Cyberpunk 2077: the nuances of a city that never sleeps

Cyberpunk 2077: the nuances of a city that never sleeps

Cyberpunk 2077

In Night City, anyone who has explored the streets and participated in its mundane life is said to have come out better and happier, and in Cyberpunk 2077 it is just the pinnacle. On the other hand, what could one ever expect from a city to explore, understand and face, in a game world to be experienced amidst suffering, deprivation and continuous disturbances? And what does it really mean to live, in the shadow of the Arasaka Tower, while everything changes and transforms itself, drying up and innovating itself? There is everything we could wish for, in fact, and even much more. Streets teeming with life, people with their daily routines, shops illuminated by orange, blue and violet LEDs, and that typical coming and going of someone in a hurry because they are late in getting to their workplace. Perhaps a workplace in the suburbs, far from the hot asphalt of Pacifica, in the neighborhood that recalls the Shibuya of Persona 5, with the only difference that the gangsters on the streets are not satisfied with ruining someone's life, but intend to see the world of burning, hoping that the flames, once scattered everywhere, are even capable of enveloping every cubic meter and taking over the neighborhoods and residences of the most unfortunate .

If Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has managed to do something, it was conveying exactly these sensations. Cyberpunk 2077, released two years ago now, was the production of discord for many, the most discussed, loved and criticized video game. It is the video game that, after two years, is what everyone hoped for after a period of ups and downs, which everyone knows and it is actually quite useless to repeat. Arrived on the shelves and in the digital libraries of gamers, the effort of CD Projekt RED, thanks to the success of The Witcher, was supposed to be the arrival point for the Polish developer house, as well as the work that would have made that smell of next gen feel and innovation that many are waiting for.

“Someday I'll take you to the moon”

In part, especially after numerous patches and post-launch support to fix problems, the work of the team based in Warsaw it was reborn in a new light. A troubled, slow and complex path, which has projected the player into a city divided between the power of corporations and multinationals and poverty, which in Night City is really everywhere, and not just in its many urban neighborhoods. If you look closer, it's even there where we wouldn't think at all: behind all those blinding lights, in reality, there is the real Night City, devastated by power, reduced to a pile of dust, and held up only by personal interests. Ruined lives, lost lives, lives that now, after some time, count for nothing. They are empty existences, shells of a harrowing and devastating past, reduced only to walking the streets of the city with the sole aim of surviving another day.

No time to stop, no c It's time to look around and there's no time to figure out if someone is in trouble, but the truth, terrible and far more deafening than silence, is that nobody seems interested in asking for a hand. Cyberpunk 2077, to get to arouse these sensations, took two years, and while the patches rearranged an unpleasant situation on the console, instead on PC everything was booming. People got lost everywhere as they followed the story of V and Johnny Silverhand, the man who, despite the time, has survived the cruelty and profiteering of Arasaka, even managing to conquer death.

Two years to get to this, two years to realize a story written with maturity and passion, two years to remind the player how important it is to observe moon and get lost in those stars that Daniel and Lucy know very well. Two years of criticism, of great work by the Polish team and of a sensitivity that, unexpectedly, had the ability to really make us understand what that city from a thousand and one nights really hides which, however, between ups and downs, has made to hate as much as to love. If Cyberpunk 2077 was released today, it would be exactly the video game that CD Projekt RED has been dreaming of since it began to lay the foundations of the project, immediately after the publication of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. A complex and avant-garde dream which, after so much time, has succeeded, however, not in the way everyone had imagined. Furthermore, everyone still remembers the sumptuous appearance of Keanu Reeves and the famous joke that everyone now remembers with a smile. It was a happy time but no one imagined it, and that was before the pandemic.

It was before Cyberpunk 2077 was released, reviews were published, and patches were thrown in lavishly. It was before the story of Daniel and Lucy, and it was still that period following the publication of Death Stranding, in which everyone was waiting for nothing but to breathe the air of a genre that was still unexplored at the time. And over the last two years, between one thing and another, Cloudpunk, Ghostrunner and other productions have arrived which, drawing from futuristic settings and directly from the reference genre also taken up by CD Projekt RED, have had to do with Cyberpunk up close, but not as close as many expected. Deus Ex had arrived earlier, but Cyberpunk, since its announcement, was proposed as a different work, curated and attentive to detail.

Something that, nowadays, is not totally easy to achieve. As everyone knows, however, it is a half-successful operation, but this does not at all configure it as a negative or totally questionable experience, when in reality it is partially open to criticism in various respects. A video game reborn from the ashes which now, after some time, is the work that many hoped for. Not perfect, because no work really is. Its real history, if we think about it, is not dissimilar from the virtual one. And what I've experienced, now that I've reached the end credits, is as magnificent as I ever expected. The lights shine in the sky, the silence is broken by the roar of the engines and the voices of the people. It's Night City.

One city, one hope, a new future

Interfacing with Cyberpunk 2077 and its dynamics, I didn't know exactly what to expect: I knew, however, that there was so much to discover and understand. It was an experience that lasted two years waiting for the next gen patch, and I admit that it wasn't the video game I was most eagerly awaiting, despite having known CD Projekt RED since 2007. Lately, however, I completed it and I understood , also thanks to the Netflix animated series, what the proverbial rabbit hole was hiding, facing realities that, in one way or another, I admit are now absolutely relevant .

I am referring, in addition to experience proper, to its themes. The team's work, drawing lessons from The Witcher and from the plots written by Andrzej Sapkowski, has proposed situations that, if examined carefully, are much deeper than we imagine. Corporations, led by capitalist systems that exploit labor and do not guarantee a comfortable life for the poorest, are increasingly devastating the planet, disintegrating it. Of the context, once I reached a certain point of the experience, I then discovered that the next step is space, now a safe destination for anyone crazy enough to want to reach it, going well beyond infinity and its ramifications. There is a future that has yet to be written and to be thought about, there is a city to be saved, even if it is now irrecoverable, and there is a policy of exploitation that dries up the lives of those who cannot make ends meet . Cyberpunk: Edgerunners' references, similar in lore to those of the Cyberpunk 2077 experience, uniquely capture the realities outside the virtual world of Night City. Dealing with delicate situations, the story of Daniel and Lucy is similar to that of V and Johnny, and the beauty of Cyberpunk 2077 focuses precisely on the narrative construction and writing of the characters, missions and situations that are configured within the experience , which changes and entertains , leaving you speechless .

This kind of approach, in addition to being didactic and detailed, unites the first point of the question: the city . Night City is immense, with skyscrapers that caress the clouds and plasma screens that talk about the new trendy haircut of a skimpy model. However, it is a free city, but not as free as one thinks, although one can live one's sexuality carefree. Sexual awareness, another theme inserted into the narrative with intelligence and sensitivity, therefore outlines a society without dictates, where the importance is being yourself. However, how can this coexist with the interests of multinationals such as Arasaka, who don't care about people's lives?

V, who can be customized as you prefer, is a protagonist who can choose who to be, what to do and how to interface with people of his choice. In this sense, this is certainly the most interesting part of the production, but in Night City there is never too much space to be yourself. It is a society, in fact, analogous to the real one, with its hypocrisies. Night City promises sexual freedom, simple love and money, and high-paying jobs, but whoever runs it doesn't really think about the people. As I walked around the city, wondering where everyone was going and what they were doing in their lives, I realized that everything was already pre-arranged from the beginning.

On the streets, the police were everywhere, in charge of stopping any cyberpsychopaths and other characters of this caliber, ready to do anything to stop them. And yes, even to kill them. Night City is littered with checkpoints and old streets that were once used by other people in an era other than 2077. And maybe you also loved differently and you were really afraid of being yourself. There was hope for a better future. There was the desire to change, there was the desire to fight and there were those who supported anyone. It was another period, perhaps, but in reality it was not so different from the current one: there was always the powerful on duty, and the only real thing was love. Today's Night City, between perdition and desire, is nevertheless freer and better in many respects, yet nothing has changed: the corporations hold the life and death of people, their ruin and their joy.

In a boundless cruelty, however, hides a future full of unknowns, which I discovered by advancing in the game experience, exploring every place, talking to strangers and starting missions of any kind. I chose who to love, I chose who to help and in the meantime I chose what to become. The future, in Cyberpunk 2077, is the focal point of the gaming experience, because every action has consequences and the ending can be different depending on the player's choices. In the course of experience, however, one decides who to be and who to love, and this represents a point of salvation that should not be underestimated at all, considering the style adopted to talk about the future in a different way. As I mentioned before, Night City is a complex city, difficult to contemplate and absorb, but it is it that captures important elements, it is it that manages to offer something unique and it is it, once again, that is the real protagonist of this world.

The present of Cyberpunk 2077

Among its busy streets, its sidewalks full of people, its shops of all kinds, its scaffolding and its lights neon, there is something that hides incredible stories. That of V, who writes the player and, above all, that of Johnny Silverhand, a romantic tragedy which, moreover, involves characters, the whole city and the paradigms of a society that tries to be innovative and different from the past, but is actually still worse, taken to the extreme and devastated. V and Johnny, two souls in the same body, are the incredible protagonists who, in one way or another, it is impossible to let go, because they are existences of that city so tormented and devastated, that it finds itself having to deal with the her past, her present and her future, forced to change, improve and shed her skin.

Johnny, on the other hand, would not exist without V, and V would not exist without Johnny. In fact, each of their close relationships with other people contains their personalities, between ghosts of the past, certainties of the present and certainties of the future. If nothing else, Keanu Reeves' character remembers never making the same mistakes he did. Despite trying hard not to admit it, Johnny Silverhand loves V, and cares about his future more than anyone. The nuances of Cyberpunk 2077, having come to this, are many and each theme can only be explored by making correlations between the two protagonists of the work, although there is a third. Nighy City is fascination, damnation, fear and terror. It's death and blood, it's loneliness and despair. But it is also wonder, amazement, rebellion and love. And all this because, after all, she is the real protagonist of a video game that is finally complete.

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