We stumble out of yet another sleepless night on the tail of end of a night shift, eyes aching and brain buzzing. How long has it been? Months? Years? We boot up the vid screen either way, craving sweet release, ramming the smooth metal of the connector jack into our eye holes for smooth and seamless data transference. We see you, arriving at at another Last Week Cyberpunk where the sky itself almost sold us things we never needed, where a report confirms what reality we are living in, and where there oh so many fresh games to upload into your sweet headmeat. Strap in, light up, and I’ll see you at the bottom.
Pepsi Almost Brought Us Ads in Space with Orbiting Billboards
This visual is so blade runner I can’t even. Projecting the words “SimpleCola”, this image was taken from a promotional video from StartRocket
When Russian startup StartRocket said it wanted to use swarms of mini satellites called cubesats in order to project advertising images in low orbit, there’s one company that apparently perked up with interest: PepsiCo. Despite many others reacting with disgust at the idea, PepsiCo spokesperson Olga Mangova said “We believe in StartRocket potential. Orbital billboards are the revolution on the market of communication.”
Well, maybe they believe in them less than they thought, because PepsiCo has reportedly already begun walking back those statements. “We can confirm StartRocket performed an exploratory test for stratosphere advertisements using the Adrenaline GameChangers logo,” a spokesperson for PepsiCo told Gizmodo. “This was a one-time event; we have no further plans to test or commercially use this technology at this time.”
If they had partnered together, StartRocket reported they thought they could put up an ad for one of their drinks, Adrenaline Rush, as early as 2021.
Once StartRocket finds an advertiser who actually wants to follow through, they’d make the ad work by stringing small synchronized satellites called CubeSats, that once in position would unfurled reflective mylar sails to bounce the Sun’s light back to Earth, spelling things like “KFC”.
Naturally, there has been a lot of pushback with this brand of commercialism. Space experts raise concerns about space debris pollution, and astronomer John Barentine asked the obvious question of “who wants to look at this?” Nonetheless, Barentine thinks this kind of marketing is inevitable, since there are no laws against space ads, and once one company does it, he thinks many others will follow suit. Space is, after all, the final frontier in terms of prime real estate.
Mueller Confirms We’re Living in a Cyberpunk Dystopia
That’s right, we’re looking at this story through the lens of Cyberpunk and noticing some truly genre-matching elements to it. Concepts that you’d originally find only in Cyberpunk tales, such as government hackers and botnet propaganda networks, are now very much reality. What’s more, they’re mainstream enough to influence major elections.
Mueller reported that Russia used social media, hackers, and other sophisticated systems to help try to influence the 2016 election. Russian operatives working for an organization called Internet Research Agency created Facebook and Twitter accounts that reached millions (including Trump himself and his family) by creating pro-Trump, anti-Clinton shareable memes, messages and images.
Meanwhile, other operatives were hacking into the Democratic party servers to steal info and release it through WikiLeaks, using usernames such as DCLeaks and Guccifer. And how did they finance the entire operation? By mining Bitcoin. Go figure.
Cyberpunk is Now.
Richard Morgan Returns with Graphic novel Altered Carbon: Download Blues
Morgan has partnered with Dynamite comics to take his Altered Carbon story to Graphic Novel format with a new novel called Download Blues. Spanning 120 pages, Morgan reportedly kept the noir style which allowed a fair bit of introspection of the characters, while keeping the pulse of the story much higher. The story is due to hit the stores May 28th, but if you can’t wait until then, check out this 9-page preview along with SyFyWire’s interview with Morgan here.
While Emma Newman‘s newest entry into her Planetfall series looks to be more space opera than cyberpunk, the inclusion of nuclear warfare and a heavy emphasis on hyperrealistic virtual reality screams high tech, low life. Determine for yourself if this is cyberpunk enough for you:
Six months after she left, Dee is struggling to manage her rage toward the people who ordered the nuclear strike that destroyed Earth. She’s trying to find those responsible, but she’s not getting very far alone.
A dedicated gamer, Dee is endeavoring to discover a mersive good enough to enable her to escape her trauma. When she is approached by a designer who asks her to play test his new game, she hopes it will be what she needs—but it isn’t like any mersive she’s played before. When a man suddenly dies in the real world, she realizes that at the same time in the game, she killed a character who bears a striking resemblance to the dead man—a man she discovers was one of those responsible for the death of millions on Earth.
Disturbed, but thinking it must be a coincidence, Dee continues the hunt for information. But when she finds out the plans for the future colony, she realizes that to save what is left of humanity, she might have to do something that risks what remains of her own.
Atlas Alone was released last Tuesday through Ace Books, and can be found here.
Limited Edition Shadowrun Gaming Sets Now Available
Break out your credsticks and get ready to throw your nuyen at the screen, chummers. In honor of the excellent Shadowrun tabletop gaming series’ 30th anniversary, Catalyst Game Labs has whipped up an exclusive treat for its most diehard fans: Shadowrun-themed dice sets, embossed, (faux-)leather-bound sourcebooks at a reduced price, and some pretty kickass lapel pins. Haven’t started running the shadows just yet? No worries–along with these new deals, you can get every Shadowrun sourcebook ever published, all of which can be found here. But stay frosty and remember: the dice, pins, and hardcover sourcebooks are only around for as long as supplies last.
Katana Zero: On Steam and the Nintendo eShop
The time has finally come, friends, to step into the geta of a psychic samurai assassin and cause fast-paced, Hotline Miami–esque mayhem. After a long, long wait, developer Askiisoft and publisher Devolver Digital‘s stylish cyberpunk neo-noir was released on April 18th, and early reviews are largely positive, praising the game’s use of strategic mechanics, clever incorporations of popular video game tropes as in-world plot elements, and an impressive retrofuturistic aesthetic.
Playing as an unnamed hitman for a shadowy organization, Katana Zero’s story centers around a drug that gives users the ability to perceive time in a supernatural manner–you are one of these addicts, using the drug in combat to predict the outcome of your choices during your assignments. But how long will it take before your perception of time and reality collapses altogether? Also, you can go into bullet time, block shots with your sword, and paint the walls with the blood of your enemies as you slice your way through 10 levels with razor precision, which looks hella badass. If you haven’t gotten Katana Zero yet, you can do so for Mac and PC through the Steam marketplace and the Nintendo eShop.
Also released on April 18th, the new turn-based political strategy game from Mi-Clos and Goblinz Studios puts you at the helm of a futuristic cold war. While Sigma Theory has been anticipated for some time now, the details concerning the game have been sparse until now. As the developers put it:
In the near future, a paradigm-shifting scientific discovery looms over the world, promising radical new technologies. The world’s superpowers realize they could have the power to destroy the global financial system, wipe out entire countries or even gain access to immortality.
However, this discovery — called “The Sigma Theory” — can only be harnessed by a handful of scientists. You are placed at the head of your country’s Sigma division. Your objective is to ensure that it is your nation that reaps the benefits of Sigma Theory before anyone else.
To achieve this you will have powerful resources at your disposal: a cadre of the world’s most elite covert agents, advanced tactical drones and, of course, your own skills in diplomacy and subterfuge.
It’s a cold war out there, one in which mankind must face up to its future.
Sigma Theory can be found on Steam and GOG.com for PC, Mac, and Linux right friggin’ now.
Whispers of a Machine
Rocking the classic point-and-click adventure look, Raw Fury‘s freshly-minted Whispers of the Machine seems to have come out of nowhere but comes as a pleasant surprise. Described as a “Sci-Fi Nordic Noir”, Clifftop Games and Faravid Interactive‘s collaborative effort follows Vera, a cyborg detective in a post-AI world as she unravels a mystery surrounding a series of connected murders. Looking like Beneath a Steel Sky on nootropics, the game features full voice acting and presents a vision of the future I don’t think any of us have quite seen before. You want it as badly as we do? You can download Whispers of a Machine through Steam or GOG.com right now.
In a future where a gaming corporation (we’re looking at you, EA) holds the most sway over society, it’s up to you to fight back against the tyranny of irl loot boxes, endless sequels, and DLC for every unfinished product. Steppe Hare Studio brings this world to life in Geeksos, a top-down stealth shooter that offers players endless customization, augmentation upgrades, beautifully crafted scenery dripping with classic aesthetics, and a little bit of the old ultraviolence. Ironically, the game was released on April 16th through Steam Early Access, but considering its $4 price tag, we say give this indie dev a little love and help them prevent the dystopian parody future they’ve predicted.
Notice a cyberpunk story we missed this week? Let us know down below or on social media.
Some of the links included in this article are Amazon affiliate links. If you would like to purchase these items, consider using the links provided and help support Neon Dystopia.
I’m playing ‘Whispers of a Machine’ now. I really like how your actions level up one of three personality types, and that in turn seamlessly changes how things play out. I like Vera but the characters are generally quite bland and there’s a sluggish pace and lack of hard narrative hooks, leaving it feeling less engaging than it should be.
I still recommend it, though, and have a good feeling it’ll really pick up as the game goes on; there’s some great groundwork so far.
Steven J. Matos (Scum)
Good to know! I really want to pick Geeksos myself. Looks fun and for some reason I really enjoy deep customization of weapons. From I’ve heard the stealth isn’t good yet, but it’s early access so give it some time.
Love reading these – keep them coming!
Pingback: Neon Dystopia: Open Call for Submissions! – Neon Dystopia