Why Cyberpunk 2077 Just Wasn't Worth The Money

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Why I Got a Refund for Cyberpunk 2077


Brandon J. Wysocki

, posted 4 hours ago / 726 Views

Despite my excitement being tempered by repeated delays, in addition to the public confirmation of the 'crunch' utilized to actually deliver the game on the December 10th release date, I was eager to get my hands on Cyberpunk 2077.  Rumors of a host of bugs, albeit mostly minor, combined with the overall very positive coverage and critical reception, continued to form what I thought were very reasonable expectations.  However, after less than a week with the game on a Series X, I asked for - and received - a refund. 

Before I continue, it’s worth noting that my opinions are, of course, subjective and not necessarily indicative of what our official review may ultimately say, and that your mileage may vary.  It all started well enough – a panning view of the impressive Night City (a little more on it later), and a fun and energetic vibe established with the voiceover that comprises the title screen, as well as a nice variety of customization for your character.  Unfortunately, things began trending the other way as soon as the game actually began.

What first stood out to me was how mediocre the writing and voice acting was.  That's before Keanu Reeves starts delivering what may be his flattest performance ever for at least several hours.  The masculine protagonist’s voice has a stereotypical monotone and gravelly voice that I found to be immediately irritating.


Dialogue choices, at least early on, are all but irrelevant.  The majority of the conversations I experienced ultimately forced me to select all of the 2-4 choices available to progress the conversation and story.  It would’ve been better to just be a spectator and have the discussions transpire as the creators clearly wanted them to.  This is further demonstrated by the erratic inflection in the delivery of lines when you seemingly select dialogue choices in what I’d best describe as the 'incorrect' order. 

This was especially noticeable when I was discussing a certain 'big league' fixer with an associate.  I had two dialogue options and I opted for the second, asking for more information on this character.  I received a subdued warning about working with him.  Of course, I was subsequently forced to select the other option to move the conversation along.  My character still referred to this notorious fixer as though it was the first time, and sure enough the associate I was speaking with was taken back by the fact that I might being doing a job for him.  That’s just sloppy execution.

Jackie Welles

Circling back to stereotypes, the majority of characters I encountered were just that – unoriginal and uninteresting caricatures.  And that shallowness showed up repeatedly.  Jackie, a character who becomes your partner for the duration of the prologue, does so after the two of you carry out a brief but ostensibly harrowing smuggling mission.  Right after that mission, Jackie insists there’s some good chemistry between you two, but nothing preceding that proclamation really did anything to establish that.  The entertaining cut scene that follows does a much better job of demonstrating chemistry and comradery, but that doesn’t justify the baseless claim made to get to that point.

Adding to the clunky narrative experience is the presentation of the exposition.  Night City is a rich, diverse, and interesting city.  The scale is remarkable!  But rather than letting you peel back the layers of the onion and organically discover the depth, CD Projekt Red dumps information on you in a way that’s more similar to throwing potatoes at your head.  It often felt stunningly contrived. 

Night City

The shooting gameplay is serviceable, but I found at least some of the RPG and 'deeper' combat elements to be convoluted rather than enjoyably complex.  There’s supposed to be a little something for everyone, and a lot of variety, but it didn’t resonate with me.  Maybe rather than attempting to create such a deep system, the development team should have focused on ensuring that what was there worked well and felt satisfying.  It felt to me like that aspect was spread too thin to be particularly gratifying.

Rounding out the experience were a variety of technical issues.  Even on the Series X (running in quality mode, which provides one of the best experiences on consoles), I had to reboot the game in order to switch my view while driving, experienced random scenes where my character was inexplicably missing his clothes and genitals, brief periods of hang-ups while driving, finicky prompts to interact with characters, and at least a few other experiences that left me wondering whether it was a glitch or a questionable design choice.

Call me crazy, but despite a significantly better reception critically, Cyberpunk 2077 feels more like Crackdown 3 (a decent, but ultimately uninspired game set in an impressive city), rather than some sort of masterpiece.  Moreover, where are all the critics that took Mass Effect: Andromeda to task for technical issues, weird eyes, and bad lip-syncing?  But this time add in lackluster writing and acting, a host of technical hiccups, and an arguably unplayable experience on base Xbox One and PS4 consoles.  

Last Gen Issues

I am fairly confident that things would have gotten better had I pushed further into the game and allowed more patches to be released.  CD Projekt Red has a reputation for excellent post-release support and improvement.  Next-gen upgrades are in the pipeline as well, which should also help quite a bit.  I will almost certainly circle back to Cyberpunk 2077 down the road, but the experience I had last week was not commensurate with five years of development or deserving or the $60 price tag.  So, I requested a refund from Microsoft, and it was promptly provided.  There are numerous games, past, present & future, that are, for now, much more deserving of my time and money.


Brandon J. Wysocki longs to write a science fiction novel when he grows up (you could read some of it if you'd like by reaching out to him via Facebook).  In the interim, in addition to being a (neurotic) father, husband, and self-employed contractor/carpenter, he plays a lot of videogames and sometimes rambles about his experiences with - and opinions of - said videogames.

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