Despite all the negative publicity, evidence to the contrary, and advice from every media outlet and gamer in existence, I sought to play through all of Cyberpunk 2077 on PS4. No, not the Pro version, the base console version, which is quite frankly the most frustrating way to play the game. And after 75 hours of gaming — 15 of which I had lost due to game-breaking bugs, glitches, and resets — I have to say Cyberpunk 2077 is a lot of fun and definitely a revolutionary RPG. That is of course, when I could actually play it, and wasn’t creating my 10th manual save file out of fear of the game crashing.
Developed by CD Projekt Red, Cyberpunk 2077 is likely going to be this year’s biggest flop. And I say this not only because it was completely removed from Sony’s PS store, but because it also caused people seizures and effectively toxified just about everything about video game journalism. Released on December 10th for PS5, Xbox Series X, Stadia, and PC, the game was also, unfortunately, released on both Xbox One and PS4 where it’s incredibly broken. Still, I choose to beat it anyway, and so below is my honest review of Cyberpunk 2077 on PS4.
What Is Cyberpunk 2077?
Like Dungeons & Dragons, Cyberpunk originally started out as a popular tabletop RPG created by game designer Mike Pondsmith. Inspired by science fiction works of the 1980’s such as the movie Blade Runner and the 80s classic Hardwired, Cyberpunk was a sci-fi subculture that combined delinquent criminals with futuristic technology. It’s set in the futuristic Night City, a crime-ridden yet high tech city-state run by corporations gone awry in a ruined world ravaged by both militarized and economic warfare. Coinciding with this was the rise of a world operating on networked technology — though not the internet we know of which was ravaged by malware — but a world divided into individualized subnets.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a dystopian future of a world filled with technological abusers. One where WiFi connects to everything, virtual and augmented reality exists at the blink of a cybernetic eye, and the mind and the internet are often seen as one and the same. It’s a realm of endless possibility that strips apart the basis of what it means to be human. When technology advances beyond the point of Arthur C. Clarke’s third law: where science becomes indistinguishable from magic.
In Cyberpunk 2077, you start as a customizable character named V. A person whose appearance, and for some obsessive reason genitalia and breasts, you can customize how you see fit and then rarely see ever again. V grew up in the world of Cyberpunk 2077, and depending on your chosen life path — Corpo, Streetkid, or Nomad — you’ll actually get to see how your backstory plays out in the prologue.
Having played all three prologues, I will say each choice is an entertaining origin story. However, despite your chosen life path, most of the options unlocked in-game remain the same. The only difference is that your backstory grants a unique perspective. Corpos know a lot about company bureaucracy and protocol. Nomads know a lot about survival on the road. Streetkids, what it’s like to hustle in Night City. Honestly, the only noticeable difference about the prologue is the different origin stories as to how you meet Jackie, your inevitable best friend in Night City.
Now, while the 3 life paths don’t dictate much of anything in the game, they do correlate to the game’s main three plotlines in act 2 of Cyberpunk 2077. It’s an amazing design choice that every outlet I’ve read has overlooked. Without spoilers, I’ll say the Arasaka route involves a look into the Corpro world; Judy’s netrunning quests take a gritty look at the Night City streets; and of course, Panam’s quests lead toward the introduction to her Nomadic family. All for a thin slice of life of Night City and its various criminal underbellies. Though it’s really the break into act 2 where the stakes get raised with the introduction of Keanu Reeves himself as Johnny Silverhand.
Johnny ‘Keanu’ Silverhand
An anti-establishment rockstar and larger than life legend in Cyberpunk who, above all else, seeks not to save the world but rather burn it to the ground along with the Arasaka corporation. With the introduction of Johnny, the two of you end up working against the highest stakes imaginable in a battle of life and death over the net. It’s a slow burn at first, though the game does a fantastic job with the writing. Johnny comes off as a shallow narcissist and failed anti-hero, a person filled with bombastic pontifications known for little more than flying too close to the sun. Keanu brings a lot of style to the role as his reactions and social commentary either serve as foil or influence upon V, depending on your character’s choices.
Outside of the V storyline, Night City itself is pretty immersive when it renders properly. Rich in details like alleyways and infrastructure for such a massive city. Cyberpunk takes a more civil approach to combat, in that instead of random encounters, you’ll mostly be able to isolate combat incidents into quests. All of which greatly vary. For example, I’d never thought I’d be friends with my car’s AI before, let alone go on a hunt to find its various car children. I also absolutely adored seeing what happens when a hipster grows old and refuses to let go of being a hipster obsessed with bands from 50 years ago. I will say, though, the game’s questlines can get incredibly taboo, particularly on one side questline investigating a snuff pornography ring.
That said, side quests are really inessential in this game. The only exception I’d say you should delve into is completing some character side quests such as Johnny’s, Panam’s, and Judy’s. In fact, I honestly loved both Panam, and from what I’ve seen, Judy’s extended storylines, as I think both are well written and make a big difference in the game’s multiple endings if you choose to go down their questlines. That said, this game is surprisingly lacking in romantic options compared to games like The Witcher 3. In fact, a lot of these romances are locked both by gender identity and tone.
The reason I bring it up is that the game sold itself as trying to be gender and sexually fluid (why else make customizable genitalia?), but I found it utterly failing in that regard. Because your romantic options are locked down by gender choice, and oddly gender voice, and is ignorantly rather gender binary. To be honest, Fallout 4 had better romantic options because I could at least romance whomever I wanted regardless of personal gender identity. Why this game chooses to steer into gender politics and then shoots itself in the mouth by limiting romance options according to gender body and voice choice is beyond me.
Okay… But How Does Cyberpunk Play?
I actually really like many of the core mechanics of Cyberpunk 2077. The game’s attribute system is fascinating, as the more activities you do in the world, the more you unlock within that skill tree. Crafting items increases your crafting XP, hiding bodies boosts stealth, and running boosts athletic ability. The more your skills level up, the more perks you unlock, though I will stress that everyone should specialize in either a reflex or body attribute as those grant you an additional 20 perk points, which you can then use anywhere. It’s the only game I’ve ever played where becoming a better engineer can somehow make me a better samurai via video game logic.
As for the mission map itself, the city is loaded with jobs for V to undertake. Everything from helping the police to robbing artifacts, finding unique weapons, and even finding weapons caches. Finishing missions builds up your street cred, which in turn allows for better items in shops and more public notoriety. Still, quests can get incredibly annoying as eventually, the game spams both your phone and quest inventory. It doesn’t take much for your quest list to become overwhelming to keep track of, though thankfully, most quests are on infinite timers. The exception being some Panam quests (which is a bug they’ll likely fix).
Likewise, much like questlines, inventory management in this one is bloated. You can sort by different categories though it’s still also overwhelming as the lists can run unnecessarily long, which can slow down and even break your game. As a shooter, this game is more akin to Fallout than Destiny. It’s not really a tactical shooter, and soon into the game, you can start builds that make your character pretty overkill. Add on the very stupid in-game AI, and there’s not really any sort of combat challenge no matter how you build your character. Personally, I went for a critical shooting specialist, and 30 hours into the game, I built a character that hit for 10,000 damage a headshot. Honestly, the only element I loathed about the gameplay was driving, as both the first-person camera that oddly heavily details the dashboard and the overall stiffness in controls were outright awful.
But how does it play on PS4?
So for everything that goes right with Cyberpunk, the glitches cancel out and ruin virtually everything fun about the experience – especially for the PS4. I loved a lot of this game, and under different circumstances, would give it high marks as an RPG. But the fact that I had to hesitate with every second of gameplay out of fear of it crashing, losing a rare item, or having to redo quests all absolutely killed my experience playing it.
That’s the truth. And while some can argue about utilizing the game’s autosaves, that actually works against you, as you might screw up a critical choice or miss a rare artifact and, in turn, be locked out. A large chunk of my gameplay was spent managing save files and having to replay large missions because the game outright bugged out or glitched. Here’s a list of a few examples:
- In the mirror, V is bald, and their body renders piece by piece.
- When I purchased V’s double jump, it immediately glitched and didn’t work, which is horrifying considering the 45,000 eddies cost. At some random point later in the game (and yes, I mean random, I tried many things to trigger it), it does start working. Though not until after the unnecessary panic attack.
- A lot of the characters aren’t lip-synched. Also, Brigitte never actually talks in this game. Not only is she not lip-synched, but apparently, she’s a full-on ventriloquist.
- V’s dick pops out. Likewise, I rarely get to see V’s nipples. Why does it matter? I don’t know, so why does it matter in my character creator?
- Text messages can appear out of order. I wouldn’t have cared about this small oversight if the message hadn’t come from V’s in-video game girlfriend. Then I was confused. Like I angered my actual girlfriend.
- There’s a death in the game I was absolutely taken aback by until the car we were inside decided to kick this dead person’s corpse into an alleyway. Later on, the game decided to treat his motorcycle the same way by throwing it out of their garage.
- You can, for no reason whatsoever, start flying infinitely into the sun. You can also get pulled deep into the earth.
- You can get flung 200 yards in the opposite direction when jumping forward or through a window. Cars can sometimes do the same.
- Random characters will stand on chairs. Your character, likewise, will sometimes stand on its motorcycle.
- There can be loads of excess peeing.
- Worst of all, your game will crash and freeze often. Especially if you’re inputting too many commands, managing too many items, or scrolling too quickly across the map.
There’s more, but I think you’ve honestly gotten the gist of it. Honestly, there are more bugs in this game than anything that I’ve played all year. And I reviewed not only Marvel’s Avengers but also several other glitch-filled indie games, all of which work better than Cyberpunk 2077. Especially because I didn’t lose 15 hours of my time playing it due to glitches.
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL
I can’t believe I’m saying this either. Because the truth is, beyond the glitches, there are some bad game design choices within the game itself. Like the fact that you can jump out of a moving car with no rolling physics affecting your character. Or the fact that the wanted system makes no sense and makes GTA’s look like a masterpiece, as it’s ridiculous that you can go from causing an accidental civilian death to getting annihilated by a full-on robot police army in the span of 30 seconds. As things escalate that quickly the second a single cop dies. It’s also dumb that the police ignore the rival gang holding civilians hostage in the first place and choose instead to team up to fight the idiot with a talking clip-art gun. No matter how Keanuesque my V may be.
Don’t Buy Cyberpunk 2077 Right Now
I have never equally loved and hated a game as much as Cyberpunk 2077. When it works, it’s definitely a fun game of sorts, but when it breaks, which it does too often in every sense of the word, it immediately saps any sort of fun from the experience. Worst of all, it wastes tens of hours of your time due to bugs and game-breaking errors. As it stands right now, I wouldn’t recommend playing it for anyone on the base PS4. I did, and I regret absolutely everything.
Final Verdict: 2.5/5
Available on: PS4 (Reviewed); Xbox One; PC; Stadia; Developer: CD Projekt Red; Publisher: CD Projekt Red; Players: 1; Released: December 10th, 2020; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: 59.99
A review copy was purchased by the author