Video game developing company CD Project Red is well known for their lush, open-world games that give nothing but hours and hours of endless and amazing content. The company’s work on Witcher 3 is well documented as one of the greatest role-playing games to have ever been released. People still play and talk about the game’s reputation today, even though the game is about five to six years old. Their latest project, that has been in development for a couple years now, Cyberpunk 2077, is on everybody’s watchlist of games coming out. The game is said to bring the same level, even more, we should say, of entertainment that Witcher 3 was able to bring to gamers.
Cyberpunk 2077 is scheduled to release in less than a year now. While not many details have been given about the game’s storyline, fans have the opportunity to traverse the world of Cyberpunk well ahead of the games scheduled release. The reason for this is because of a prequel to the game being released last week. The form of this prequel is not a video game but that of a pen and paper style role-playing game with the title, Cyberpunk Red.
Online news source, Polygon, was given the opportunity, by Cyberpunk‘s original creators R. Talsorian Games, to test out the prequel with the use of the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit. They were also invited to undergo a five-hour unpublished adventure led by co-author David Ackerman. If you wish to check out their fully detailed and spoiler-free review of the pen and paper RPG, then go check out their review https://www.polygon.com/reviews/2019/8/7/20756548/cyberpunk-red-jumpstart-kit-review-2077-prequel
From their review of the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit, fans get a tour of the game’s lore, ruleset, and combat mechanics so where to begin?
The game begins in the year 2045 and the setting is dubbed ‘Night City’ and sits between Los Angelos and San Francisco. ‘Night City’ is a massive metropolis filled the rich and the powerful and a deep and unforgiving seedy underbelly. You can take a stab at where you begin.
The Polygon review states that the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit is a “slim volume called the World Book”. This small introductory book is written by authors Mike Pondsmith, David Ackerman, J Gray, James Hutt, and Cody Pondsmith in which they retell the story of our planet’s devastating future history.
It seems that our world becomes controlled by leading businesses (as if it hasn’t already). The event that the World Book discusses is called the ‘4th Corporate War’. Polygon says it’s the equivalent of World War III but between the likes of Amazon and Disney. They continue to state that the authors delve into the modern obsession with technology that we all have and what if it got worse. What if everybody became so obsessed with the advance in technology that we started to integrate it within our own bodies? We would become more machine-like, walking weapons. This all seems very Terminator to us. Of course, other problems arise like the world economy plummeting and the world environmental problems continuing to degrade. Both of which leaves the common folk poor and helpless, while leading businesses gain more power.
From the way that the game plays, if your willing to welcome the cruel reality of this future world and become a weaponized mercenary for these business overlords then you might make it out alive. However, the world isn’t completely in ruins, there is a thin line of hope through the player to player and player to NPC connection.
Polygon states the World Book is an in-game artifact that is passed down between the game’s NPC generations. It unfurls the stories that are deeply rooted within human culture and those center around the idea of the family. The games main concepts of overbearing control, self-advancement through twisted scenarios, and leaving behind the concept of connection leaves it the only volume like it in the Cyberpunk universe. To succeed players must focus on connection it seems.
Side Note: The above video is how Cyberpunk Red sets up the world for Cyberpunk 2077. For reader insight.
Mechanics and Rules
The rules for this pen and paper game aren’t streamed line like in D&D. Instead, the authors of this game call the rules as being “modified”. Even Polygon states that “While the world-building and storytelling in the Jumpstart Kit are top-of-the-line, the underpinning combat systems are a bit barren”. However, the game does go over basic combat styles with small firearms, rocket launchers, melee weapons, and the ‘Netrunner’ class- basically, a spell caster class crossing with a hacker from today.
Both combat and noncombat scenarios are said to be left open to interpretation, especially when it comes to the GM (game master) and how that person controls the flow of the action at the table. The game wants the GM to react to how the players play out scenarios versus them controlling scenario. Beginning GM’s will have trouble with this system but experienced GM’s will have an easier time at this style of play. Though, Polygon reports that the beginning scenario dubbed ‘The Apartment’ is extremely informative for starting GMs and players in how the adventures will play out.
While the game is primarily left to interpretation in deciding how to play out the wide variety of scenarios, players must work together to make it passed it each one. The game’s seemingly high difficulty can be overcome through plenty of play and practice; though, the challenging side of it seems like it can be very entertaining and why we can’t wait to get our hands on it. The lore of the world makes you really think if this is what our world can truly become if we let things get too far.
Cyberpunk Red is currently available on DriveThruRPG for the retail price of $29.99. The game comes with all maps, and figures needed to play. This prequel takes place 32 years before the events of CD Project Red’s upcoming video game Cyberpunk 2077. Hope you all decide to check out both games.