When I looked at my calendar today I saw a missed notification for the release of Cyberpunk 2077 last week. And it got me thinking about my love affair with the realm of Cyberpunk. As I’m sure every young kid did I fell in love with Philip K Dick’s 1968 novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’. It showcased a weird and haunting dystopian future that was beautiful in its own way. It was the start of something great and the inspiration for so many amazing pieces of games and cinema. From Blade Runner, Akira, Gemini Rue and so much more. The world of Cyberpunk is all at once wild and uncomfortable, yet surprisingly familiar.
I’m sure that CD Projekt Red will make Cyberpunk 2077 worth our wait. But in the meantime, for those of you that want to get your mega-corp, neon city, cybernetics fix before September 17th. Here are some other cyberpunk games for you to fall down the rabbit hole with.
Cloudpunk by Ion Lands
One of the most iconic images on the cyberpunk genre is the view of an elaborate futuristic city populated with flying cars. A flying car just screams ‘The Future’ dontcha think? And here in the gorgeous, voxel-based Cloudpunk you’ll be playing out that future in the fairly unglamorous role delivery man. In your beaten-up hovercar, you’ll be zipping through the vivid neo city of Nivalus. Cloudpunk is featured in our list of Top 10 Games Coming Out This April.
You play as a Rania, a new driver for the somewhat ethically dubious courier company – Cloudpunk. This isn’t a kind of Taxi Simulator where you’ll need to rush around. Instead, you’re expected to explore, converse and uncover the stories that the city has to offer. Nivalus is chock full of unusual characters and during your deliveries, you’ll be meeting with people from the seediest underbelly to the top of the glittering Spire. From self-aware androids to CEOs to hackers. Cloudpunk is a relaxing immersion in the world of cyberpunk.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam
The Red Strings Club by Deconstructeam
In a future full of cybernetic implants it’s good to know that an honest bloke can still make a living as a bartender. Donovan is one of the last living humans without any cybernetic implants but he knows how to make a cocktail that will speak to your soul. The drinks you serve up can tap into different parts of a person’s psyche. A blend of tequila and vodka might make a lawyer with some juicy intel become flushed with pride, while absinthe and gin will tip her into temporary madness. You see not only are you a bartender but you’re an information broker and your personally slide of hand makes for pretty nifty business.
Success is all about reading an individual and trying to work out which avenues of questioning they’ll be most receptive to. With the help of drugs. In The Red Strings Club, there’s a corporate conspiracy to uncover. Mega corporation Supercontinent Ltd is developing something called Social Psyche Welfare, and the gist is that it will render every human incapable of depression or hate. And everyone who walks into the club knows something that will help you get to the bottom of things. It’s an interesting conundrum because would that really be so bad? Also, the irony of Donovan pumping people full of mind-altering chemicals in order to thwart a plot revolving around neurological manipulation isn’t lost on the characters either.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam, Mac, Linux
Technobabylon by Technorat Games
If you’re looking for old school pixel art cyberpunk then you should be following publisher/developer Wadjet Eye Games. To be fair a lot of their games are amazing including Gemini Rue, Resonance and Shardlight. And I’ll definitely be adding Gemini Rue to this list before the end. But Technobabylon came to mind first well because it aged better in terms of gameplay. In terms of the story, both are great and both deserve your attention.
Technobabylon has a kind of Ready Player One or Second Life level vibe to it. The year is 2087 and in this dystopian future, there exists the Trance, an addictive Internet space that has replaced any need for human interaction. You see the world through the eyes of three main characters. Charlie Regis is a technophobic cop and Max Lao is his younger partner. They’re investigating a series of murders that involve people having their memories mind-jacked from their subconscious. Their next target may be Latha an agoraphobic Trance addict. Technobabylon is amazing storytelling that can be a little convoluted and heavy but with a deep, carefully written story.
Platforms: PC – Steam, Linux, iOS
Neo Cab by Chance Agency
Neo Cab is featured in our top list of visual novels. One of the main themes of cyberpunk and I guess even our current future is automation. When does it go too far? In Neo Cab, you play as Lina, the last human driver-for-hire on the streets of Los Ojos. Driving has been almost fully automated and there might be a reason why. During your drives, you’re in charge of balancing your emotional health and reputation. Don’t blow up at a customer and lose your tips or sacrifice any information they might have. You need to stay on the streets and eventually discover the truth about your friend’s disappearance. The city is full of people and stories, your main job is to stay human.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam, Mac, Linux