Most modern video game enthusiasts are too young to remember the days of tabletop role playing games. Long before the Unreal Engine, video games were pretty limited in terms of form factor. For a detailed role playing experience there was only one option; get together with a group of friends, and follow a scripted, decision based guideline, by assuming the character role of your choice, and venturing into an imaginative theme based concept. The obvious example would be Dungeons & Dragons, which had a massive following of avid participants; even to this day. A few others gained popularity, but one other stood out among the crowd. Created by Mike Pondsmith, and published in 1988 by R. Talsorian Games; Cyberpunk 2020 is a massive contrast to D&D. Based in (at the time) the far future; this tabletop rpg was gritty, violent, and overall pretty explicit. Based in the fictional mecca known as “Night City,” this concept has all the makings of a Grand Theft Auto title, with a lot more neon, sci-fi weaponry, and that 1980’s action film mood, which is hard to recreate in an original way. The setting is a smog asphyxiated city, riddled with record breaking crime rates, and a massive balance tilt in the socioeconomic status quo. Corporate giants who pull the strings, are the minority, who reside in towers far above the hell below, and the remaining inhabitants are the dregs who scratch at the poverty level to hopelessly attempt to rise above.
Though popularity has dwindled, and tabletop role playing games have lost momentum; A large enough fan base remains to facilitate a decade long development of the platformer reboot. From CD Projekt Red (The Witcher 3) comes an incredible rendering of the dark, neon laden Night City based half a century after the original concept. Enter “Cyberpunk 2077.” Graphical detail beyond what any modern game studios have been working on in recent times;the final cut has not yet been announced. The first news of its conception was back in 2012, and only very recently has CDPR released gameplay footage, which of course is subject to change. After viewing the 48 minute walkthrough on the games Youtube page, truly I can say this game is going to set the bar far higher than any title in recent history. Fully immersive first person, and beyond a simple customization base. From the very beginning, your choices affect every facet of the gameplay. Choose a male, or female lead character, and build their physical form with precision detail, and in astoundingly realistic high definition. After deciding your attribute balance, you become “V.” A skilled mercenary of sorts, who’s as cynical as he/she is dangerous. There’s no need for classing, or skill trees at first, because as with everything else, your class will shift as you continue forward in the game. There is no abundance of emphasis I can place on the choice, and customization factor. It seems to be endless, and if i’m not entirely mistaken, the game itself seems to have an A.I presence that learns the way you play the game. Every article of clothing, tattoo, hair style, weapon, and cybernetic enhancement will unlock possibilities, and more choices to make, which opens more, etc. Meaning that with the continued development of this masterpiece the evolution of your character could be almost literally an endless tree of decisions, and cause/effect transitions in the story itself. Delivering a breathtaking rpg experience unlike any other you’ve ever had.
Some of the more defining aspects of the game, are what make it true to the original tabletop predecessor. To begin with, the mood of the surroundings are exactly what you’d hope for. Dark, depreciated, and almost abandoned at times, then around the corner could be a brightly neon lit crowd of excitement, and/or violence, overlaid with fast paced techno melodies. The unapologetic content of dialog, nudity, and drug use is paramount to keeping the spirit of Cyberpunk intact, and CDPR delivers in this endeavor on a disgustingly beautiful scale. Your first merc mission leads you into the den of a gang of kidnappers who harvest cybernetic implants from their targets. When you finally reach your barely breathing target, she’s completely nude, from head to toe. Even her eye sockets are empty! The camera rests snugly on her shockingly realistic breasts for a solid minute, while you administer a stabilizer of sorts, and assess the damage while calling in medical evac. All the while, your demeanor is lax, and your vocabulary remains that of a biker on a pirate ship. Exactly as it should be, and with no room for niceties. This goes without saying that you shouldn’t expect the less invasive atmosphere of The Witcher when delving into this (sure to be rated “R”) title.
A part of the in-game customization, and character evolution that will be a hit is the cybernetic enhancements you can have “installed” to your character. They range in use, and style widely, but are always a great way to further your progress, and deadliness. To have yourself reconstructed you go see a “Ripperdoc,” like you would a tattoo artist. Though, most cybernetic surgeries are illegal to perform, you’ll find a few under-the-table surgeons willing to enhance you for a price. Usually, in video games when you go to change a customization, you’re prompted with a menu interface, and options. Not in this case, (At least, not that iv’e seen) where the doc reassures you that it’s not going to hurt badly, and calm talks you before raising a metal gadget to your face, and *pluck!* the screen goes dark for a moment, while the ambiance, and chatter continue. Thereafter, you come back to vision, and nothing seems different, except the HUD, and your eyes physical appearance is eerily canine-like. I didn’t get to witness much more of that aspect, but i’m riveted to see how the rest of the enhancements play out.
To say that the development of this game is a great thing would be a massive understatement. From the tabletop to the flat-screen, this classic game will send chills down your spine within the first few minutes of gameplay. The detail, and beauty of this project is going to change the way role playing games are built. With no doubt in my mind, it’s originality, and expansive interaction are unmatched. Simultaneously, it remains true to the 1988 classic, and brings life to a dice roller that no one ever seen coming. Keep your ears, and eyes open for it’s release, because it’s going to be something to behold. Be sure to pre-order, so you miss the sure to be empty shelves, and if you’re as excited as I am for the release, then i’ll see you in the line for pre-release!