Cyberpunk and retrogaming: from the 80s to today

Cyberpunk and retrogaming: from the 80s to today

Cyberpunk and retrogaming

The term cyberpunk was not coined from scratch but taken from a text by Bruce Bethke who invented it by mixing the concepts of cybernetics and punk, another very strong trend of the time. Brought to critical and public success by authors such as William Gibson (who wrote "the bible" of the genre, the Neuromancer), from the early '80s to today it has had a success that does not tend to stop. Although born as a literary avant-garde movement, its strongly underground influences soon conquered all the existing media, from comics to video games, becoming a real genre of science fiction with social and political connotations, as well as iconically identifying from an artistic and artistic point of view. visual.

The Cyberpunk 2077 game has its roots in that world created through countless cinematographic, narrative and obviously videogame works: we discover through our special which are the titles that belong in an essential way to this genre and which may have indirectly influenced many aspects of CD Projekt Red's latest effort.

Blade Runner

The original Blade Runner, based on Ridley Scott's cinematic masterpiece, represents a milestone in video games> and one of the best surviving exponents of the cyberpunk genre. Developed by the famous Westwood Studios, former authors of Command & Conquer and Dune II, it narrates the vicissitudes of the replicant hunter Roy McCoy in the year 2019 (that's right, today we are a year ahead of Blade Runner). A fully remastered version with HD graphics on all consoles and PCs called "Enhanced Edition" should arrive by the end of the year, we look forward to it. The extreme characterization of the city, which represents a real protagonist of the story, was then taken up by many games including the beautiful Dreamfall Chapters on PC and PlayStation 4.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Not really a masterpiece that has gone down in history, but we wanted to mention it because Ghost in the Shell represents a real primary work for the cyberpunk world which defines the philosophical and spiritual outlines as rarely other works had been able to do. The game is obviously built around the world created by Masamune Shirow and takes up the events of the 2002 anime series which was set in a parallel universe, while retaining the original cast. The opportunity to merge the universe of GITS in a video game unfortunately failed miserably, handing down to the posters an unfortunately anonymous title in the sea of ​​first person shooters and free-to-play, but we still wanted to mention it to remember what represents the greatest exponent of the "japan side" genre.

System Shock

Let's go back to talking about video games from a specific weight of a completely different consistency, remembering how the "old" System Shock released on PC in 1994 is set just five years before Cyberpunk 2077. The title was directed by Doug Church, a true pioneer who has collaborated over the years with countless software houses such as Eidos, EA and currently Valve. System Shock, set in a space station, featured us as a hacker about to stop a dangerous artificial intelligence called SHODAN. The title had a great impact in the world of video games by introducing many elements that were little used at the time, such as the development of the story through logs recorded by other characters, effectively eliminating the free dialogues within the adventure.


Strongly inspired by the "pillars" of cyberpunks of the time such as Akira and Blade Runner, Hideo Kojima wanted to develop in 1988 a graphic adventure with a strongly cinematic cut (and who else could do it, if not him ?). Initially released on MSX2 in Japan, it also enjoyed transpositions on PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Snatcher worked through a HUD through which the player could issue orders and commands such as talking to other characters, looking for objects or interacting with the surrounding environment. The legacy of Ridley Scott's masterpiece was immediately revealed: the protagonist of the Konami game was in fact an investigator hunting humanoids perfectly disguised as humans in the city of Neo Kobe City. Even with some flaws, Snatcher is considered one of the best games ever thanks to its plot.

Katana Zero

Let's go back to the present day and talk about a little pearl recently released on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One. Katana Zero is a 2D action platform with a strong cyberpunk component, both from a purely aesthetic point of view and as regards the topics covered. First of all the setting, once again a "Neo" city of the future (Mecca) full of details, brightly colored neon and characters with questionable morals. Katana Zero is an indie game developed by Justin Stander, a 26-year-old young man named by the prestigious Forbes as one of the most promising personalities of the year.

Deus Ex

If there is a video game from which one to draw inspiration for for topics covered and cyberpunk style, this is definitely Deus Ex. The entire saga has definitely influenced the landscape of modern video games thanks to a mixed gameplay between first person shooter, action rpg and stealth similar to what is already appreciated in Perfect Dark on Nintendo64 (another "masterpiece" of the genre). One of the key points is the interaction with non-player characters who can react differently based on the faction they belong to and other personal choices of the player: Deus Ex is a series where the freedom of action is particularly facilitated and is one of the points cornerstone of its gameplay. In Deus Ex we find all the clichés common to Cyberpunk 2077: large corporations, government conspiracies, bionic technologies and a dystopian future once again decadent and with many shadows.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon

Born as an independent spin-off of Far Cry 3, Blood Dragon is one of the best examples of cyberpunk shooter, this time with a strong satirical and parody connotation thanks to its stereotypes (especially visual) based on the 80s and the whole dystopian / futuristic genre . The Ubisoft title shares many aspects with the recent Cyberpunk 2077 such as the first person view, the use of technologically enhanced weapons and the use of vehicles. It is obviously not an RPG, but it still used a simplified "tree" of skill development as seen in many other action games.


We publish the video of the last (controversial) chapter of 2012 which represented a reboot of the series, in many ways unfortunately failed both from a commercial point of view and the general quality of the game, but Syndicate has always represented a pillar in the cyberpunk science fiction genre thanks to the first chapter developed by Bullfrog back in 1993 For those unfamiliar with it, it was a real-time strategic one with an isometric view from above in which to face missions with the most disparate objectives: from rescuing hostages to eliminating specific objectives through the use of cybernetic and enhanced weapons. The futuristic setting in which it was set was imbued with elements dear to the genre: unscrupulous multinationals, spies, hackers and ruthless killers. In 2015, however, a great title comes out that spiritually and virtually takes its legacy: Satellite Reign.

Beneath a Steel Sky

Like another great classic of the genre, DreamWeb, Beneath a Steel Sky was also released in 1994 on Amiga and MS-Dos with the point and click formula, with profound influences from all the legacy of cyberpunk science fiction of the 80s. Obviously set in a dystopian future, the game was born from the fervent mind of Charles Cecil (Does Broken Sword tell you anything?) And the collaboration with the British cartoonist Dave Gibbons who had given birth to the Watchmen series with Alan Moore. A perfect and ideal combination to create a title halfway between the seriousness of Sierra adventures and the typically British comedy also appreciated in LucasArts games. Beneath a Steel Sky, along with DreamWeb, contributed greatly to creating that pop culture undergrowth so dear to many video games, including Cyberpunk 2077.

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