In my entire life. In fact, this game genuinely seems to be at war with itself and I have no idea how it happened. There are obviously going to be major spoilers for the main plot of Cyberpunk.
I want to be clear that I feel like the first act (the game officially breaks itself in separate acts) of the game is incredible. You're playing a character trying to move up in Night City. Despite the map being blocked off and only being able to explore one section of the city, you feel like you have the freedom to explore and engage with the world as you see fit. We don't really need to get into the broken promises of CDPR and the fact that you can't really engage with the world on a compelling level. That's not really relevant. Once I understood what the game was, flaws and all, I still found myself enjoying it.
Then The Heist happens (easily the best main mission in the game) and once we get introduced to Johnny Silverhand, the game completely falls apart for me. So you learn that V pretty much has a terminal illness. I'll keep these details brief, but Johnny Silverhand's psychological construct is taking over V's mind and V is going to die. V is going to die very soon. I genuinely want to ask the creators what the fuck they were thinking with this plotline.
I think a lot of people tend to critique the open world genre because a few of them have main plots that feel way too urgent that the act of doing side content feels unimmersive but I have never seen it on the scale of Cyberpunk 2077. To the degree that I feel like I can't just excuse it. It actively makes the game difficult to play. It seems as if the creators wanted to tell a personal, intimate story about mortality but this narrative just doesn't jive with the structure and format (open would RPG) that they chose to tell that story in. And I just don't understand how they didn't catch that.
It's not impossible to tell a personal story in an open world game. Hell, Horizon Zero Dawn is actually a very personal story. But for me, Aloy's quest for answers about her heritage never seemed in conflict or undercut my intrigue with the world and my interactions with it. Aloy had the freedom to get distracted by other things. In Cyberpunk, my V is always an idiot with a death wish because I'm not doing the main story, I'm doing side content that CDPR wants us to do. My V is dumbfuck who's buying up cars she's not going to be able to drive in a few weeks. My V is stupid AF for getting hundreds of thousands of "eddies" she's never going to be able to spend. This game actively unimmerses and punishes people that want to engage with it the way the creators intended.
Cyberpunk 2077 actually takes it a step further than any game I've ever played. Even in playing optional side missions that are in no way related to the main quest, V will get this "Relic Malfunction" visual cue and start hacking up a lung like she's Walter White as the game constantly pokes and prods you that you have this huge issue that needs to be taken care of. To the extent that you can't immerse yourself into this world. It does this in every side mission. It would actually be interesting if any of this had a point.
I say all this to inquire how this game and other open world games like it have seemed to evade the ludonarrative dissonance criticism. Because this is what it is to me. Ludonarrative dissonance was never about Nathan Drake not having night terrors because of the people he killed or Ellie killing too many people on her revenge tour. It's about the narrative being directly in conflict with the gameplay presented. And Cyberpunk 2077 has a narrative that punishes people for engaging with the gameplay as presented. I've never experienced a game that gets in its own way as much as this one. I've heard lots of people say that the story of the game is amazing. And I don't see how that could possibly be the case when the story of the game is so in conflict with the format of the game. The people at Ubisoft aren't stupid enough to make an AC or Far Cry game and give the main character terminal cancer in the first 15 minutes. "Hey! Here's this gorgeous open world we painstakingly created! I hope you enjoy all these wonderful side missions we put a lot of work into. Please explore the world and take in every detail. Oh btw, your main character is about to die in a couple days. Okay! Enjoy those side missions!" Despite the criticism, at least for me, Uncharted is never not fun because Nathan Drake isn't having the night terrors. Cyberpunk 2077's ludonarrative dissonance makes it not fun to play.
Maybe I'm not being charitable enough. But these narrative/gameplay/game structure decisions are just stupid to me. There's no nice way to put it.
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