Cyberpunk 2077 Evaluations Spotlight the Magnificence and Bugs of the RPG

The first Cyberpunk 2077 reviews are now officially out in the world. But boy are there some words of warning to consider before diving into them.

First of all, obviously, they’re spoilery. Secondly, and this is more of an issue for this title than perhaps any in recent memory, professional reviewers were given such limited time ahead of release that, for the 100+-hour playthrough, only a fraction of the game itself was able to be experienced. So while a small portion of our readers out there seem to think that game reviewers have some kind of time-turner, the fact is that crush and crunch are very much a part of the game review circuit, too.

Movies take anywhere from 90 minutes to a few hours to enjoy beginning to end; TV seasons, say 10 to 20 hours. Factor in the 100+-hour RPGs like Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and yeah, it’s not physically possible to experience all their is to see, especially when CDPR holds back review codes until the last possible moment.

Take this earnest and transparent reveal by Kotaku’s reviewer Riley MacLeod:

Kotaku got the game less than a week before embargo, and only on PC. (CDPR has not sent us code for the console version of the game, though we’ve been asking.)

What this means is that the early reviews you’re reading are going to be from games that haven’t benefitted from CDPR’s Day Zero patch (aimed at correcting many of the bugs you’re about to read about), will be somewhat biased thanks to the rush and time crunch, and will be incomplete by definition. Some won’t even have a score. Keep that in mind as you read the following reviews, and be sure to not only return to see final versions of those reviews but to check out the game for yourself whenever you’re able. We’ll update this article with more finished reviews as they come in.

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Image via CD Projekt Red

Here are the reviews of Cyberpunk 2077 so far:

Vice, Review by Rob Zacny (Score: N/A)

Cyberpunk 2077 is a game of the past and its forgotten futures. Its setting is a pastiche that was overtaken by history and technology. It is a piece of software that is a throwback to PC gaming of the 1990s and early 2000s in every possible way, and its aesthetic and narrative sensibilities of a teenage boy’s bedroom in the 1980s. Yet its lavish and utterly sincere devotion to its influences recalls what has made these dated visions so alluring and enduring. Cyberpunk is too tacky and graceless to be cool, but it’s very big, and very loud, and sometimes that’s all it takes to be awesome. […] In the face of the thoroughly amok-machinery of techno-corporatism that has destroyed society and ruthlessly crushes any challenges and dissent that it might face, Cyberpunk 2077 wants to believe in a hero, and the promise of a neon sunset.

PC Gamer, Review by James Davenport (Score: 78 out of 100)

It’s just another day in Cyberpunk 2077, a pretty good RPG in an amazing setting absolutely sick with bugs.[…] The deeper sidequests are infrequent, too difficult to separate from the endless warehouse infiltration Gigs, but they’re all good to great, and some are up there with CD Projekt’s best, even if there’s no clear Bloody Baron standout. […]Cyberpunk 2077 remains a loving, faithful treatment of the genre, and one that constantly urged me to look for the silver lining in every shit-soaked gutter. […] Even if you can nosedive V into a life of crime and greed, the repercussions highlight what’s possible in the relief of what you reject in favor of power and money. Cyberpunk 2077 is a game about close relationships, or if you’re roleplaying a more coldhearted type, seeing what life is like at the top without them. […] I found it moving and life-affirming in the final moments, even in the face of near certain death and a relentless onslaught of bugs. I suppose it’s an appropriate thematic throughline though: Cyberpunk 2077 is a game about V coming apart at the seams, in a city coming apart at the seams, in a game coming apart at the seams. Play it in a few months.

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Image via CD Projekt Red

Kotaku, Review by Riley MacLeod (Score: N/A)

I haven’t fallen in love with playing Cyberpunk 2077, but I haven’t loathed it either. Some moments have been exciting or moving, while others have just felt like stuff to do. I’m middle-of-the-road on it so far—having fun in spots, left wanting the game to be more like what made The Witcher 3 great in others. The game itself wants so badly for you to think it’s cool, that it’s the cutting edge of graphics and game design, that it talks about edgy topics like body modification, corporate power, and the internet. It tries too hard, stuffing itself with a tangle of complicated roleplaying game systems; with so many cyberpunk tropes, plots, and slang; with neon and holograms and so many in-game ads, most of them for sex; with car chases and hacking and corporate espionage and double-crossing powerful people; with a world where the human body is made obsolete with money and technology, while also chewed up and spat out for the sake of capital. There’s an admirable diversity of races, sexualities, genders, and body types, but they feel like a veneer. It’s not a politically progressive game: these identities are all in service of the game’s vision of the cyberpunk future, one that can feel implausible and alienating but also has hints of the world we live in today.So far, Cyberpunk isn’t The Best Game Ever or The Future Of Video Games, as the hype promised, nor is it just an enraging pile of offensive tropes.

Polygon, Review by Carolyn Petit (Score: N/A)

I can’t deny that Night City wowed me with its scale, its verticality, and its sense of history. But I wish I could see people like me on its streets as something more than objects. I wish that the game’s politics were more radical. Yes, I know I shouldn’t look to a colossal game that was itself produced under exploitative labor conditions to lead the charge of anticapitalist liberation, but I wish the sparks of Johnny Silverhand’s ideological rage got to burn brighter, that Cyberpunk 2077 felt more interested in envisioning new futures than in reminiscing over bygone glories. Neither its gameplay nor its narrative can imagine the bold possibilities that I find so central to the best of cyberpunk. But what it does offer is visions of people trying to make do and get by in a world that’s trying to eat them alive, and sometimes those people get by with a little help from their friends. It’s not the revolution I hoped for, but it’s something.

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Image via CD Projekt/YouTube

VentureBeat, Review by Jeff Grubb (Score: 3 out of 5 stars)

Cyberpunk 2077 is a promise. But it’s a different promise to different people. For many, it’s the blockbuster sci-fi followup to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that will do everything that game did but bigger. For me, Cyberpunk 2077 was the promise of the next generation of choice, simulation, and interactivity. Now that I’ve played it myself, I think that developer CD Projekt Red delivered a big-budget thrill ride with entertaining quests in a thriving setting.But it isn’t much more than that.

IGN, Review by Tom Marks (Score: N/A)

In my experience, great open-world RPGs like The Witcher 3 or Skyrim aren’t defined by the strength of their main story, but that of the side missions around it. With Cyberpunk 2077, developer CD Projekt Red has taken that philosophy and built an entire game out of it. Apart from the surprisingly short but still utterly compelling central questline that draws you through its diverse near-future cityscape, the vast majority of what you can do in Night City is entirely optional but often still extremely impactful on your journey. This more freeform structure isn’t without its faults, including loads of distracting bugs, but the strength of the missions themselves – optional or not – and the choice you have within them make Cyberpunk 2077 one of the most exciting, emotional, and just plain fun RPGs I’ve played in recent years.

[…]

Cyberpunk 2077 kicks you into its beautiful and dazzlingly dense cityscape with few restrictions. It offers a staggering amount of choice in how to build your character, approach quests, and confront enemies, and your decisions can have a tangible and natural-feeling impact on both the world around you and the stories of the people who inhabit it. Those stories can be emotional, funny, dark, exciting, and sometimes all of those things at once. The main quest may be shorter than expected when taken on its own and it’s not always clear what you need to do to make meaningful changes to its finale, but the multitude of side quests available almost from the start can have a surprisingly powerful effect on the options you have when you get there. It’s a shame that frustratingly frequent bugs can occasionally kill an otherwise well-set mood, but Cyberpunk 2077’s impressively flexible design makes it a truly remarkable RPG.

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Image via CD Projekt Red

The Verge, Review by Adi Robertson (Score: N/A)

Cyberpunk 2077, the long-awaited game by Witcher studio CD Projekt Red, is about a place called Night City. But in its version, the past is never far away. Cyberpunk 2077 was announced in 2012, and it’s based on a tabletop series that launched in 1988. After years of work and reportedly months of brutal crunch time, CD Projekt Red has delivered on an incredibly ambitious vision: a vast virtual city with a complex narrative and roleplaying system.

It’s done that by playing all those elements extremely safe and straight. Cyberpunk 2077 is a frequently satisfying and sometimes impressive game, but despite its setting in the fast-moving future, it’s almost never a surprising one.

GameSpot, Review by Kallie Plagge (Score: 7 out of 10)

[I]t’s hard to get into Cyberpunk 2077’s world in general. So much of it is superficial set dressing, and there’s so much happening all around you–ads going off at all times, gunfights breaking out in the streets, texts coming in about cars you’ll never buy–that a lot of the game feels superfluous. The side quests and the characters they showcase are the shining beacon through the neon-soaked bleakness of Night City, and they give you room to explore the best the core RPG mechanics have to offer. These are what carried me through an otherwise disappointing experience.

VG247, Review by James Billcliffe (Score: 5 out of 5 stars)

Through the terrible power of 2020, Cyberpunk 2077 has gone from capping off the last generation to being one of the first huge games of the next – as if the expectations weren’t high enough already.Between delays and a hype cycle that’s lasted the best part of a decade at this point, CD Projekt Red has the impossible task of making good on all the blanks filled in by 8 years of eager imaginations. The scale of Cyberpunk 2077 and Night City is vast, as is its level of detail. But at the same time, it’s definitely not what I expected.[…]In the midst of such intense anticipation and scrutiny, it’s easy to get carried away with what Cyberpunk 2077 could have been. The final experience might be more familiar than many predicted, with plenty of elements that aren’t perfect, but it’s dripping with detail and engaging stories. With so much to see and do, Cyberpunk 2077 is the kind of RPG where you blink and hours go by, which is just what we need to finish off 2020.

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About The Author

Dave Trumbore
(9007 Articles Published)

Author of “The Science of Breaking Bad” from MIT Press | Twitch Affiliate: twitch.tv/drclawmd | Co-host of the Saturday Mourning Cartoons podcast | Community manager for Ironface Studios | Former science freelance writer for Nerdist.com | Former Animation editor, Streaming Content editor for Collider.com | Founder of ATL S.T.E.A.M.

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