While seminal cyberpunk works like Blade Runner, Neuromancer, and Ghost in the Shell are incredibly important for Sci-Fi throughout the pop culture stratosphere, most entries in the subgenre depict their worlds as bleak, dilapidated, and despondent. This makes sense considering the AI uprisings often experienced in these narratives, but still can leave one with a simple feeling of “been there, done that” syndrome.
Luckily, one game looks to be changing all that. Finally unveiled just recently at the end of Microsoft’s E3 2018 press conference, CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, despite its name, looks to be opting for an abnormally positive tone. We see our main character actually enjoy being in this world of cybernetic enhancements and augments, rather than gloomily complaining about the ramifications for such technologies existing. This isn’t some cliched detective tale where you’re running down deviant androids – at least so far.
This enthusiasm is backed up further by notably vibrant colour palette and art style. It doesn’t look too dissimilar to the recently-revealed Rage 2 in this regard – itself a colourful representation of a ruined future. While such change in direction to Cyberpunk might be surprising to some, it makes sense considering this is a world you’ll spend at least 60 hours in. More if Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is anything to go by. After all, a moody atmosphere will only take you so far.
Despite these changes, all the major cyberpunk staples seem to still be there. The trailer opens with a mocked-up hacking sequence whereby it’s revealed after a flurry of glitches and technical hiccups. We see NPCs pillaging an android for their spare parts, as well as a robotic woman rolling her eyelashes while her lower jaw component is missing. The game feels so authentic simply because it commits to these concepts being the norm. It’s not unusual or even the centrepiece that so many other examples of cyberpunk fiction would feel the need to make it.
Of course, it’s still early days for the highly-anticipated open world game. There’s not even a release date we can point to, but it did look in really good shape. Here’s hoping that when Cyberpunk 2077 does release on PS4 and Xbox One, it will live up to its initial promise of doing things differently with the 80s-inspired genre and make for a new style of cyberpunk fiction.