Video Game Reviews

Cyberpunk 2077: All Revved Up With No Place To Go

Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person action RPG developed by CD Projekt Red—the same company that brought the world the critically acclaimed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.  It was one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2019… and then for several different months in 2020… 

I had personally been waiting on this game since I first saw the trailer in… let me look this up real quick… Jesus, it was 2013. I waited for this game for seven human years

These words—”Coming, When It’s Ready—were at the end of a now-almost-a-decade-old trailer. I respected it. It signified that these people were taking the development of this game seriously enough not to release it until it was fully complete.

Jump to the beginning of 2020. When it got pushed back from the first quarter to the third quarter of that year, I told myself, “Well they did say that it would come out when it was ready, so they must be putting the finishing touches on this—the feather in the cap, if you will.” 

Well, here I am in 2021, and having played through Cyberpunk: 2077 I can honestly say that it was worth the wait…. 

Oh wait, no… it’s the opposite of that. Sorry, I often get those two things confused. 

While it wasn’t a disaster of the proportions that some claim it to be, it was a thoroughly underwhelming experience. I will say that there are some amazing things about this game. Unfortunately, they just don’t cut it when comparing them to the bad things, like…

A Maelstrom of Glitches

Now, most of you have probably heard about the litany of glitches that plagued Cyberpunk’s launch like a… well, like a plague. 

I was not privy to the majority of these, since I got my copy in January 2021. However, even by that time, there were issues that hounded my entire playthrough. 

Literal footage of my Cyberpunk playthrough.

The first, and most obnoxious, was the constant system crashes. These would happen for seemingly no rhyme or reason…

  • Getting into a car = system crash. 
  • Walking down the street = system crash
  • Hacking into a system to crash it? System crash = system crash. 

It was maddening and exhausting. It got to the point that my wife and I would usually say that “when it crashes next, we’ll stop playing and do something else” because it was almost guaranteed to happen at least once every time we played. 

Other than that, there were a number of other—minor—things that were more annoying than they were gamebreaking. This included, but was not limited to:

  • Items would be marked as new even if we’d viewed them a hundred times
  • Quest markers and waypoints would duplicate on the minimap and start moving around
  • The line that leads you to your quest objective would circle around on itself in a never-ending loop
  • NPC’s would appear and disappear at random
  • Items would be visible, but could not be picked up.
  • Wrist rockets would be installed, but would refuse to fire.
  • Enemies who were clearly dead would still shout that they were looking for us (from beyond the grave. WOOOooOOOoooOOoo spooky) 
  • Your character would die for no discernible reason. Just WHAM! You’re dead.

Sure, none of these were too terrible, but the frequency with which they happened was more than a little frustrating. 

Bright Lights, Big City

Now that I’ve shit on it a bit, let me take a step back and talk about my absolute favorite part of Cyberpunk 2077: Night City. 

I’m giving a ton of kudos to CD Projekt Red for making Night City feel like an actual city—or as close to one as I’ve seen in games in quite a while. 

It’s a bit hard to describe this in technical terms since there are so many small things that play a part, but I’ll try to be concise.

First off, the NPC’s are great (when they function properly). The sheer magnitude of people walking around the city is staggering, and so is the way they behave. They really do seem to be going about their business instead of just walking around aimlessly. I mean, they are walking around aimlessly, but they don’t seem to be, which is an important distinction. 


Night City also has a certain ambiance to it that often made me believe that it could exist someday in the future. 

Really, there is an alarming amount of detail that went into creating this behemoth of an open world:

  • The alarming amount of trash that scattered everywhere, but was somewhat shoved off to the sides. 
  • The billboards that shifted and blinked constantly. 
  • The worrying number of vending machines that sold tacos.

If I could go to the best/worst city of the near future, Night City would be it. 

I also enjoyed how the further you got from the population centers, the more abandoned the City seemed to become. The transitions between these sections of the city were near flawless, and it felt like you were just rolling into a different neighborhood…which, in fairness, you were. 

All of this, combined, made me relish the feel of the city. 

Unfortunately, this was all…

A Thin Veneer 

You see, there was very little substance to Night City beyond the fact that it looked amazing.

Most of the shops and storefronts were little more than a facade.

You know there’s nothing in there…

There were a few you could enter, but most were just for show. Not that I fault the developers for this. Allowing all the buildings to be enterable would have been a nightmare… impressive, but a nightmare.

Still, after a few hours of walking around Night City, you start to feel like there is no reason to spend your time exploring. While there were things to stumble upon here and there, they were few and far between. 

This left me feeling unenthused about going to a new area. I mea,n I would go to the quest markers, but I never saw a building and was like “Ooooo I should go and check that out!”. It was more like, “I guess I’ll go there if there is a quest? Maybe?” 

And speaking about quest markers, there were…

Too Many Quest Markers

The number of small markers on your map is… daunting, to say the least. I tried to do all the “Assault in Progress” quests in Watson, the starting area, and found that it was more like a game of whack-a-mole. The higher you get your “Street Cred,” the more missions become available to you. So the more quests you do, the more markers appear. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means that there is a lot of content to get through. 

The issue is that after the first twenty or so, you’ve seen pretty much all the game has to offer. Sure, a few of the different regular quests are pretty cool, but the majority of them are laughably similar. It can take an awful lot to give me Side Quest Fatigue, but Cyberpunk managed to get me there faster than most.

I had to go with the low-hanging fruit.

I’ve found that ignoring the markers and only doing the Fixer quests if I wandered close enough to them was the only way to play this without my mind melting from tedium. 

Some Things These Gonks Did Right

I don’t want to belittle too many aspects of the game, because some of it was really well done. So I’ll make a quick list just to touch on some of the high points before we conclude this review. 

  • The main story is pretty great, especially the beginning
  • The missions with actual story components were very well done
  • The combat was fun, if a little repetitive
  • Some of the voice acting was great
  • Having Keanue Reeves as Cyberpunk’s angry drunken Cortana was amazing
I’m, like, in the Matrix, dudes

Flatlined on Arrival

Overall, Cyberpunk 2077 was not worth the Eddies I paid for it. 

I really wish that I could say differently. I wanted so desperately to love this game, but I just can’t do it. It is a passable game, with some serious aesthetics, rich lore, and an in-your-face personality, none of which were used very effectively. 

Maybe that’s what happens when a game is hyped up so much for so long (looking at you No Man’s Sky).

Either way, I’m giving Cyberpunk 2077 a not so chrome 6/10

In the end I…

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Late to the Game Reviews, Video Game Reviews

Late to the Game: Katana Zero–Fast Frenetic Fun

Katana Zero is a 2D action platformer game that came out in April of 2019. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I missed this title when it first dropped. I did see something about it near the beginning of 2020, but I figured I would get to it eventually.

I said “eventually.”

Sometimes, when I get to a game that has been out for a number of years, I can find it underwhelming. This is especially true if someone has taken the formula of the original game and improved upon it, or created something entirely new with the same premise. While I will say that it is unfortunate that I waited so long to play Katana Zero, I will also say that it has in no way diminished this game in my eyes.

So, for the gamers who sometimes don’t have the cash to buy a game when it first comes out, who are inundated with other games to play, or have too many responsibilities, I’ve taken the time to see if this game is worth your time and money two years later. 

Live / Die / Repeat

Katana Zero takes place in a Cyberpunk Neo-Noir future. You play as Subject Zero, a katana-wielding amnesiac who works as an assassin for a mysterious organization. 

Zero has two abilities that make him uniquely suited to be an assassin. 

The first is time dilation. He can slow down time, allowing him a level of speed and accuracy that far exceeds that of a normal human. This is used to slow down the frenetic action sequences and give yourself some time to breathe as you figure out how to deal with the onslaught of bullets.

Just call me Neo

While this ability is helpful, it runs out quickly and takes some time to replenish. I often found myself opting not to use it until it became absolutely necessary to do so. 

The second ability is precognition. You see, death comes swiftly in Katana Zero. One hit, and you die. That’s it. Precognition allows Zero to see the results of any action he takes before he takes it. This essentially means that he can see all possible outcomes to any given situation. When you are playing the game, you are simply playing out those possibilities until you find one that allows you to succeed.

When you do finally complete an area without dying, you are shown security footage of your perfect run. The best part about this is that it does the run at full speed, leaving out any time dilation and making you look like a complete badass. 

A Marriage of Form and Function

What is, hands down, my favorite aspect of Katana Zero is how the gameplay mechanics affect the story, and vice versa. 

Zero’s time dilation and precognition are used to facilitate the storytelling. Sometimes you’ll be in the middle of a mission and it might cut back to an earlier point in the game to show you that Zero essentially lives in a reality unstuck from time itself. You can never truly tell where or when he is in the story because of this. 

How Zero must feel, like, ALL the time

The precognition also lends itself to some very well-done scenes. These include scenes where you play with dialog and death, and others where your security footage playbacks are used to interesting effect. If I went into any more detail it would likely spoil the fun, but needless to say I was very impressed with the way the story used Zero’s abilities. 

The cherry on the top of everything is that Katana Zero is an absolute joy to play. The controls are responsive and tight, and the gameplay is fluid and easy to learn. There is a level of skill involved, as later sections of the game require pinpoint accuracy and impeccable timing, so that’s something to be aware of before purchasing the game.

Though sometimes dying is half the fun.

I will say that there are a couple of levels where you need to use a stealth mechanic that is, unfortunately, not as fun as bandying about cutting people down with your sword. These sections weren’t exactly bad, but I felt that they broke up the action in a weird way. 

What’s There to Talk About? 

Another aspect of the game that I found truly interesting was the way dialog was presented.

You don’t just get one or two dialog options per interaction. Instead, you start off with one off-the-cuff answer that usually derails whatever the other person was going to say.

Baba Booey Baba Booey Baba Booey

If you wait long enough, however, you’ll open up some other options that might yield more information… and they probably won’t piss off the person who’s talking quite as much.

While most of the dialog options never really lead to any big changes within the game, it was a nice way to spice things up when you weren’t running around killing everything that moves. 


While I have already mentioned a couple of times that I really like how the story is told, I also enjoyed the story itself. It may not be the greatest story ever, but it hits some highs–and lows–that I found pretty impactful.

It reminds me of films like The Man From Nowhere or Safe. Basically, a guy with an unknown, yet violent, past kills his ways through an army of faceless bad guys.

Like So.

The only real difference between those movies and this game is that in the movies, the guy is protecting a small child, whereas the game merely has Zero hanging out with one from time to time. 

I also enjoyed that the game wasn’t told in a strictly linear way. There are dream sequences that might be flashbacks, flashbacks that might be inaccurate, and even some future flashes. While it can be confusing, I never found these aspects to be unwelcome. In fact, sometimes the best parts were me staring blankly at the screen trying to figure out what, exactly, was going on. 

Final Cut

Overall, Katana Zero is a game you should not miss out on. The story, while short, is told in a unique and interesting way, and holds a surprising amount of emotional weight. The gameplay is phenomenal, with fast-paced action and pixel-perfect controls. And the game itself is a near perfect combination of the two.

I’m giving Katana Zero a stylish 9/10 for being unapologetically cool with its retro aesthetic and neo-noir setting, and for not only attempting some risky design elements, but for pulling them off without a hitch. 

Overall, Katana Zero is a game you should not miss out on. The story, while short… is fantastic…and… and told in a… unique… have we done this before?