Last Updated on August 23, 2023 by Talha Amjad
Cyberpunk 2077 is the most awaited game of 2020, and it has been years in the making, but it is finally here. There have been some bugs and glitches, and the game does not perform well on PS4 and Xbox One. Then again, this next-generation game should not have been released on these older consoles. Here is our review of Cyberpunk 2077.
Cyberpunk 2077 Review
Whether it’s day or night, even with the neon signs always glowing your path, Night City is filled with dread at every corner. I ignored the game’s instructions and walked towards a building, where I could hear punk music and some thugs shouting at each other. It felt familiar like many open-world games, but something was slightly different here. Using my focus, I scanned and “breached” one of the cameras, and then “Pinged” it, identifying everyone near it. My screen highlighted enemies talking and walking, unaware of my presence, and electronic devices near them. I scanned one of the enemies and realized that my options were quite limited, and I did not have enough “RAM” to manipulate his cyberware to my advantage. Without raising any alarm, I decided to walk away.
I checked my inventory and found I had sufficient funds to make some useful purchases. I ran towards the nearest fast travel point and fast-traveled to a ripper doc available at a central location. He was rude, and not really helpful, but who cares, he had the wares I needed. I replaced it with the basic OS and installed an upgraded Cyberdeck. It instantly gave me 10 Rams and about 7 mod slots. I had sufficient eddies and experience, so I chose to add some additional mods.
It was time to check back on those goons again. They were right where I had left them, but this time when I scanned, they had switched their places and were rather scattered. Before entering their location, I decided to look around a bit, and what do you know?! I found another gang ridiculing a poor citizen in a back alley. I decided to keep my chores quiet and avoid any rackets. With my smart sniper equipped, I “Breached” one of the goons, lowering his defenses this time.
Then I rebooted his optics; he went blind. Before he could panic, I grabbed him and snapped his neck. I moved ahead, fried another goon’s cyberwar, and burned another one’s eyes. While they were confused, I tracked another one’s head and blew it off with a single shot of my rare but powerful smart sniper. Before others could alert, I snapped at them with another cyber attack, this time frying their optics with a burn effect, and knocking them out. The bandits in the alley did not even know that their friends were disposed of, and I simply explored the area and looted what I could find.
A cop thanked me for making a clean getaway. It was a win-win situation. Night City felt safer even wrapped under its darkening sky, but it was a lie and I knew it.
A Never-Ending Story
So many stories in Night City start just like a routine mission, but become something else based on your actions. The experience I just shared is only one of the many side gigs; one of hundreds this game offers. The experience is so immersive that you forget what you really wanted to do in the first place. And once you get the idea behind the core loop of this game, it is too late to turn back.
While I decided to tackle the enemies with stealth and hacks, there are many instances where your sheer will to empower others lets you burn goons with your trusty weapons, adding thermal damage while bullets shred through their wares. The effects on limbs, and the response of enemies, and the countermeasures were taken by the enemies, is a sight to behold and makes every encounter a unique experience.
Cyberpunk 2077 is an enriching experience. But only if you keep yourself glued to an almost never-ending cycle of side missions and gigs. The core story is a short experience, but it is not why you want to buy and play this game. I have already spent 30+ hours in the game and have not even started with the main prologue mission, the one about the infamous Johnny Silverhand. The story does end, the game does end, but only if you choose to follow the linear path highlighted by the yellow lines. I say, stop following the directions and carve your own path.
The Beginning is the End
Let me put the core disappointment out first, as there are so many great things overshadowed under a hollow marketing stunt done by CDPR. The lifepaths are not a big deal. No matter who you start, you will eventually end up with Jackie Welles and a naked lady you must save. The intro sequence might feel as if it will make some good difference, but unfortunately, it only reflects some dialogue choices and minor story changes that do not really affect the overall experience. Whether I was a Street Kid, or a Nomad, or a confident Corpo, I was eventually who I wanted to be, and none of the choices I made at the start of the game really mattered. It felt disappointing because the marketing by CDPR made these choices relevant. However, Night City had its own plans, and those plans happen no matter how much you choose to delay them. It is inevitable.
However, with that out of our way, the game itself is engrossed with multitudes of characters, paths, and choices, and even though your actions don’t really change the city, Night City does change you.
The Not-RPG RPG
Marketed as Adventure Role Playing Game, CDPR once again missed its actual mark. The game may have multiple choices of dialogues, customizations, and weapons; and even gets you to earn experience points like most RPGs nowadays, it still does not really give you sufficient choices to define itself as an RPG. If you sneak a lot, it does not give you the preferred experience of your playstyle; it gives you further options to tweak yourself more and create further choices, without affecting your core basic skills of stealth. I have invested almost nothing on COOL (the core feature for stealth), and I can still master most of it by investing all the stealth-based points on hacking and technical abilities. Instead of enhancing my options to hide better, the game gives me options to affect the detection abilities of enemies or take them away entirely.
Actions like clearing up goons and bandits in different parts of the city, also do not affect anything else apart from the status change of that certain gig. The behavior of police and bandits remains the same, even if you have saved any of the bandits or have saved some cop. I love my experience in Night City, but these little aspects leave me wanting a lot more, as I am not getting what I was marketed. This is one of the core reasons for disappointment in an otherwise masterpiece (almost).
The Grind, The Loot, and The Glitches
Once you get the hang of the core gameplay loop, you will be affixed to it for hours without getting bored. But eventually, you will face either one of these, irrespective of your playstyle or story path:
The Tiresome Grind You want a new upgrade? Too bad it requires you to reach a certain number of levels. Have you finally got the required level? Well, now you gotta earn the Eddies! But there are so many options to choose from, and only enough funds to choose a few.
The game has a robust economy, but unfortunately not many options to earn better. Your gigs and your loot will hardly be enough if you prefer to invest in yourself. You might win every battle because of your skill (and sometimes dumb AI), but you will not experience the many choices that only originate if you grind and choose to spend lots of money on yourself (Yes, do not pay back that Ripper Doc).
The Trash Loot There are many types of weapons and gears in the game. You can either loot them, or you can craft them. Looting is easier considering you don’t have to pay anything for them. But unfortunately, you will have two weird options to deal with them.
Most of the loot is a lot similar to one another, with slight changes in their DPS, and most of it simply becomes monotonous.
If you dress to kill, you will look ugly. If you dress to impress, you will die ugly.
One of the weakest elements of the game is the lack of options to wear a better-looking outfit, without killing your stats. Right now, my V looks like a dumpster hooker wearing a helmet. Not the choice I would have made if I had better flexibility.
The plethora of weapons become useless once you find some powerful epic gear. I wish there was an option to mark junk and sell/dismantle them with a single click.
The Game-Breaking Glitch By the time I wrote this review, the game had Hotfix 1.06, and I had spent 30 hours in it. Ever since this patch, I have not really faced a game-breaking bug. But I must warn you, you will eventually face one, and it will most likely crash your game or make a mission unplayable.
So save often, and create multiple save files. Press F5 whenever you are not in combat (if you are playing on PC).
If you can let these looming shadows stay behind, you will eventually find a highly addictive game, covered in dirt but with lots of options to clean it up.
Patch to the Future
Cyberpunk 2077 pledges lots of promises, gives numerous hopes, and sustains only a few of them at the current stage. But it will eventually reach a point when we can say that it has become what it was destined to be; The New Crysis, The Benchmark for PC Gamers, The path every game will supposedly follow to be labeled as a true next-gen experience.
But all of this will take lots of patches and buggy sacrifices. This is one of the main reasons I believe most of us should wait till March before they should buy this game. If your regional price tag is above 50 US Dollars, it is not worth your money at this stage. I got this game for 30 bucks because of regional pricing, and while I believe that it is a sufficient price for the current version, I would have eventually refunded as well if it was even 5 bucks more than this.
The Electric Dream Might Not Be True
You want to experience this game without flaws; you have to run it with sheer brute force under your hood. It runs remarkably well on High-end PCs, a computer that can literally chew your annual paycheque right from the bat. If you happen to play on a mid-range PC as I did, you will have to use lots of tweaks, prayers, and low settings to achieve a sustainable frame rate. While the game does look gorgeous on everything set to high even without Ray Tracing enabled, it runs under 10 frames for most parts, making it more like a nightmare than a dream coming true.
If you want to play the game in all its glory, upgrade. If you can’t upgrade, I would suggest that you wait. It might not be worth your bucks if the game looks like a PS3 game for you even though you just played Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on everything set to max and frames higher than 60. CDPR’s requirements table is not reliable at the current status.
The Unfaithful Lover
CDPR was the poster child for customer-centric companies. But Cyberpunk 2077 made us doubt their love for the community that has supported them for years and us. Is it because CDPR should not have committed anything outside The Witcher franchise? Is it because CDPR had committed a lot more than they could swallow?
Yes, to both. And these are enough reasons to forgive their mistake, for the love they have earned from us goes beyond the mere glitches and bugs, which we know, will be fixed in due time. We pushed them in the corner and made them release a game in fear of yet another delay, and now we have come to realize that perhaps another delay of four months would not have led to a breakup, in this long-standing relationship.
I am willing to forgive them, I have invested enough time in Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City to have my claim of refund revoked forever. I have to own it, and I have to keep playing.
Regina was calling again. Wish in this year 2077, we still had the option to deny a call, or turn off the phone, like back in 2020. She told me about yet another gig, similar in design, but I know I could make it different in execution. Besides, the lore and shards I will uncover would be worth my time.
The night wasn’t over. The quest indicator told me that Jackie was waiting for me at Afterlife. Regina wanted me to rescue a ripper doc. I still had to pay back my doc’s 20,000 eddies. Radio jammed a familiar tune, upbeat and synth-like. I decided to ignore everyone and started to drive, in hopes that I will bump into yet another secret of Night City and one of its many colorful characters. I was not willing to wake up from this dream; this life still had so much potential, and real life can wait.