk 2077 measures up.

  • Sig is a younger, hardcore video gamer, who’s lately focused on PC gaming and played the computer version. He’s never played the original TTRPG, so there’s a lot about this setting (and its context) that’s new to him.
  • Brook is an older, semi-casual video gamer who recently returned to consoles and played the PS4 version. He grew up with the pen and paper Cyberpunk but is still getting used to more complex, action-based video games.

Overall Quality – 3.5 out of 5

Sig: So far, I would say the game is worth it if you’re willing to tolerate potential glitches and somewhat unintuitive gameplay. I’ve had a reasonably smooth experience compared to what other people have reported, and the game is fun even with its rough edges.

It’s definitely one that will need smoothing over in the days to come, given how much you’re required to figure out on your own and the lack of explanation for a majority of the game’s systems. The unpolished gameplay magnifies it all, although it’s hard not to marvel at the detail.

Brook: I agree that the game is fun, but there are a lot of rough edges and bugs that need immediate patching. This game still wasn’t finished even after all those delays; I had multiple glitches (including one that made progression impossible and required reloading an old save) and even a complete crash of the game.

Between those issues and its confusing gameplay, people might want to be prepared for some frustration or simply wait. That being said, I appreciate the scale of the game, the amount you can do, and how the world of Cyberpunk has been brought to life in detail.

Character Creation & Gameplay Mechanics – 3 out of 5

Sig: I found the character creation engine to be pretty detailed. There’s a lot of options given, which was appreciated. For the most part, as a POC gamer, I didn’t feel too put out compared to similar games like Dragon Age Inquisition or Outer Worlds with their more limited choices in terms of style and diversity. The problem is that it’s mostly pointless, considering you can’t see V unless you seek out your home mirror. 

The gameplay mechanics are a lot of fun. However, aside from combat, the game mostly leaves you to figure it out on your own. Thankfully, the game operates similarly to Witcher 3, where there’s no punishment for generalizing or throwing your stats into the wrong perks.

Brook: The fact that you rarely see your character makes the overly-detailed character generation kind of overkill and useless. I do appreciate the diversity, however, in skin tones, hairstyles, features, etc. It’s a shame that that step forward was marred by CD Projekt Red’s choice to tie pronouns to a “masculine” or “feminine” voice, in a substantial snub toward the transgender and non-binary communities.

While the intro provided a simple tutorial on fundamental aspects, like combat, stealth, and hacking, there was still so much they forgot to explain. I had to learn how to jump or climb through trial and error, and combat was often chaotic. Similarly, I often clashed with the first-person perspective and interaction; some environmental objects would block you from items except from certain angles, while others behaved like they didn’t exist.

Graphics & Sound – 4.5 out of 5

Sig: Playing on PC seems to have primarily shielded me from the issues that have befallen so many console players, but it still required quite a bit of tweaking. Given that I’m using an RTX 2080, I still had to adjust my settings and my graphics down to 1440 to get the game to run smoothly. Other than that, it’s a beautiful game, and it’s enjoyable just to sit back and soak up the atmosphere (or dodge a hail of bullets, but I digress.)

The sound quality has been no issue for me. I’ve been able to just enjoy driving around in my car and listening to the radio. Also, the voice acting has been of a high caliber and holds up to The Witcher 3.

Brook: I love the graphics and sound – this was the only part that I think they fully completed. When you play, it’s like seeing the Night City of my youth all around you, from the dirty concrete to the neon signs. You might need to adjust your contrast slightly, as some locations are dark and hard to see, but that’s more a feature than a bug. I’ve also heard about problems with epileptic sensitivity, but I haven’t encountered them yet as a minor epileptic myself.

The music is no different, bringing to life Retro-Electronica of the past mixed with modern Hip-Hop and Rock. This experience is Cyberpunk at its finest, and it immerses you in the city. My only complaint about the voice-acting is the background NPCs seem to have randomly assigned voices and sayings that don’t always fit their demeanors or actions.

Also, kudos to having many things subtitled so this game is accessible for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing.

Story & Context – 4 out of 5

Sig: The story and setting are pitch-perfect in capturing the peak of cyberpunk as a genre. The film noir Maltese Falcon aesthetic fits well with the main tale that the game is telling. Overall, I would say that CD Projekt Red did a great job creating a holistic world that makes you want to keep digging to see what lies beneath the surface.

On the other hand, the game doesn’t do much to expand upon the exoticism of BIPOC characters. They exist, but aside from the broader aspect of how cyberpunk critiques society, it doesn’t delve too deep into how this experience works for BIPOC figures beyond what’s presumably in the backstory created by the tabletop RPG.

Brook: The story is interesting, so far – a stereotypical Cyberpunk trope of clawing your way up from the streets. Like Pondsmith’s work, the world itself is diverse with a nice mix of representation; at least, as much as can be expected when everyone is blended in a classist dystopia. While people are lumped together on the streets of Night City, there are subtle nods in radio shows, news stations, etc., to contemporary issues, including the militarization of police and oppression of BIPOC.

If there’s any major issue (that requires more in-depth discussion), it’s sexuality and gender identity. As mentioned, the game has failed in consideration for the transgender and enby communities. On top of this, while sex is a common theme in the cyberpunk genre, it’s overdone in this game.

Seriously – we don’t need to find studded dildos just randomly laying around everywhere.

Regardless of the flaws it has, Cyberpunk 2077 is undeniably an ambitious game. Even when it doesn’t necessarily turn the corner the way you like, it’s hard not to appreciate the effort. We’re hoping that with time, updates, and with a little more clarity on what the team has in store, there will be more to say about the game’s positives.

It’s also a shame that, for all of its progressive warning of the world-to-come, CD Projekt Red completely ignored a whole section of society. I love the relevance and representation present but cannot forget how the game doubled-down on its treatment of transgender and enby people.

While the game isn’t necessarily perfect from top-to-bottom and has flaws that can (and cannot) be fixed, we’re still ready to see more of Night City.

We score Cyberpunk 2077 at 3.75 out of 5, with the hopes that future updates will solve many of its bugs and glitches.

About Brook H. (253 Articles)
Generalist, polymath, jack-of-all-trades... Brook has degrees in Human Behavior and Psychology and has majored in everything from computers to business. He's worked a variety of jobs, including theater, security, emergency communications, and human services. He currently resides outside Baltimore where he tries to balance children, local politics, hobbies, and work. Brook is HoH and a major Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing advocate, a lifelong gamer (from table-top to computer), loves everything paranormal, and is a Horror-movie buff.

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