When the credits rolled on my playthrough of Cyberpunk 2077, I’d spent 45 or so hours in Night City. Having received the code only three days before the review embargo, I seriously doubted I’d finish in time. However, forgoing sleep and playing up to 18-hours a day, I saw V’s journey through to its conclusion.
That being said, to get there, I had to focus on the main story missions almost exclusively. I dabbled with side content early on, but once it became clear just how big Cyberpunk 2077 is, I honed in on the golden path.
As such, in writing this review, I struggled with the notion of scoring the game. If I’d put 45-hours into almost any other game, I’d be more than happy to attach a score. But with Cyberpunk 2077, I was concerned I’d not seen and done enough. However, after 45-hours, the way I feel about Cyberpunk 2077 is unlikely to change no matter how much more I play.
Frankly, Cyberpunk 2077 is the best video game I’ve ever played. And with so much more content to enjoy, I can’t imagine my opinion being negatively impacted.
Cyberpunk 2077 Review
It’s difficult to quantify just how good Cyberpunk 2077 is. It’s like trying to tell someone you’ve discovered the world’s best cheeseburger. We all know what a cheeseburger tastes like and, for the most part, they’re all fairly similar. But sometimes, a special, magical combination of ingredients comes together in a way that has to be experienced to be believed and understood. Cyberpunk 2077 is like that. It’s an open-world, first-person RPG with hacking but it’s also so much more. It’s a sublime experience from the moment it begins to the end of the (35+ minute) credits. No matter what kind of gamer you are and how you like to play, Cyberpunk 2077 caters to you.
Playing as mercenary V, players are dropped into the fictional Night City and let loose. V’s personality, skills and class are all shaped and developed by the player while playing. And they’re never locked in to one specific thing. Are you a gung-ho, guns blazing, wise-cracking arsehole? Cyberpunk’s got you covered. Do you prefer to sneak up on your enemies and stay tight-lipped? You’re covered too.
Do you want to tackle each and every situation, conversation, mission, combat scenario and traversal across Night City based on how you feel at any given moment? Well, that’s also an option. The freedom to play how you want and be who you want in Cyberpunk 2077 is nothing short of breathtaking and the fact it affords players this level of freedom while delivering a seamless, fluid and engaging experience is mind-blowing. Many games buckle under the weight of their own ambition, but Cyberpunk 2077 avoids this pitfall and instead, creates an experience which is never less than completely dictated by the player’s whims.
Freedom isn’t just a core pillar of Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay, it’s a fundamental theme. In this universe, freedom is hypothetical and the only true freedom for regular folks is the expression of individuality. Another pillar, central to Cyberpunk 2077’s ethos. Both freedom and individuality are concepts we, in the first-world, take for granted. In Cyberpunk, both through story and gameplay, CD Projekt Red explores the ideas of freedom and the individual with a depth and nuance rarely seen in video games. And while the veneer of this world might be all cybernetic enhancements, dildos, over-the-top sexualisation and violence, there’s so much more under the surface. Cyberpunk 2077 has a rare depth to its storytelling — underpinned by the gameplay — such that revealing anything more than CD Projekt Red already has would be a spoiler.
Rest assured, the narrative is the best thing about this game. Alongside the gameplay, roleplaying and universe it takes place in.
When it comes to gameplay, even though Cyberpunk is an RPG, it feels and plays like a shooter a lot of the time. Maybe not the best first-person shooters and certainly not as fluid and fast as DOOM or Call of Duty but leaps and bounds ahead of anything else in the FPS/RPG space. Cyberpunk has an overall slower pace than your average FPS which supports the game’s combat. Shooting is only one facet of combat with stealth and hacking also playing a big role; if you want them to.
Focusing solely on the shooting mechanics for a moment though, Cyberpunk 2077 has enough chops for players to play it like a straight shooter if they wanted to. Fallout shooting this ain’t. Instead, movement and aiming are fluid and weighty and rather than wrestling with the on-screen reticule, in Cyberpunk, it rarely (if ever) feels as though control a beast which must be tamed. For players who’ve worried the shooting wouldn’t be worth it, worry no longer. It’s shockingly good and only improves as you discover more weapons, unlock more skills and perks and start shaping your V to your liking.
Once you start unlocking new weapon types and cybernetic enhancements, Cyberpunk takes things to a whole other level. I played stealthily for a large part of my playthrough and focused on weapons, perks and upgrades that would serve me well. I used silenced weapons and blades, equipped hacking software that could blind enemies and kill them from afar and stacked upgrade points into perks which made me even more deadly when I was unseen. I also found some insane Tech weapons which were ridiculously good fun to use, so I also gave V complimentary equipment which meant I could transition from stealth to all-out assault and back again without missing a beat. Like everything else in Cyberpunk 2077, the level of customisation and freedom players have with their loadouts is next-level and something I’ve only scratched the surface of.
To get the most out of this game. To see everything it has to offer and to experience all the gameplay options it dishes out, players are simply going to have to play it multiple times. There’s just no way to see and do everything in just one. But when a game is as good as this one, multiple playthrough’s are a blessing rather than a chore. It also helps that there are multiple endings and a variety of ways to complete missions too all of which can and will change how you and V experience Night City.
Tonally, Cyberpunk 2077 is Poochie.
It’s loud, bright, brash and in your face but unlike Poochie, Cyberpunk is all those things ironically. Created long before social media, Cyberpunk was ahead of its time. In this universe, looking and being cool is very important and being “somebody” is even more so. People in Night City are motivated by greed, lust, envy and pride. It’s more important to appear a certain way than it is to actually be it. Essentially, everyone is a wannabe Instagram influencer, but instead of curating photos, they’re curating themselves. By augmenting their bodies in an effort to be different and to stand out, the population has embraced a new collective. When everybody is unique, nobody is unique and the corps who own and control everything rely on this fact to stay wealthy and keep everyone else poor.
Cyberpunk 2077 makes a statement about our current world, skewed through an insane, drug, sex and tech fulled lens. It says that when people put more stock in what strangers think of outward-facing things, like appearance, the only ones who benefit are those who profit from human insecurities. True happiness comes from embracing oneself and letting go of shallow concerns. It’s a lesson V comes up against time and again during the course of the game and one that can be learned from or ignored.
It goes hand-in-hand with the notion of individualism and the difference between being a true individual or losing yourself to the crowd, to a lover or to the idea of something more than yourself.
Reviews can often be breeding grounds for hyperbole and at the beginning of this one I said Cyberpunk 2077 was the best game I’ve ever played.
It is and I stand by that statement. And while I’ve attached a score and don’t believe my feelings will be negatively impacted by playing more, if they are, the score is provisional and subject to change.
While it’s not perfect, fingers crossed for the day one patch to squash those pesky bugs, it succeeds far more often than not. And even that which is less successful, it’s not something you’d consider a failure, rather a facet of the game which is a little less of a triumph than others. Where combat is exceptional, driving is just ok for instance. That being said, cruising through Night City on a motorcycle in first-person, listening to electronic tunes and taking in the sights is awe-inspiring.
In Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red has created a phenomenal tour de force and a game that’s unlikely to be matched anytime soon. It is an important game and one that demands to be played.
Cyberpunk 2077 was reviewed on PC using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Provisional score, may be subject to change.