Review: Cyberpunk 2077 is a heavily-flawed masterpiece of storytelling

Cyberpunk promotional poster. (Courtesy of https://www.cyberpunk.net/ca/en/)

Since its release on December 10, it was clear Cyberpunk 2077 was never going to live up to the gargantuan level of hype it received, regardless of how good the final product was. Despite all of the enjoyment I’ve received from this game, I’d be careless if I didn’t address its flaws and all of the unfulfilled promises made by the developers at CD Projekt RED (CDPR).

Since Cyberpunk 2077 is a role-playing experience at heart, one of its central purposes is to immerse the player into embodying a fictional character and gradually witnessing their characterization through player-choices and constructive decision making. Unfortunately, the game falls flat in that aspect. 

However, before we get down to the nitty-gritty of Cyberpunk 2077’s blunders, I want to start this review on a positive note, considering there are many aspects of this game I thoroughly enjoyed, and moments that still reside with me.  

The narrative of Cyberpunk 2077 is an experience driven solely by its interactive side characters that you meet through progressing the campaign — each of them with their own individual storyline that is further expanded upon with every mission. These heavily story-driven side objectives are popularly considered the best aspect of Cyberpunk 2077

Throughout most of my playthroughs, the bulk of my appreciation was for the slow, dialogue-driven, character-defining adventures I embarked on with these characters. Coupled with some terrific voice acting and realistic facial animations, they were less like digital puppets and more like virtual companions. 

Having played through the entire campaign as a male character called V (your name is also ‘V’ if you decide to play a female character) customized to my liking, the option to romance characters is open to the player, but not necessarily required. This is something games such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — CDPR’s previous title — fail to accomplish. 

The game also features one of the best video game NPCs (non-playable characters) of the generation: Panam Palmer — a nomad whose charismatic, and sometimes dramatic personality, develops into a potential romantic relationship with the male protagonist. Proceeding with this romance or simply developing a close bond to Panam can also unlock the game’s most satisfying ending. 

It would be an understatement to say that Cyberpunk 2077 has some of the most memorable characters in any video game — at least from my perspective.

For second-year childhood and youth studies student Abinash Subeskaran agrees that CyberPunk 2077 hits a lot of the marks, and acknowledges that he believes the game will survive the test of time. “Cyberpunk 2077 is a great title that will definitely age well,” he says.

Panam Palmer. (Courtesy of Forbes via CDPR)

The overall length of Cyberpunk 2077’s single-player campaign had been drastically reduced due to CDPR reports indicating that nearly half of the Witcher 3 fanbase had barely reached the end credits. Considering the consistent high quality of the side missions and tons of rewarding open world exploration, I’m glad they chose to focus more on those aspects rather than pointlessly stretching out the main campaign.

“The feeling of being there, of walking the streets of the future, is really going to be breathtaking,” Keanu Reeves said at E3 2019. Well, he wasn’t wrong.

Night City is beautiful, vibrant, and jam-packed with all of the futuristic infrastructure you’d expect from the year 2077. Never before has an open world made me feel like such an insignificant insect, overshadowed by the many factions of a dystopian future, where corporations control life, death, and everything in between.

Night City promotional poster. (Courtesy of https://www.cyberpunk.net/ca/en/)

In terms of delivering solid RPG (role-playing game) mechanics as mentioned at the start, Cyberpunk 2077 is lacking, as dialogue choices have little-to-no actual in-game consequences — often giving the illusion of choice to its players and baiting them into thinking every convenient decision has actual meaning in the long run. 

Sharing in my disappointment is second-year kinesiology student Kamilah Bhaurichi. “I play a lot of RPGs and open-world games and Cyberpunk 2077 was by far the most disappointing. But the game has a ton of potential with its intriguing storyline and multiple customization settings,” she says. 

Now we reach the crux of the problem. Cyberpunk 2077 at its current state is a broken mess, with the game crashing several times during my playthrough on a PlayStation 5, and struggling to maintain a stable framerate, causing issues with lag and stuttering. From the utterly broken pedestrian and police AI that randomly spawn in from thin air, to the random texture pop-ins that appear during key story moments, the game also has several mission bugs that require a checkpoint restart to continue. 

It’s significant and noticeable issues like these that further break immersion as we realize that this was not the game CDPR promised us eight years ago. 

The game was released to excessive amounts of backlash from the gaming community, forcing PlayStation to de-list the game from their online store, and driving CDPR to issue a public apology in hopes of maintaining their player base. 

What’s especially hurtful about this situation is that beneath all of these issues, Cyberpunk 2077 truly is a remarkable piece of storytelling that’s currently overshadowed by its technically messy state.

After waiting on the next big patches and updates that help to improve the gaming experience, I genuinely hope that this is the beginning of a redemption arc for Cyberpunk 2077 and its developers over at CDPR. I look forward to returning to the crime-ridden streets of Night City in the near-future.

About the Author

Avatar

By Jerome Jones

Contributor

Interested in becoming a contributor? Check out our Get Involved Page

Topics

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments