Cyberpunkdreams Preview: Just Hook It To My Veins

Writing up my preview for Cyberpunkdreams has proven to be particularly difficult. Not because the game is a slog or anything like that. Quite the opposite, really. It’s just that every time I’ve started writing about the game, it makes me want to jump back in and play more. It’s that good. Cyberpunkdreams is a text-based adventure set in the popular futuristic, dystopian genre of the times. No, there’s no Keanu, but the game doesn’t need that star power to be successful, even in its current Early Access build that I can’t seem to stop playing. I assure you that it’s not hyperbole when I say that Cyberpunkdreams is hands-down the absolute best and most immersive experience I’ve had in a cyberpunk setting to date.

In Cyberpunkdreams, you start with nothing. You’re a newcomer to the badlands that surround the (mostly) impenetrable walls of Cincinnati, which has become one of the most powerful and populated cities in North America – what’s left of North America, that is. Years of war, famine, and the resulting “natural” disasters have rendered much of the continent inhospitable – you’re really rolling the dice if you want to reside in the badlands among the violence, drugs, death, and mutant population that live there. Of course, things aren’t much better within the walls of the sprawling urban metropolis of Cincinnati. In fact, beneath the glow of the neon lights, things might actually be worse and more sinister than you could even imagine.

Cyberpunkdreams’ gameplay works in a few different ways. The primary drivers are your actions, of which you have 40 total. These actions allow you to use the deck of cards to move around the world and make decisions. The cards are randomly generated, but often follow along with whatever scenarios you’ve uncovered along the way. For example, maybe you’ve met an NPC who’s looking to settle a score between him and his lover’s new flame – a strung-out meth dealer in the badlands. You might not flip over a related card for 20 turns. Or, you might luck out and flip over cards that pull you down that story beat quickly. However, just because you find a card you’re hoping for, it doesn’t mean you’ll be successful.

All action cards are controlled by success rates. These percentages are good indicators of which decisions you should make first. You might have a better chance of succeeding by just sitting back and listening to the conversations around you, rather than talking directly to someone. Cyberpunkdreams is very much high-risk, high-reward in this regard, often being well worth the risk of rolling the proverbial dice on a low success rate.

Success rates are determined by a few different factors, such as increasing the percentage after having a streak of successful choices. Some are simply impacted by what you have available in your inventory, what you’re wearing, or your personal traits – which are determined as you play the game, rather than decided upfront. These RPG elements eventually extend to your gameplay as well, with survival factors like eating and sleeping playing a part in how you spend your time and money. It’s a delicate balance to strike as you make your way through the world of Cyberpunkdreams, and it’s often one that is very easy to get lost in.

As mentioned, Cyberpunkdreams affords you a total of 40 actions at a time. One new action is regenerated every ten minutes, meaning once you run out of actions, you need to wait for new ones to regenerate. That is, unless you are willing to spend credits to automatically replenish your credits. Credits can be purchased using real money. There are certain actions that can cost credits themselves (such as expediting a resource gathering mission or bribing an authoritative NPC), but they aren’t necessary to get the full Cyberpunkdreams experience. In fact, I’ve used about 200 of the 1,000 credits that I was provided by the developer. I haven’t encountered any sort of scenario that was negatively impacted by waiting to use actions instead of using credits. This is a very addicting game, so I think running out of actions and letting them regenerate over, say, a night is good for taking a “forced” break.

The more I play and explore within the world of Cyberpunkdreams, the more I want to uncover. Cyberpunkdreams is a game that has been in development since 2013, and I believe it. There are so many people, places, and things to discover, along with countless branching narratives, with even more content planned for after the launch on May 14. I’ve died once during my hours upon hours of playtime, which was technically a suicide because I got caught in a doom loop of recycled cards with no end in sight. My second playthrough has played out far more fruitfully, with a ton of different things playing out that impacted my character (for better or for worse). Not to mention, decisions I made early on in the game have come back in some form as I’ve progressed. I currently have a few different story arcs that I’m tracking, all of which remain in the back of my mind as I explore the city in the hopes that I turn over some kind of related card along the way.

It’s incredibly easy for me to lose track of my action count as I read through the 1.6 million words of branching and interconnected story vignettes, and I’ve found the experience is even more immersive if I let the Deep Future Garage YouTube channel play its futuristic and ambient music play in the background. I can’t say a text-based game has ever had a hold on me the way that Cyberpunkdreams has. I truly believe that anyone who’s a fan of the cyberpunk genre will immediately take to what the game has to offer. I have no doubt that my second character will likely meet some kind of untimely end, but that just means that I’ll be able to take what I’ve learned and apply it to my next character (or ten).

A PC code and credits for Cyberpunkdreams were provided to TheGamer for this preview. Cyberpunkdreams releases on Steam on May 14.

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Sam has been writing for TheGamer since early 2018, earning the role as the Lead Features & Review Editor in 2019. The Denver, Colorado-native’s knack for writing has been a life-long endeavor. His time spent in corporate positions has helped shape the professional element of his creative writing passion and skills. Beyond writing, Sam is a lover of all things food and video games, which – especially on weekends – are generally mutually exclusive, as he streams his gameplay on Twitch (as well as TheGamer’s Facebook page) under the self-proclaimed, though well-deserved moniker of ChipotleSam. (Seriously…just ask him about his Chipotle burrito tattoo). You can find Sam on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @RealChipotleSam.

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