By Adele Chapline Smith | Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — “Cyberpunk 2077” (CD Projekt), a fast-paced action-adventure title that warns of a dystopian future where glamor, greed and rogue science reign, is being hyped as one of the best games of 2020.
Yet its gory violence, unsavory sexual elements and frequent vulgar language make it suitable for few.
Those who could be adversely affected by flashing lights, moreover, should be warned that they are unavoidable within the gameplay.
In Night City, technology and corporate capitalism run rampant. That makes it the perfect playground for V, the mercenary protagonist whose male (voice of Gavin Drea) or female (voice of Cherami Leigh) persona gamers control. V is out to steal a biological implant chip called Relic from Arasaka, a mega-company that controls much of the metropolis.
When the heist goes sideways, V is forced to self-embed Relic and, as a result, ends up unwillingly sharing head space with the programmed personality of rock star-turned-terrorist Johnny Silverhand (voice of Keanu Reeves). Silverhand is bent on avenging himself against Arasaka while V needs to find a way to survive — which means jettisoning Johnny.
The citizens of Night City are armed to the teeth due to sky-high crime rates, and bloody mayhem breaks out frequently. V uses a combination of guns, melee weapons and explosives in combat. For peaceable players willing to meet the added challenge, however, nonlethal playthroughs are available.
Players may engage in liaisons with other characters or anonymous sex workers. Though brief, these scenes are fairly explicit.
Gamers of faith should be especially aware of one mission involving a prisoner who chooses to be crucified like Christ in reparation for a murder he committed. While this is obviously a bizarre decision, the sequence is respectful, albeit the fact that the last words of Jesus are recited as though they somehow applied to the dying criminal feels thoroughly inappropriate.
Additionally, there are references to Santa Muerte, a female death deity perversely venerated as a saint by some Mexican cults.
Players can make consistently moral choices for V. Yet Night City remains a grim, seamy venue only those prepared for a gritty experience should venture to visit.
Playable on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Google Stadia and Microsoft Windows.
The game contains much gory violence, gruesome images, strong sexual content, including semi-graphic activity and full male and female nudity, and frequent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, games whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M — mature.
Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.