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Cyberpunk 2077: Release date, Keanu, and what we know so far

cyberpunk 2077 keanu

Cyberpunk 2077 News, Updates and Trailer

Cyberpunk 2077 has finally given us some more news, with an updated trailer released yesterday at E3, along with the shocking revelation that Keanu Reeves will be featured in the video game as what may be an NPC called Johnny Silverhand. I, along with the rest of the collective internet, took a gasp of ecstatic surprise when Keanu appears out of nowhere at the end of the video game trailer. In case the connection with Keanu Reeves wasn’t already clear, Keanu is perhaps one of the most recurring actors to play lead-role cyberpunk films, such as Johnny Mnemonic and the Matrix franchise of course, which I’ve already covered extensively in my review here. In addition to quickly making it to the front page of Reddit, users are also comparing how Keanu looks in his digitized form in the video game compared to how he looked in the relatively successful single player games Enter the Matrix and Path of Neo (both of which I played extensively, and absolutely loved as a child growing up).

Keanu videogame then and now


After the new video game footage was displayed at E3, Keanu himself walked out onto the stage to finally announce

the release date of Cyberpunk 2077, which is April 16th, 2020.

It was surreal to see Keanu in the game and then in real life walk out on stage, so I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be there in the audience in person. One particular attendee expressed our collective adoration when Keanu announced “walking the streets of night city is breathtaking” to which this fan responded “YOU’RE breathtaking!” Without missing a beat, Keanu responds with “no, YOU’RE breathtaking…you’re all breathtaking!” Being the humble and friendly neighborhood Keanu that he is, the moment is also being immortalized on the internet as a classic awww moment.

To see the trailer with Keanu’s dramatic entrance, check it out here.

Pre-Order Cyberpunk 2077

With the announcement of the release date, Steam made Cyberpunk 2077 available for pre-order for $59.99, and apparently it’s already reaching #1 in sales on Steam. And it won’t even be available for another 10 months.

It’s hard to emphasize how much hype there is for this video game since it was announced way back in 2012. Ever since the success of The Witcher 3, there has been so much silence on when this game would come out, complete with rumor mills and countless articles about any little bit of information the internet could gather whenever a member of the CD Projekt Red team would change. The Hype Train got so loud that simply looking for any news on Cyberpunk media online, I had to put “-2077” in the google search bar because otherwise I would only see news related to the video game.

So what do we know so far about Cyberpunk 2077?

Well, although it has FPS elements, it’s first and foremost an RPG with a strong narrative component. The gameplay trailer released last year showed off a lot of the game’s systems, including character progression, combat, and how decision trees affect your gaming experience. There’s both a collector’s edition and standard edition available for pre-order, and it will be available on what looks like most systems (next-gen Xbox and Playstation, Steam, Epic, GOG, etc.)

The main character is called V, and can be visually with hair, tattoos, and clothing, including being male or female, each variant of which has its own voice actor of course. However, it doesn’t look like deep facial feature sliders will be an option. You can also choose your stats, similar to Fallout, apparently.

The Setting of Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in Night City, a fictional metropolis in Northern California named after its founder Richard Night. It features six districts with no loading screens between them. You can drive to get around in different vehicles using first or third person. The city is part of a world where the US suffered an extreme socioeconomic collapse that affected the rest of the planet by throwing it into chaos. The US government can only maintain a weak sense of order through the help of mega-corporations.

Its source material comes from a tabletop game written by Mike Pondsmith called Cyberpunk 2020. The game has been through three iterations, with the first two being Cyberpunk 2013 and Cyberpunk 2020. Within these games, we can both take a deep dive into the lore and history, but also into the classes that we can expect.’

Cyberpunk 2020

Cyberpunk 2020 has 9 different distinct classes: Cop, Corporate, Fixer, Media, Netrunner, Nomad, Solo, Techie, and Rockerboy. The latter has one famous kind of Rockerboy: Johnny Silverhand. As a Rockerboy, Silverhand is a bard who uses his music to convey his message of anti-capitalism as a way of acting as the social conscience of the masses. Part Rebel, part street-poet, he’s charisma incarnate who hearten the oppressed and resist authority using their music and poetry. One representative said they were “beyond excited” for Reeves to take on the role. “As a musician and someone who believes in making an impact in the word, someone who has known fame and the way it can lift and cut, its clear Mr. Reeves can understand Johnny in a way few people can.”

To learn more about all the lore of the Cyberpunk setting and history, you can read up about it here.

Organ Harvesting Real Dystopian Reality for Uyghurs in Chinese Concentration Camps

Uyghur photo


Tursun gets out to tell her story to the world

Back in January CNN broke the story of alleged re-education (read: concentration) camps that the Chinese government were placing Muslim Uyghur minorities in. Numbers are unclear, but from 800,000 to possibly 2 million Uyghurs may have been detained in camps that the Chinese foreign ministry is refuting as “complete lies told with ulterior motives”. They prefer the term “vocational training center”. But leaks are getting out, like one Mihrigul Tursun who told a tale of detention and torture to the US Congressional Executive Commission on China in 2018.

The Uyghurs who have experienced it describe the experience as “cultural genocide” with camps giving forced lessons on Communist party propaganda and region-wide bans on Uyghur customs and traditions. In early January, Chinese authorities led a carefully supervised tour to show some activities in these centers, where the inmates were seen taking Mandarin lessons, painting, dancing, and singing the song “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”.

What happened to Tursun, you ask? Well, she was returning to China from Egypt with her eight-week-old triplets when the authorities stopped her for questioning. After they took away her babies and detained her for 3 months, she was told upon her release that one of her sons died in an operation. They gave her no explanations as to why they took her babies, or needed to put them in a hospital, or why they had scars at the base of their necks. They then took away her passport and kept a watchful eye on her.

The nightmare continues

Two years later, they returned to take her to the concentration camp. Inmates ranged from 17 to 62 years of age, and the camp was so crowded people had to take turns sleeping and standing.

Finally, Tursun was able to get released with the help of the US government. But if only the problems were as simple as that.

Uyghur DNA and blood type database?

There were later reports that Uyghurs were being offered “free health checkups” except that all that was done was a blood collection, without telling the patients what their results were. This week, an exiled Uyghur oncology surgeon from Urumqi decided he had to speak out on what was happening in the concentration centers.

Organ Harvesting

Enver Tohti recalls when he was called to remove a lived and two kidneys from an executed prisoner. Except the prisoner wasn’t dead yet. The Chinese execution squad had shot him through the right chest so he would have time to remove the organs while the man was still alive, in order to keep the organs fresh. He was to remove the organs without any anesthetic, too.

That happened in 1995. Years later, he released how widespread and systematic this process had begun, and in 1998 worked with a British media company to report on how cancer rates were spiking among Uyghur workers who were laboring in a Nuclear testing facility.

Tohti believes that this practice of organ harvesting sprang from a strong demand from wealthy Saudis. According to him, demand far outweighs supply, which would explain the compulsory blood sample collections from Uyghurs, to create a “live organ-matching database”.

Demand on the Black Market

After all, according to the director of Saudi Center for Organ Transplants Dr. Shaheen, 410 Saudis had purchased organs from black markets in China, Egypt, and Pakistan. And according to the European Parliament’s public health committee, illegally harvested kidneys can go for as much as USD $165,000 each.

It’s now possible to see signs on the floor of airports such as in Xinjiang that gives priority access to people transporting human organs.

Organ sign China photo

Source: Epoch Times

There is little more dystopian that I can think of than this kind of government-sanctioned DNA database of Uyghurs to allow for the systematic incarceration for human organ harvesting and all kinds of other torture than this story.

As journalist CJ Werleman points out in his article covering this story,

“These crimes against humanity are every bit as horrific as they are unimaginable, but given Uyghur activists have described to me and many others how Uyghur Muslims detained in concentration camps are being subjected to gang rapes, sterilization programs, systematic torture, forced marriage to Han Chinese citizens, forced disappearances and executions, there’s every reason to believe claims of live-organ harvesting barely scratch the surface of what is the largest cultural genocide of Muslims in modern times.”

2018: A Year in Review for Cyberpunk

I am grateful for the time afforded to me from Christmas through New Year’s to reflect on what the year has given me, and this year has been particularly giving as far as Cyberpunk is concerned, because it’s the year that I discovered the term. If you take a quick look at the posting history of this blog, you can see that it was born on March 20th, 2018. But my discovery of the term dated slightly before that, right near the beginning of the new year, in February when the legendary Altered Carbon series came out on Netflix. While binge-watching the series I discovered something within myself recognizing a passion that had been born long before that fateful cold afternoon–back when I saw The Matrix for the first time, in the blissful days of my childhood.

My, what a journey 2018 has been since then. After discovering that there was a name for the genre, linking The Matrix to Altered Carbon and then to Ghost in the Shell from the previous year, I dove headfirst into the genre. It was really those three movies that I loved so dearly that created the click in my head, that there was something here that linked them all. After some quick research I found my favorite Cyberpunk blog, Neon Dystopia, from which I found the most comprehensive definition for the term. I then looked up the “founding fathers” of the genre, having a bit of a hard time but finding some common denominators that the entire movement could be traced to. The two main ones that I found were the novel Neuromancer and the 1982 movie Blade Runner.  So I read the book, re-watched the movie, and then read the novel that was the loose inspiration of the movie, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I then moved on to more modern Cyberpunk, Snowcrash, while at the same time devouring any tv shows or movies I could get my hands on for the genre. Meanwhile, I read Ready Player One twice, and then went to see it in theaters during opening week. I created a reference book for all the media I was consuming, to help me keep track of what happened in them and the interesting ideas I discovered in each one. I created this blog as a way to post some of these reviews and ideas online, as well. It was also this year that I discovered synthwave, and some of my new favorite synthwave artists like Le Matos and Carpenter Brut.

I wrote to my favorite Cyberpunk blog, and then after months of waiting, I was happily rewarded by joining the writing team for Neon Dystopia, contributing to their weekly Last Week In Cyberpunk (LWIC) but also having my first review of cyberpunk media published, a review for Killtopia. It even inspired me to write my own Cyberpunk novel, for which I’ve already written an outline and have written the first couple chapters.

I wonder what 2019 will bring, but one thing I know for sure is that my love for everything Cyberpunk will continue. I will carry on consuming and writing about cyberpunk media, starting off with this new year with watching the newly released Bandersnatch episode of Black Mirror, and then hopefully from watching Replicas and then Battle Angel: Alita. I’m also excited to read the newest addition to my cyberpunk library, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, as well as learning more about Philip K Dick–his life, his writing, and his philosophy.

What about you, dear reader? When did you discover Cyberpunk, how, and will you be consuming more Cyberpunk media in 2019? What movies, books, TV shows, or music are you excited for?

Happy 2019!


The Lasting Legacy of Akira 30 years later

I was introduced to Akira relatively late, and the same could be said of when I watched Blade Runner for the first time. Both were ground-breaking, inspirational pieces of art, that wowed the viewers at the time but in my opinion haven’t aged particularly well if you’re seeing it for the first time.

Nonetheless, it’s fun to see how these older pieces of entertainment have inspired the works that are coming out nowadays. It inspired one of the main characters in the Duffer Brothers’ Netflix original, Stranger Things. It inspired director Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi)’s characters in his movie Looper as well. It also was used to show the vision for the Matrix Trilogy by the Wachowski brothers.

Ironically, Akira was itself inspired from some of the visuals in Blade Runner itself.

So how is Akira doing nowadays? Warner Brothers have been trying to make a live action film of it for over a decade, but many fans are worried such a remake will ruin the film, especially after a lot of criticism of whitewashing came from WB’s choice to cast Scarlett Johannsen as Major in their Ghost in the Shell live-action film.

So nothing official is in the works yet, but I would love to see a live action film of Akira obviously. I also thought, along with many Japanese people apparently, that the casting of GitS wasn’t a big deal.

For now, I guess I’ll have to content myself with this fan-made live-action trailer of what that film could look like.

For more on the legacy of Akira, and the sources of this article, click here.


Cyber Dystopia: Updates for the rest of 2018

I created Cyber Dystopia as a place to keep and cherish all my thoughts on the different media I am discovering and consuming in the realm of Cyberpunk. A vision I had for CD is for it to be a place where I could keep up with the Cyberpunk trends, including media that has been recently released, and media that is being released soon. A couple different excellent pending releases would include Akira: Battle Angel (which was supposed to be released in July of this year but was pushed back to December 2018) and Cyberpunk 2077, the new Cyberpunk video game by the creators of The Witcher that everyone is excitedly awaiting the release for.

I know I’ve been a bit MIA for the past couple months, but it’s been a busy time for me. I accepted a job to teach English at the University of Strasbourg come September, so I have been preparing for that. I also got married last week, which required a lot of planning and preparation. Now, however, I have one more month of living in the United States, before a honeymoon in Egypt and then a move to France in August. Because of this, I anticipate being able to dedicate more of my time to posting reviews and content of all the cyberpunk material I’ve been coming across, in a hope to not only keep it all in one place for myself, but also as an easy way to share it with you, the reader. A great part of this project consists in your responses as well, so if you feel the inclination, I’d love to hear your responses or any feedback about your take of the media I’m posting about. Reactions are great, and I’m sure we’ll probably disagree about some things, which is what makes this whole thing fun–where we all agree to disagree in a world without rules but instead with steadfast independent thought.

Well, for now at least.

-Alex, founder of Cyber Dystopia