What Exactly Makes a Video Game Have Cyberpunk Style?
As the year slowly draws to an end, the video game industry remains enthusiastic towards the release of Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt Red’s upcoming action-RPG arrives on November 19th and continues to garner criticism and praise. While players flock to preorder their copy, many fans are wondering: what exactly makes a video game have cyberpunk style? Does art direction, gameplay, and story play a role? The staff at GamingROI has compiled a short history of the cyberpunk sub-genre so let’s dive in.
The easiest way to define cyberpunk style is through the dichotomy of the genre’s high-tech and low life themes. Popularized in the 1980s, cyberpunk communities often rely on advanced technology, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and futurist robotics. Most cyberpunk narratives take place in the deep future; however, any setting dominated by irregular technological progress can fall into the cyberpunk genre. Such qualities lead to transhumanism opportunities, which the underprivileged utilize to overcome challenges.
Although technological advancement should lead to increased quality of life, depravity and suppression define cyberpunk societies. Criminal activity proliferates ghettos and slums, and governments embrace corruption. While opportunity exists for an equal distribution of resources, society remains trapped in a paradigm of “haves” and “have-nots”. The inequality causes citizens to adopt a pragmatic approach to life, which often results in anarchy and mayhem.
Why Cyberpunk is so Popular
Given the significant divide between technology and welfare, the cyberpunk genre is the perfect backdrop for two prevalent storytelling tropes: the underdog protagonist and the prediction of future society.
The protagonist in a cyberpunk setting is often initially powerless to defy the corruption of government authority. Though circumstances have stacked the odds against the hero, technological advancement offers the means by which to dethrone immorality. The champion needs only the slimmest of chances to shift the balance towards prosperity and fortune, which creates opportunity for organic story arcs and dynamic character developments.
The prediction of future society is perhaps the most polarizing aspect of cyberpunk style. As modern-day society continues to embrace evolving technology, a growing community of opposition warns of the dangers of excessive dependence. While advancement promises the betterment of individual life, it also creates possibilities for fraudulent behavior. Conspiracy theories and slippery-slope arguments remain at the forefront of technological resistance, which remain infamous tropes on both sides of the debate.
The combination of these two features results in one of the most popular sub-genres in the entertainment industry.
Our Favorite Cyberpunk Games
We would be remiss if we did not provide our community with video game recommendations. Listed below are a few of our favorite cyberpunk games from the latest console generation:
- Final Fantasy VII Remake (PlayStation 4)
- Astral Chain (Nintendo Switch)
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- Katana Zero (all platforms)
- Detroit: Become Human (PS4)
But we want to know what you think. Are you excited for Cyberpunk 2077? When was the last time that you played a video game with cyberpunk style? Let us know in the comments below and the social media links on the right. Also, be sure to check out our other news items on Pokemon, Modern Warfare, Capcom, Blizzard and more.
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