Cyberpunk Edgerunners is awesome, the latest in a recent line of impressive anime video game adaptations. I enjoyed the low-level cheating of its eclectic sci-fi punk cast as they navigate the never-ending dystopia that is Night City. It features a more heartfelt story than Cyberpunk 2077, with more likeable characters (not difficult, considering Keanu Reeve’s relentless – and inevitable – Johnny Silverhand dickhead). Edgerunners, however, offers a glimmer of hope, and not just for its fictional characters. Prove that CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk is still worth fighting for, despite everything.
CYBERPUNK 2077 SPOILERS ARE FORWARD.
At first I thought it was impossible. The launch of Cyberpunk 2077 was a car crash as catastrophic as any viral glitch the game spit out of some overloaded intersections in Night City. I had thought that CD Projekt would fulfill its legal obligations and move on, like a cruel body washing its hands of a shady deal gone wrong. Remember Witcher? Please remember Witcher!
Hand. CD Projekt has released update after update, announced an expansion (there will only be one, attention) and now has released Cyberpunk Edgerunners, which, as I said, is great. The numbers of players have increased. Surprisingly, Cyberpunk 2077 is the most played single player game on Steam. Take that, Game of the Year on hold, Elden Ring.
I played Cyberpunk 2077 when it came out, struggled with incomplete search bugs and crashes only to die on a roof. I told myself I’d replay the game when the next-gen update came out, and as I reinstalled and fought for the prologue, I couldn’t force myself to grind Night City again.
And that, I thought, was that. I didn’t think I’d ever want more Cyberpunk from CD Projekt ever again. But after seeing Edgerunners, I do. I want CD Projekt to finally capitalize on their vision of Cyberpunk, their interpretation of Night City, because despite everything, there is something special here.
Maybe it’s the sound of a phone call, that metallic voice in your head when you answer. Maybe it’s the prospect of a living, breathing afterlife (I enjoyed the disco’s appearance in the anime, which evoked a warm feeling of ‘Been there!’). Flying cars? Yes thanks. Most importantly, 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 upcoming Cyberpunk video game has a harder time keeping up with the anime than its video game predecessor. When we watch the Edgerunners street boy lead sneak into school, bypassing drooling men jerking off on the street to VR porn, Night City feels fresh. When we pass the homeless people scattered outside V’s apartment in the game for the hundredth time, the world and its inhabitants become white noise.
Cyberpunk 2077 is apparently about a person losing his mind, but this is not, surprisingly, due to the increase. Rather, it is due to an inevitable, inevitable sabotage, a terrible turn of events in which the player has no say. Edgerunners talks about a child risking cyberpsychosis through a pain-fueled increase – a more interesting and recognizable premise, I think, though not a completely new one. In 2077, the increase has no consequences, neither in terms of aesthetics nor in terms of history. Edgerunners revolves around this problem.
This is the Cyberpunk I want to play: a game that asks interesting questions about pain, rise and love in a sci-fi dystopia dripping into the cool. And most importantly, I want to play a Cyberpunk with consequences. What are the consequences if I replace my spine with a machine that allows me to move faster than a bullet? And what happens when I finally realize that the car won’t bring my dead mother back?
Last week, CD Projekt insisted it is “totally, fully committed” to further developing Cyberpunk’s IP, despite Phantom Liberty being confirmed as the game’s only expansion. After seeing Edgerunners, I really hope CD Projekt gives Cyberpunk another chance.