Cyberpunk Edgerunners is fantastic, the latest in a recent line of awesome animated video game adaptations. I enjoyed the low-level shenanigans of its eclectic cast of sci-fi punks as they navigate the endless dystopia that is Night City. It features a heartier story than Cyberpunk 2077, with more likable characters (not difficult, considering the relentless – and inescapable – dickheadishness of Keanu Reeve’s Johnny Silverhand). Edgerunners, however, offers a glimmer of hope, and not just for its fictional characters. It shows that CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk is still worth fighting for, regardless.
CYBERPUNK 2077 SPOILERS ARE AHEAD.
I thought it was impossible at first. Cyberpunk 2077’s launch was as catastrophic a car accident as any of the virus glitches the game spewed at some crowded Night City intersections. I had thought that CD Projekt would fulfill its legal obligations and move on, like a cruel corp washing its hands of a shady business deal gone wrong. Do you remember Witcher? Please remember Witcher!
But no. CD Projekt has released update after update, announced an expansion (there will only be one, mind you) and has now released Cyberpunk Edgerunners, which as I said is fantastic. Player numbers have increased. Remarkably, Cyberpunk 2077 is the most played single player game on Steam. Take that, game of the year pending, Elden Ring.
I played Cyberpunk 2077 when it came out, battled incomplete quest bugs and hard crashes to die on a rooftop. I figured I’d play the game again when the next-gen update was released, and while I reinstalled and struggled through the prologue, I couldn’t bring myself to roam through Night City again.
And that, I thought, was that. I never thought I would ever want more Cyberpunk from CD Projekt again. But after watching Edgerunners, I do. I want CD Projekt to finally capitalize on their vision of Cyberpunk, their vision of Night City, because despite everything, there is something special here.
The Edgerunners trailer.
Maybe it’s the sound of a phone call, that metallic voice in your head when you answer it. Perhaps it’s the prospect of a living, breathing afterlife (I enjoyed the appearance of the nightclub in the anime, which evoked a warm feeling of “I’ve been there!”) . Flying cars? Yes please. But above all, I want to be an Edgerunner. I want to be an Edgerunner like the Edgerunners in Edgerunners. I want to be a cyberpunk.
In many ways, the next Cyberpunk video game has a harder time living up to the anime than improving on its predecessor. When we watch Edgerunners’ street kids protagonist sneak into school, stepping over salivating men masturbating to VR porn on the street, Night City feels fresh. As we run past the homeless people scattered outside V’s apartment in-game for the hundredth time, the world and its inhabitants become white noise.
Cyberpunk: Edge Runners.
Cyberpunk 2077 is ostensibly about someone losing their minds, but it’s not, surprisingly, due to the boost. Rather, it’s due to an unavoidable and unavoidable sabotage, a terrible turn of events over which the player has no say. a whole new one. In 2077, the increase has no consequences, either aesthetically or narratively. Edgerunners revolves around this problem.
This is the Cyberpunk I want to play: a game that asks interesting questions about heartbreak, augmentation, and love amidst a chill-drenched sci-fi dystopia. And, above all, I want to play a Cyberpunk with consequence. What are the consequences if I replace my spine with a machine that allows me to move faster than a ball? And what happens when I finally realize that this machine won’t bring back my dead mother?
Last week, CD Projekt insisted that it was “totally, fully committed” to further developing the Cyberpunk IP, despite Phantom Liberty confirmed as the game’s only expansion. After watching Edgerunners, I really hope CD Projekt gives Cyberpunk another shot.
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