Cyberpunk 2077: Gameplay review

Alright, fine. Since 45 minutes of Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay has been released, I guess I have to join the bandwagon and give some of my thoughts. I mean, considering how fast Neon Dystopia wrote their review of the gameplay despite their usually very slow write-ups of current Cyberpunk news (they take time to write their content because of the high quality and extensive write-ups, an understandable limitation), I can understand how this is breaking news and indeed very exciting.

I should preface this review, however, by stating that I am very cautious to write about Cyberpunk 2077. The reason for this is that the hype over this game is, honestly, quite exhausting. It seems in the cyberpunk community that every day there’s a new story with gossip about news-that-isn’t-news, from the night/day cycle, featured car that can be driven, characters and their costumes, lighting, if you can imagine an element about the game there’s probably been some write-up about it hyped up in the lack of concrete news about the game. This is why I’ve been hesitant to comment about the game. Hell, if you google “Cyberpunk” and click the news section, all you’ll find will be news about this videogame. I shouldn’t have to tell you, dear reader, that Cyberpunk is a lot more than just one upcoming videogame. It’s one of the reasons why I started this blog, so people can know about synthwave music, Neon music and video festivals, and upcoming movies and news. You know, things other than just Cyberpunk 2077.

It’s my suspicion that Cyberpunk is currently experiencing a revival, facilitated in part by Altered Carbon and the sci-fi push in Netflix, as well as a series of recent box office hits these past couple of years with movies such as Blade Runner 2049, Ghost in the Shell, and this year’s Ready Player One movie adaptation with none other than the great Stephen Spielberg.

If you ask a common person what cyberpunk is, however, I bet they won’t know exactly what it is. That will soon change once this game finally comes out, because it’s in the name of the game itself.

What comes after that is anyone’s guess.

Anyways, on to the review of the gameplay footage.

I think whether or not you’re excited by this game depends a lot on the type of gamer you are. Do you like sinking hours upon hours into a videogame, or do you like having a simple storyline to start and finish because you have a job and responsibilities? Do you prefer stealth games, fighting games, racing games, or first person shooters?

Well, regardless of what you like, it sure seems like Cyberpunk 2077 will have a bit for everyone.

It seems like it has equal parts Grand Theft Auto, Deus Ex, Fallout, and Mass Effect. You can get into cars and drive around, and complete missions, but there are main missions and side missions, and all your choices matter. There is no right or wrong, only grey areas. The game is visually similar to Deus Ex or Mass Effect, with the ability to go a bit into stealth, but an interesting choice is to have the game be exclusively in first person (except for the car racing parts). I personally love this choice, and the fighting gameplay style looks so smooth and fluid that I could mistake it for a cyberpunk-y version of Halo mixed with Gears of War in its cover system (plus it has bullettime!). I’ve always felt that first person games will always make the game more immersive, which is why I played almost all of Skyrim and Fallout in first person when I had the choice.

The dialogue in this game at first glance looks extensive, which is great. The voice acting also looks like it’ll be pretty good. I’m of the impression that too many choices and paths can be overwhelming–I’d rather only have a few options and I usually stick to the main stories before I play through the game again completing more side quests. So I’m concerned the amount of side missions in this game might be too much.

I must say, though, the visuals in this game look absolutely gorgeous. If you’ve read my review for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you’ll note how much of a missed opportunity I felt it had by making literally everything everywhere orange and yellow (something they remedied in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided). Not so with this game, it seems. I’ve seen in some cyberpunk boards that people wanted night all the time, with even more neon and less bright-harsh-natural sunlight, but I’m perfectly happy with the natural sunlight. There will be plenty of places to go inside that will hide the sunlight, and I think living in a constantly dark world would seem a bit unrealistic anyways.

What are your thoughts on the gameplay reveal? Are you excited for this game as well? Let me know below.

48 minute gameplay video can be found here.

Next Gen: Review

This movie came up on my radar about a month ago, thanks to Netflix’s advertising on their own website since it’s a Netflix original. Somehow I knew that I would like this movie, and had been eagerly awaiting its release. Well, folks, it finally came out yesterday, and I must say, it didn’t disappoint. Next Gen is a charming children’s cyberpunk tale about humanity and adolescence woven through the narrative of robots and machines.

The story is about a young girl called Mai who was part of a happy family until one day her father gets into an argument with her mother and decides to leave. This causes a lot of anger and angst in the young girl, who grows up to become a rebellious teen. Her mother decides to get a robot to fill the space that her father left, but this results in her mother loving robots while Mai despises them because of how they can never replace a proper human.

In case you’re worried this is ruining the movie, have no fear. Mai’s entire backstory is told wordlessly at the beginning of the movie alongside the movie credits, which was an interesting artistic touch but personally I’m never in favor of a movie needing to explain its world to you before it even starts. Some of my favorite movies have always been ones where they never held your hand or helped explain their world to you, where instead you as a viewer have to make it out as you go along.

Anyways, a friendless Mai meets a new robot, 7723, who might make her change her mind about the value of robots. Together they then band together to help save the world from a nefarious plot that I will not reveal, but being a true cyberpunk movie, you can probably guess what might happen well into the movie.

I personally loved this movie. There is a good amount of action, and the direction and scenes are incredibly creative and felt akin to the visuals I might see in a high-quality anime or intense big-budget video game.

The soundtrack was quite good, the characters were believable and relatable (especially Mai), and the visuals were beautiful as well.

Considering that this is a children’s movie and I wasn’t their target audience, I thought it was still a very enjoyable movie. I look forward to more cyberpunk movies like it, especially because for me, the cyberpunk tropes can get a bit too violent (like Altered Carbon), too slow (like Blade Runner), or too dark and depressing (like Black Mirror). To watch a neon high-tech movie where humanity is slipping away with an excess of robots in their false utopia was highly refreshing when considering how light and fun all the robots were. For instance, the robot toothbrush fighting to get into Mai’s mouth so it could fight her tartar was a laugh-out-loud fun moment. You don’t get a lot of those these days with Cyberpunk.

In summation, I would give this movie a 10/10 taken as it is, unless you don’t like kids movies or expect to have your mind blown, in which case it’s probably not for you. I can’t seem to find any faults in it really.

Let me know what you think below!

 

Neon Rhode Island: More than a Synthwave music festival

In exactly one week, you will be able to participate in a 3 day incredible music festival called Neon, in Rhode Island. Neon describes itself as a cutting-edge Synthwave music festival with a massively themed video arcade, cult and genre film festival, console gaming time capsule, and iconic guests and panelists. It’s a Retrofuturism love letter to late 20th century entertainment, an aesthetically and sonically immersive experience.

What is retrofuturism, though?

According to their website, Retrofuturism is a term coined in 1983, defined as “a revived enthusiasm for depictions of the future created in the past; also, the use of a style considered futuristic in the past.”

This enthusiasm for the future in a past aesthetic, it just so happens, is a perfect home for Cyberpunk as well, although Neon makes sure to distinguish between the genre we love and Retrofuturism at Neon.

It’s essence is Stranger Things, epic synths, midnight drives, obsolete tech, hard video games, faded summer polaroids, and neon-drenched danger. It’s flickering neon, killer robots, rain-soaked pavement, eternal sunsets, cyberpunk skylines, and obsolete technology.

This festival sounds like a retro gamer or cyberpunk fan’s dream. I so wish I could go, but unfortunately I’ve left the United States already and will be out of the country for quite a while.

Neon will have seventy-five 80s and 90s restored video game and pinball arcade cabinets, for hours of fun. It’ll have non-stop screenings of weird and terrible old movies. It’ll have workshops for electronic projects so you can learn how modular synths work. It’s discussions about the genre and what’s to look forward to. There will be a retro computing time capsule, and a LAN room. It’ll also have themed shopping, vendors, and artists, as well as a Yacht Rock lounge for when you need to ‘sail away from it all’.

Musical guests will include Waveshaper, Glitch Black, Protector 101, Rolly Mingwald, Neuron Spectre, Future Holotape, Dana Jean Phoenix, Let Em Riot, and more. Guests include cyberpunk illustrator and game designer Rob Shields

I’m not personally familiar with any of these artists, but the great thing about conventions is that it gives you the chance to discover new artists!

Neon will take place in the Crowne Warwick Plaza, not far from the airport.

The Neon team is led by Grant Garvin, a veteran of immersive events who always wanted to create a festival focusing on synthwave and nostalgic things. In 2013 he created a cyberpunk Synthwave event with Arcade High and Let Em Riot. Unfortunately, only 20 people showed up, indicating that the movement was still a bit premature. However, in subsequent years when Synthwave became popular with the likes of artists such as Perturbator, things have changed.

I can’t wait to see if Neon is a success, and if so (which I hope it will), what future conventions and festivals Garvin or others have in store.

To buy tickets and learn more about Neon Rhode Island, check them out here.

To read more about news of the event, check out this article from Vehlinggo here.

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.

 

Gunship: Cyberpunk electronica with Saxophone and HQ music videos

Gunship is a British 2010 synthwave band that describes its music as “influenced by the soundtracks of 80s film, television shows, video games & cartoons” and “a neon soaked, late night, sonic getaway drive, dripping with luscious analog synthesizers, cinematic vocals and cyberpunk values, exploding from the front cover of a dusty plastic VHS case which has lain forgotten since 1984.”

The other thing that it is, other than doing an amazing job of describing its own music, is create music videos with a surprisingly high production value. The majority are stop-motion clay or cartoons, but they aren’t afraid of combining live action in their videos as well.

The fact that they have over 75,000 YouTube subscribers with only 21 videos posted is a testament to their high-quality music and visuals.

I mentioned Gunship in my post about Ready Player One, how they did a tribute video to Art3mis and Parzival. They also like to do a lot of gory, over the top music videos. So if you like that kind of thing, it’s a lot of fun. Most of their videos also have very nice vocals, which isn’t always found in most Synthwave nowadays.

Their upcoming work includes a song called Woken Furies, labeled and inspired after one of Richard K Morgan’s books and even borrowing his voice for some of the vocals. They’ve also done songs inspired by such places as Stranger Things, wrote a song for a retro documentary called “Rise of the Synths”, and wrote other songs with names such as “Cyber City” and “Drone Racing League.”

You can read a lot more all about Gunship and their inspirations in this excellent piece by The Verge.

If you like their music, keep an eye out for their album Dark All Day coming out in October 2018.

 

 

Your One Stop Shop For Everything CyberPunk