I’m not much of an anime head, as my colleagues constantly complain. I’ve seen most of the Studio Ghibli movies, the first few Pokemon series and Death Note, but that’s about it. I’m not going to watch 1000 episodes of One Piece, and even though Cowboy Bebop has been recommended to me over and over, I still haven’t gotten around to watching it. But ten short episodes set in the Cyberpunk 2077 universe? Sure, I’ll give it a chance.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners was great. I enjoyed the second half much more than the first, but overall it was a really cool story propelled by great characters. The show explored concepts of losing your humanity while increasing your flesh in interesting ways with increasingly complicated bionics, and the central love story was as gripping as it was tragic. Gory fight scenes are full of unrealistic athleticism, time-consuming gadgetry, and more explosions than a Schwarzenegger movie. For an anime noob it was perfect.
On the other hand, we have Cyberpunk 2077. Although I only played five to ten hours of CD Projekt Red’s RPG before I got bored and turned it off, I’ve read a lot about it. I’m aware this isn’t a substitute for playing the game, but everything I’ve read has put me off, not to mention bugs. When it first launched (then pulled from stores), I read about its childish take on sex (something Edgerunners unfortunately replicates), its useless skills, and the fact that Cyberware barely worked. You can only play by making your way through levels, there is no place for hackers or other role-playing games in Night City no matter how hard you try.
Since joining TheGamer nearly a year ago, I’ve read and edited countless articles on Cyberpunk 2077, which is why I’ve read even more on the subject to provide helpful and constructive advice. I’ve read about a world full of locked doors and no-entry buildings, racial stereotypes, and bad to useless cosmetic upgrades. Sure, there are apparently some great characters, quests, and set pieces, but it’s clear to me that this isn’t the game that will replicate the Edgerunners experience.
I don’t care to get David’s yellow jacket or see the Edgerunners credentials patched in 2077, I want to upgrade myself with an Arasaka Exoskeleton so that I look more like a Warhammer 40,000 Dreadnought than I am a man, a become a metal monster and wreak havoc in Night City of its own accord. But that’s not an option for V, whose cyberware only improves stats and grants abilities rather than giving her cosmetic changes or significantly altering her playstyle. The only real physical upgrade are the Mantis Blades, which I’ve been told are useless if melee combat is rare and ineffective.
While I’ve also been pointed out that a cyberpsycho wears a similar exoskeleton in the game, that’s not enough. What is the cyberpunk genre without the risk of losing your humanity? Edgerunners tells that story perfectly, and while I don’t know how Johnny Silverhand gets to grips with his virtual life in V’s head, nothing tells me that 2077 will even try to address similar existential questions.
From the outside, Cyberpunk 2077 looks all style and no substance. The character creator – which I did use in my short playthrough – is a good example of this. You can match any genitals with any of the binary genders, but your voice is locked to be deep for a male V or high for a female. Everything is for show, to create a cool looking world full of edgy looking people, but nothing goes deeper. Nothing is explored or analysed, none of the most interesting genre concepts are used for more than epic set pieces.
Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe Cyberpunk 2077 does an excellent job of embodying and interrogating cyberpunk ideas, but it just so happens that no one talks about that aspect of the game. But, from the outside, Edgerunners seems to achieve that better in its ten short episodes than 2077 in its 100 hours of gameplay. Anyway, I’m not going to waste my time trying to find out.