CYBERPUNK 2077 is a game that I keep close to my heart but it’s a bit like Night City itself in that it is a relationship that is probably toxic for both of us. She’s a beautiful lady with all the pretty chrome, neon hair, and bad attitude but we’ve had our ups and downs. She wrecked my apartment, there were accusations of cheating, and then we hooked up again but I was already in another relationship. Harsh words were exchanged. Okay, sorry, this metaphor has wandered way off topic.
In any case, I played Cyberpunk 2077 on PS4 Slim, PS4 Pro, and PS5. I’ve put five hundred hours into the game and I have read a lot of the spin-off comics, played the tabletop RPG that proceeded it, and have always been a cyberpunk. Hell, I write cyberpunk fiction in general and wrote Daughter of the Cyber Dragons in anticipation of the game. However, it is a game that also disappointed me with its massive bugs, lack of promised features, and incredibly railroaded plot that didn’t live up to what could have been.
So I approached Cyberpunk: Edgerunners with trepidation. Anime and cyberpunk have a long and well-documented history with Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Cyber City Oedo 080, and Bubblegum Crisis being some of my favorite of both. I’d also heard good things about Studio Trigger, even though I wasn’t familiar with any of their works. Still, I had to ask myself whether or not they’d be able to produce something truly up to snuff. Did they?
For the most part, yes. This is going to be one of those “power metal” series. Which is to say that it’s not going to be for everyone but those people that do like it, will love it to an absurd degree. It is an ultra cynical, ultra violent, hyper-stylized series that perfectly encapsulates the Earthly Inferno that is Night City, California. Those who aren’t familiar with the games will not be fine but should note that Night City is basically Frank Miller’s Sin City except with better technology as well as a (slightly) more respectful attitude toward women.
The premise is David Martinez is a poor kid attending a rich kid’s school due to his mother somehow making enough Eddies on the side to send him there. David doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t care about becoming a corpo, and swiftly earns the everlasting enmity of his peers. His bad attitude doesn’t help him when a horrific accident claims the lives of his mother and he is left bankrupt by the medical expenses that weren’t enough to save her.
Not to get too deep into the series but David finds crime as a lucrative-seeming alternative to school and ends up joining a group of cyberpunks AKA Edgerunners. They’re a semi-friendly group at the best of times but David is deeply in love with a beautiful mercenary-thief named Lucy. Unfortunately, David is addicted to the power he feels getting his body cybernetically upgraded and doesn’t care about building a future for himself.
The animation is not remotely “realistic” but it is kinetic and eye-popping when on screen. Night City is beautifully realized and players of the video game will be able to spot numerous locations from the story. It is a story that can be an excellent introduction in the world of Mike Pondsmith if you haven’t played the games but will not be for the faint of heart. Also, “wrong city, wrong people” if you’re looking for everyone to end up rich as well as happy.