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2021.03.10

Cyberpunk 2077

When you read this post, you probably already know: the Cyberpunk 2077 hype did not pay off. However, I would like to explore some personal insights.

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Me-Character and My Character

As a Role Playing Game, you are someone else. A player might spend one full hour just tweaking the characters’ appearances, hair, weight, and eyelashes. Then calmly considering spending the scarce points on each attribute. One is not creating himself/herself, but a different being. Maybe a projection or simply experimenting with unique approaches.

Then the game starts.

You barely see yourself on the screen.

Shooters are much easier to do in first-person. CDPR said they opted for the first-person approach as part of the vision that the player should feel he is indeed there. They even removed some features of the game because it was not working well in the first-person.

But as I said before, since one spent so much love creating the character, it would be a wiser decision if one would see it more often. A third person would be a better decision. It was more valuable to see the custom V fighting than was seeing Geralt’s.

The result is that I have never really connected to the character that I created.

Also, there is a second take on character creation that is unique to Cyberpunk 2077 universe: augmentations and down-the-line customizations. A game advertised as being open regarding your physical appearance, it was noted by many the lack of visual modification during the game. Not even changing the hairstyle, present in a much less relevant The Witcher 3, was absent.

Clothing functions as both technical improvements and fashion. The game could embrace the idea each piece of clothing could have any game element or bonus. It would encourage players to find their style instead keep mixing weird styles just to get specific bonuses.

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Bugs and Cars

The game was plagued by technical issues. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube with hilarious situations. CDPR had to reimburse many players, and it was removed by the PlayStation Store days after the release, due to the impossible state!

I had no crashes but a ton of buggy behaviors. Citizens’ reactions, random explosions, and enemies’ misbehavior. In some critical emotional moments, a bug can spoil the fun. I finished the game trying to do ALL the achievements. But one was impossible to achieve due to a bug in a side mission.

Then cars… The Witcher’s horse, Roach, was a delicious surprise and set the benchmark to address rideable in video games. Just before launch, Geoff Keighley (one of the few people that tasted it at the time) said driving was super satisfying. The cars felt so bad. Driving was a burden. Felt like balloons, weightless. Bikes are even worse.

I was hoping to drive like a vagabond, exploring each inch of the city. But instead, I was using teleportation all the time.

The pace that the fixes were coming was also much desirable. I finished the game in 3 months, but some patches were released back then. CDPR always had a top-in-industry attitude regarding enhancing their games after release, but this time I believe they are subpar.

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Story

At the very beginning, you have to choose the background story. There are 3 possible starting conditions. And the first act considers this choice important, pointing to it frequently.

Then it becomes irrelevant. The mid-game is a generic Ubisoft open-world game or GTA. V is on a brink of death, but the game’s open-world nature let her have romantic relationships, racing, and help other people that, frankly, could wait until you solve your most significant issue.

While not very original “there is a dude inside your head”, their take is unique and grounded. However, CDPR opted to use other very boring tropes like “He was supposed to die, but he miraculously survived”. No need to put a bullet in V’s head to wake her up in the next scene.

The mid-game is an “ensemble a killer team” theme. It was nice but the team and the final mission are less like Ocean’s Eleven and more like The Avengers: group a team of 3 guys and storm into the castle. A good point is the insertion of several recurring characters in side missions. From love affairs to super AI or ex-cops, the player starts to care about them after some time.

The final orchestrated act was also lacking due to a single biggest factor, IMHO: there are no good villains. A good villain has to be seen, tasted, and feared often. If you show Adam Smasher only once, 50 hours late you could not care less about him. The other Arasaka family members are the same.

Think about the great movie and video game villains. They have a considerable amount of screen time, so the viewer has the chance to witness his evil intentions. Darth Vader, Joker, Glados, LeChuck, Ganon, Bowser.

A very good aspect of the story is the cultural references and jokes. More than once, I was caught laughing out loud with some of them.

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Conclusion

As one of the first games I have ever pre-ordered, I must say that knew what was coming. If I waited for some reviews first…

Cyberpunk 2077 is an ambitious project and several parts of it show it. However, despite the strong beginning, it becomes a generic open-world game with amazing graphics.

I finished the game and most of the achievements. 100+ hours on it. Yet, I feel disappointed. I even may get back to it in a couple of months or years, with extra content and numerous enhancements.

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2018.12.13

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

This title-provoking book tries to tell a very important lesson: not everything is worthy of your attention and worries. Most of the things that make us worried and down could be easily avoided if we maintain a strict rule of not giving a F.

It’s kinda a Buddhism in the modern blogger language. Like the book, Buddha says desire leads to suffering. So you must clear your mind of all desires, not giving a f*ck about stuff. Especially material stuff.

The first third of the book is pretty nice. Is a bit thought-provoking, giving you a sense of perspective on your life. I liked this part very much. I believe that it’s worth a reread from time to time. The second and third parts direct the same philosophy towards more practical aspects of life, like relationships, love, and work. There the advice becomes a bit too narrow and full of must-do and must not do kinda lists.

Overall, I liked the book. It’s that kind of self-helping book that shakes a bit the status quo and makes us reevaluate our lives.

My Rating: 7★★★★★★★
Goodreads: 4
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2018.10.14

Little Nightmares

In the same vain of critically acclaimed Limbo and Inside (review pending :P), from Playdead Games, Little Nightmares, from Tarsier Studios offers a great action puzzle adventure, full of mysteries.

The game, unlike the mentioned ones, are played in a 2.5 world. It’s mostly 2D, but there are some things that require the Z axis. To be quite frank, it is partially one of the problems with the game. More of that later.

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The story is a bit clearer than the Playdead games, but it still is a clueless journey. All these games offer a minimalist approach for storytelling. One can argue that it is a valid and logical choice in a situation where you are alone and running away from danger. However, the lack of exposure let the players in the darkness most of the time. You might eventually discover whada heck is going on, but chances are you will play-throughout the game without know much.

In a scale, Inside is mostly undecipherable, Limbo is an understandable (due to the simple boy runs premise) and Little Nightmares might have the most clear story.

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The giant grotesque figures are super creepy, but after some deaths, they do not offer the terror that one might except. They fall mostly in the range of stranger than from pure evil that want you dead.

The controls caused me several problems. I was expecting to use the game pad, but the analog joystick was too imprecise, especially during running. I was often falling into the void because I was running towards the camera instead sideways. I had to change to mouse+keyboard scheme, which was weird for such a game. Ironically, the 2.5 feature of the game was not that important. It mostly could be replaced to a tracked walk towards the Z axis, making the game essentially a 2D.

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The visuals are amazing. It totally delivers the premise of uncanny familiarity and strangeness. The awkward feeling that you know something is not right is present here. Your character is relatable. Its fragile nature makes the whole adventure more epic.

Because it has a chapter-like story. One could try to replay its best parts to manage to get achievements or contemplate better the scenarios.

Note: I like the game so much that I was compelled to try it’s 3 expansions. Nice.

My Rating: 7★★★★★★★
Metacritic: 84
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2018.06.11

Final Station

This small game is a 2D action-horror game.

It all happens in a middle of an alien-like invasion. They transform every human into a zombie like creature. The whole country (maybe the whole world?) is trying to survive. The train system is basically the only transportation system available.

You control a train conductor. You have to guide your train to station after station, performing some missions to save humanity.

It has simple controls, effective story, nice mechanics. You might even run a second time (because it is a quite short adventure) in order to do every possible achievement.

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My Rating: 7★★★★★★★
Metacritic: 76
2018.05.15

Zoe’s Tale

The fourth installment of the Old Man’s War series focuses on the same events of the third book, The Last Colony. This time it uses the perspective of the little girl Zoe, the adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan.

She is quite brilliant and clever. As a teenager, she is experimenting with love, fear, and adventures for the first time.

And you might find many important events from the previous book.

My Rating: 7★★★★★★★
Goodreads: 3.74
Bruno MASSA