Spoilers for Cyberpunk 2077 follow. If you haven't finished the game, do not proceed forward.
When Cyberpunk 2077 released on December 10th, 2020, I was really excited. I expressed this excitement in my early impressions on the game. I was quite impressed by what CD Projekt Red had achieved and was loving every moment of playing the game. Combat was fun, combining a mix of hacking and gunplay and approaching each enemy encounter with my arsenal of weapons made me fell powerful, super powerful at times.
Soon, however, the issues of the game came to light. Early on, it was easy to ignore the empty streets, the blurry textures and the pop ins, but progressing through the game, it got harder to turn a blind eye to it. The empty city seemed haunting, something that seemed to make more sense in the desert world of Mad Max than in a supposed hustling-bustling city.
But despite its fair share of issues, it was hard not to be awestruck by the environments in the game. This was further augmented by the variety of characters and side quests, some of which transported you to a different zone altogether. This is where you could see CDPR's A game. This is why I lost myself in the world and enjoyed every moment of it.
I was considering how to break down the experience of this game and decided to do it first through the NPCs and their side quests. We meet a lot of interesting and memorable characters in Night City and here are a collection of my thoughts on them.
First and foremost is Goro Takemaru. From being Saburo Arasaka's bodyguard to becoming your close confidant, it is quite a journey with Takemaru. A loyal follower of Saburo Arasaka, he works hard to unveil his son, Yorinobu Arasaka, as the person behind his murder.
Offering helpful advice and the occasional snark comment, you find that Takemaru is a pretty solid person with strong ideals and beliefs. He had come up from the streets and was conscripted into Arasaka's corporate army. He had survived through a lot and determined to get justice for his master's death. As I understood his motivations and determination, I couldn't stop, but to admire this man and help him in his journey.
My only regret is that I did not save him when I had the chance. There is a point in the story where we were attacked by Arasaka forces and Takemaru is caught in the chaos. I never realized that I could go back and save him. By the time, I found out it was too late. This is CDPR at its best; getting me attached to this character so much that his death really had an impact.
Jefferson & Elizabeth Peralez
The Peralezes are a power couple in Night City. Jefferson Peralez is standing for the post of mayor of NC after the mysterious circumstances of death of the previous mayor. You get hired to investigate those circumstances and find out if there are any other dangers to the Peralezes. What starts out as a simple storyline of murder done for political gain gets twisted into something even darker and more mysterious.
The Peralezes are under constant surveillance by their security company with some unknown backing. Further it does stopped there. They are being brainwashed with new memories being inserted into their minds. As you uncover the mystery, Elizabeth reaches out to you and begs you not to tell Jefferson the truth. She has known for a while and has kept quiet under threat of death.
It is scary as you realize the far reaching consequences of this. Then, Johnny goes and suggests that this maybe the doing of a rogue AI, who wants to control the city. How do you stop or fight an all-powerful, omnipresent AI with no physical body?! I love how CDPR just left this hanging in the air. Nothing is more scary than a threat undefined, especially when it's closer to reality. It would indeed years, if not decades, before we have autonomous AI, but to even consider the possibilities and the dangers, this seems to be in the ballpark.
As you have a final meeting with Jefferson Peralez to tell him of your findings, you can see a guy in the distance watching your conversation called Mr. Blue Eyes? Who is this guy and why does he look a lot like Jefferson? This is a mystery left unsolved.
In the end of the game, it turns out Jefferson becomes the mayor of NC. Rogue AI controlling the mayor of a city. The repercussions are huge. What drives humans is easier to define than an AI.
Joshua Stephenson - The Jesus guy
I met Joshua Stephenson by coincidence. I was not happy about waiting for a mission, but since this got added to my backlog, I did the mission late in the game. Bill Jablonski wants our help to take out a convict, who killed his wife but was going to be pardoned. That is how I met Joshua.
It turns out Joshua had killed quite a few people, including Bill's wife and was on the path for redemption. He asks you to join him in his journey and you soon discover that he has turned to religion and wants to be crucified like Christ. He believes that his sacrifice will shake the people of Night City and make them believe in God. This experience was going to be recorded as a BD.
This mission questioned the ethics of the media in the future. They believed that broadcasting this live and selling BDs of it will make the ratings soar and a lot of money. This seems like a natural evolution of today's media. Are we headed for such a desolate future? It feels like an episode of Black Mirror.
On the other hand, it raises the question of the how will religion and redemption be treated in the future. Is this the reward for redemption?
Delamin is introduced to you as the AI who owns a premium cab service. Being an AI, he works on getting the task done pragmatically and yet you can see he has a strong personality. Running a cab service in Night City is no joke and this seems to get to him as his personality fragments.
Beep, Beep, motherf**ker
Each and every one of his fragments, rogue Delamin cabs portray a unique personality, some bordering on deeply philosophical to borderline suicidal. As I chased down the cabs, I found them deeply meaningful in their conversations, projecting points on why they split from the core.
Humans, with their limited knowledge and memories, are themselves susceptible to multiple personalities. How many times have we found ourselves debating with our own conscious on how to define ourselves? Here is an intelligent AI, who has access to vast amount of knowledge and no limit to memory, especially with no fear of its own mortality. I would say it is more surprising that Delamin had only 8 variants in his personality.
Starting out as strangers, I got to understand the motivations and desires of these random NPCs in the world and even became really close to some of them. I found that the game had some of the most unforgettable characters in recent memory. I will elaborate my thoughts further on many of the main characters in my next article.