Cyberpunk 2077 made the same storytelling mistake as Black Mirror
The speculative fiction that imagines the ways in which technology could impact human life offers limitless possibilities, including many dark and ominous ways to abuse it. Cyberpunk 2077 and the television series Black mirror both fell into the same rut of becoming hyper-focused on one possible offshoot of technology – perfect copies of a human mind – thus missing out on the opportunity to explore other creative ways that technology could make the dark future. Cyberpunk as a genre focuses on a variety of ways advanced technology is changing what it means to be human, including cybernetic augmentations raising transhumanist themes, immersive digital realms challenging the nature of reality. and artificial intelligence challenging the definition of what it means to be a person. This makes Cyberpunk 2077 and Black mirror the myopic focus on digital copies of human minds is a disappointment.
The cyberpunk genre of showcasing rampant capitalism, where life has become a commodity and the wealth gap has become insurmountable, is present in mega-companies like Arasaka in the Cyberpunk 2077 video game, but the preoccupation with digital copies of human consciousness has prevented the game, and the Black mirror series, to go in more imaginative directions. Cyberpunk 2077 introduced the idea of Engrams, with an Alt Cunningham Engram roaming the net, and Johnny Silverhand’s Engram sharing a body with the player character, V. Black mirror has tried to present a variety of ways in which technology could impact human life, from social media gone awry to VR fighting games used for cybersex, but the introduction of Cookies into the tradition of the series is quickly became his only concern for far too many episodes.
Players remain hopeful that the next-gen version of Cyberpunk 2077 will redeem its rough start, but even if the update fixes bugs and optimization issues, the main storyline will remain unambitious due to the focus on digitized human copies. Engrams have never been a major focus for the Cyberpunk Tabletop RPG, which featured human augmentation, rebels living outside societal norms, and the ideal of building a personal and lasting legend in a world where life is otherwise cheap and throwaway. The central plot focuses on two Engrams, Cunningham and Silverhand, at the expense of further exploring the technological changes in the setting. The 2014 Black mirror special White christmas introduces the concept of Cookies, analogous to Engrams of Cyberpunk 2077. This episode explored the idea of torturing digital copies of a human mind to create a better smart home, and later to extract confessions from a crime.
Black Mirror Focused Too Much On Tortured Copied Spirits
Although much later focused on cookies Black mirror The episodes were to critical acclaim, it showed a lack of imagination and willingness to explore other facets of technology, doubling down White Christmas’ basic concept up to redundancy. USS Callister was another Black mirror variation on the abuse of copies of human spirits, this time for the sadistic fantasies of a man. Hang the DJ subjecting cookies to a mock test in order to calculate dating compatibility, and Black museum once again, tread the same tired terrain with mass-produced copies of a human mind undergoing constant electrocution. San Junipero provided the only altruistic approach to the Cookie concept, with copies of human spirits living in an idyllic virtual reality like a man-made afterlife, but the multiple episodes mulling over Cookie’s concept proved to be tedious and have wasted some of the series’ potential.
Cyberpunk 2077 still touches on some of the main themes of tabletop RPGs. V is initially associated with Jackie Wells, who embodies the Cyberpunk Ideals of the TTRPG. Wells revere the legends of Night City’s past, as he is willing to die to create his own lasting legacy. It’s more of an afterthought for V, however, as the presence of the Silverhand Engram and sharing a body with a digital human copy quickly becomes the sole focus of the game’s main story.
The transhumanist themes of human augmentation are still technically present, as the player can upgrade their cyberware on Street Docs throughout the game, but V has little time to think about his changing body, with another personality struggling for control it. A few side missions explore other imaginative consequences of the technology, such as the boxing match against twins whose linked cyberware caused them to confuse their identities. More emphasis on creative concepts like this could have strengthened the story in Cyberpunk 2077, but as with Black mirror Cookies and engrams occupy too much of the game.
Johnny Silverhand is a fascinating character in Cyberpunk 2077, and having an Engram with the ride provided a joke opportunity even with a game focused mostly on single-player missions. The physical death of Alt Cunningham and his rise to become a powerful figure on the Net that rivals the divine AIs roaming beyond the Blackwall, allowed Silverhand’s deepest regret to have significance beyond his personal vendetta. against Arasaka. Later in the game, the Engram of the slain Saburo Arasaka takes over his son’s body to regain control of society. None of these are a particularly bad addition to the storyline, but they all center around the concept of Engrams, to the exclusion of a more diverse exploration of the genre’s potential.
Cyberpunk 2077 explores engrams from all angles, avoiding story variety
Cyberpunk 2077 The default ending, arguably the game’s less “punk” ending, features V seeking help from the Arasaka company. They are unable to find a way to keep V’s body alive, and the character can either accept the inevitability of his impending death and live out the months remaining to him to the full, or attempt immortality as Engram, under the care of Arasaka. From the basic plot device of the relic biochip that V takes into his body, to Cyberpunk 2077 ending, Engram remains a singular fixation in the game’s history. While the side missions offer some variety and side characters like Evelyn Parker explore other possible abuses of human augmentation, Cyberpunk 2077The main story of s focuses on exploring the Engram concept from all possible angles, to the exclusion of other ideas.
The notion of Arasaka’s virtual prison for copies of Engram may remind gamers Black mirror episodes like White christmas Where Black museum, and the Patriarch of Arasaka’s second chance to live in his son’s body presents a different technological response to the afterlife of San Junipero. There is nothing inherently wrong with taking the concept of sci-fi and exploring it to the fullest, but in the case of both Cyberpunk 2077 and Black mirror, they did so at the expense of the endless variety and creative opportunities that science fiction offers.
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