Cyberpunk 2077 has been one of the most hyped gaming releases for [checks calendar] eight years? And it still isn’t out yet! Thankfully in those eight years, indie games have still been doing their thing. If you’re interested in different takes on the cyberpunk genre, here are five of the best cyberpunk games to start with, because there is much more to this space than one big-budget RPG could hope to cover.
Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut
While the title is a mouthful, if you want to dig into a cyberpunk RPG, you can’t go wrong with Shadowrun. Dragonfall is a standalone expansion for the base game, but it is also the best entry in the Shadowrun universe. Shadowrunners navigate the criminal underworld, engaging in hacking, espionage, and just blowing things up when necessary – so long as someone’s paying them for it. With crunchy turn-based tactical combat, meaningful companion quests, and shadowy conspiracies as far as your elf eyes can see – because this is science fantasy as much as it is science fiction – Dragonfall is incredibly rewarding of your time, whatever your priorities in an RPG are.
2064: Read Only Memories
In the year 2064, the world’s first sapient robot breaks into your apartment. Your friend, and their creator, has been kidnapped, and you need to find them. Sapience apparently makes robots adorable, as Turing is possibly the sweetest companion ever. 2064: Read Only Memories is in some ways a brighter take on cyberpunk: corporations are no less omnipresent, and something shadowy is certainly afoot, but it’s a future beyond homophobia or transphobia, and the cast reflects that. Be gay, do and/or solve crimes.
Invisible Inc is all about the hacking and espionage. Break-in, get what you need, don’t get caught. Go careful now – but not too careful, because there’s a timer ticking down, and playing too cautiously tick up the security. With each run being changed by the tools you equip, or the agents you manage to save, every move counts in this tactical stealth game where you have 72 hours until [REDACTED].
Play Transistor for the aesthetic, and to have many many feelings about a sword; it’s a beautiful game that’s worth it for Supergiant’s signature art style and soundtrack alone, but every other layer only adds more. Play through turn-based-but-also-real-time robot battles to find out why the shady Camerata tried to have you killed, accompanied by the consciousness of the man who sacrificed himself for you, inside of a sword. You’ll find incredible heart in Transistor’s details.
Neo Cab feels like the kind of cyberpunk setting that is maybe only five minutes into our own future. The big bad corporation feels closer to Amazon or Google than any cartoonish villain. As you roam the city of Los Ojos trying not to get less than a 5-star rating as one of the last human drivers for Neo Cab, your FeelGrid – a bracelet that shows the mood and intensity of your emotions – gives you away, and affects the conversations you can have with your passengers. The technology may be far out, but the stories Neo Cab uses it to tell are both personal and political.