It’s a new year and that means that the 2015 game release schedule is going to start taking shape! More specifically, several fantastic looking cyberpunk games are scheduled to be released this year, from RPG’s and shooters, to survival and action. So without further ado, here are the top 5 cyberpunk games to watch out for in 2015.
#5: Quantum Break
Quantum Break is the next game being developed by Remedy Entertainment, the team behind Max Payne and Alan Wake. The game is built on the Northlight engine which has shown from the gameplay videos and cinematic trailer that it truly is a next-gen engine capable of delivering beautiful visuals. Visuals are pointless without content to back it up, and the content of Quantum Break looks quite promising. The story of Quantum Break will focus on three main characters dealing with the results of a failed time travel experiment. This experiment grants the characters the ability to manipulate time in various ways such as seeing the correct decision to make based on the future outcomes of the choice, or stopping time entirely. These powers do not come without a price, as time itself has been damaged, and the protagonists must rush to correct the accident.
At first glance Quantum Break might not appear to fit into a traditional cyberpunk genre, but the juxtaposition between the clean office shown in the trailer, and the slums that we’ve gotten to see in the gameplay footage, alongside the shady corporation hunting the protagonists, shows that Remedy understands the motivations of a cyberpunk world. The punk aspect of the game comes from our protagonists fighting against the militarized police, who are employed by Monarch Solutions, in order to find each other and undo the damage to time. The cyber side of the genre is presented by the visuals of the game, from the body armor of the police, to the holographic styled billboards. With every piece the whole becomes greater, and Quantum Break looks to be a rich cyberpunk world that is even going to have a live action TV show to expand on the rippling effects from the damage caused by the time travel experiment that sets the plot of the game in motion.
#4: Dreamfall Chapters: Rebels
Dreamfall Chapters is the episodic sequel to Dreamfall, a point and click adventure game set in two parallel worlds. The first world is called Stark, a dystopian vision of Earth in the year 2220 CE. After The Longest Journey, the game that introduced us to these worlds, Stark suffered a catastrophic collapse losing several advanced technologies, and leaving its society in ruins. In parallel to Stark, there is Arcadia, a fantasy world ruled by an empire using a tower to harvest dreams. Dreams are also a central part of the cyberpunk world, as the corporation Waticorp has created dreamachines, a highly addictive lucid dream technology. The first book followed the journey of Zoe Castillo as she found herself trapped within a dreamachine, and her eventual escape. Zoe has lost her memories, and therapy was unsuccessful in returning them to her, so Zoe moves to Europolis, to start her life over.
The Longest Journey series has always felt like a shining example of what cyberpunk should be. It’s filled with social commentary about the complacency of a happy population, advanced technology that everyone has access to. The main characters are true cyberpunks, working against the established powers to fight for what they believe is right. Chapters is built on the Unreal 4 engine, which allows the game to have some amazing open world environments, meaning that the every map can be explored in any direction. The main focus of Dreamfall is the story, but there will also be puzzles throughout the worlds of Stark, and Arcadia. Within the story there are many different dialogue choices which affect the later events of the story, but unfortunately the ending will not be affected by these choices.
#3: Mirror’s Edge 2
While there isn’t an abundance of cybernetics or other cyberpunk technology in Mirror’s Edge, the world is a near perfect dystopia. The first Mirror’s Edge introduced us to the runners; a group of couriers who deliver information around the city, because information is so highly controlled by corporations running the city. Another key part to this dystopia is the propaganda that is heard when running through the city. The runners are made out to be terrorists, and parents are even encouraged to stop their children from participating in anything to do with running. Mirror’s Edge 2 will take the player back in time to discover how the runner Faith, got her start into the business.
Dice is making Mirror’s Edge 2 on the Frostbite 3 engine which has already boasted several successful games such as Dragon Age: Inquisition and Battlefield 4. One of Dice’s stated design values behind their second installment in the Mirror’s Edge trilogy is to improve upon the first person combat, to build upon the gameplay focused on movement from the first game. After a leak it appeared that the release of Mirror’s Edge 2 may have been delayed until early 2016, but there is still a decent chance that it could come out within 2015. All in all Mirror’s Edge is a powerful dystopian world with open environments that reward exploring new paths, and lets the player feel like they truly are running free.
#2: Shadowrun: Hong Kong
Shadowrun (the tabletop game) was first published in 1989, and four years later on SNES the first digital Shadowrun game was released. It received very high praise and a sequel on the Sega Genesis within a year. After this release there was not another traditional Shadowrun until 2007 when FASA Interactive released a first person shooter multiplayer only game. Reviews for the game were mixed, and once again Shadowrun games took a hiatus until Harebrained Schemes launched a kickstarter campaign for Shadowrun Returns. Now Harebrained Schemes have launched a new Kickstarter to fund Shadowrun: Hong Kong.
Hong Kong will follow a character who moves from Seattle to Hong Kong looking for work, who instead finds a corporate conspiracy nearly thirty years in the making. Combat is turn based, and looks to emulate the tabletop game extremely well. The cast of main characters in Hong Kong is a group of shadowrunners who range from a security specialist to a samurai. Several members of the crew will have their own side missions. Another feature of this game will be the game editor allowing users to create their own content for the game, from campaigns to custom classes. Shadowrun: Hong Kong looks to be another great rendition of the classic setting of fantasy meets cyberpunk with a great following that funded the Kickstarter within hours of it’s announcement.
#1: Cyberpunk 2077
I’m extremely excited for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Not because I’m excited for the game, or even because I’ve played the series. I’m looking forward to The Witcher because after it’s release, Projekt Red can finally start seriously working on Cyberpunk 2077. A few months after it was announced, a stunning cinematic trailer was released in early 2013. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the trailer, is that it was created entirely by one person. While there isn’t a lot of motion within the cinematic, the visuals presented show off a cyberpunk world reminiscent of Ghost in the Shell. A cyborg is subdued by the police after seemingly slaughtering a bunch of civilians. After the cyborgs arrest, she is seen putting on a police uniform leading to questions about who she really is.
Projekt Red is waiting to commit full resources to Cyberpunk 2077 until after The Witcher 3 is released. This is because the studio usually works on one project at a time, striving to release a fully working game at launch. So more than likely they will have something more to say about 2077 at E3 this year because the Witcher is set to release on May 19th. Gameplay for Cyberpunk 2077 will have both a first and third person perspective, as well as a non-linear story focused heavily on character customization. One such customization is language implants, which will inhibit the player from understanding NPC’s who don’t speak the language of the player. Unlike any previous games created by Projekt Red, Cyberpunk 2077 is promised to have a multiplayer gameplay, although there haven’t been any details as to whether it will be a co-op or player vs player. Cyberpunk 2077 has the potential to be a cyberpunk masterpiece as well as bring the genre some well deserved attention.
Honorable Mention: The Division
The Division shows great promise, and a near cyberpunk setting, but unfortunately the game doesn’t look like it’s going to quite fit into the cyberpunk genre we’re all looking for.
Honorable Mention: Showtime
Naughty Dog, the masterminds behind the last of us released a few concept art sketches that had a wonderful cyberpunk jive to them, but there was no game officially announced along with the artwork. So keep an eye out for a possible teaser from the studio.
Which cyberpunk games are you looking forward to in 2015?