One of the most anticipated games for this holiday season, is the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, which is released this week. As such, many people will be introduced to the genre of Cyberpunk for the first time. If this is you, then here are more ways for you to explore this great genre.
For some background, Cyberpunk is a subgenre of Science Fiction, not unlike Tech Noir. Tech Noir focuses on the potential problems that could happen to a human as a result of growing technology, things like Human-like Robots, Robot-like people, and the very concept of Free Will vs. Determinism (all of which you can read about here). Cyberpunk, however, focuses more on what happens to humanity and society as a result of the growth of technology, as well as societal breakdown, usually as a result of capitalism.
Movies are a great, bite-sized way to explore a genre. It only takes a few hours of your time, and you get a full story, and a great level of visual and narrative investment into this world. These movies all focus on either cybernetic enhancements (a core tenet of cyberpunk) or a futuristic cyber-based deconstruction of society (the other core tenet).
In a futuristic world where robots are so lifelike, that they want to integrate with human society, Harrison Ford must track them down. Based on the Phillip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
Alita: Battle Angel
This movie, based on the manga Battle Angel Alita follows a cyborg girl, as she fights against the power structure led by technocratic rulers of society. All very cyberpunk.
Also based on a comic book, Dredd follows a police officer/judge/jury/executioner in a megalopolis riddled with crime. However, where traditional cyberpunk follows the outlaws and criminals making their way in a cybernetic dystopian future, we follow the upholder of law and order, as he hunts down these criminals.
Shows are interesting because they usually can’t go as hard into a genre, as there’s a greater investment to be made, but you can explore the concepts more deeply.
Practically every modern sci-fi genre is being explored wonderfully in this show. While the parts of Cyberpunk that focus on rising against the system might not be as explored, the idea of cybernetic enhancements very much is.
This award-winning show follows the opposite of Black Mirror. While there’s not a level of cybernetics in this show, the idea of using technology to rise against the system is the focus of the show.
Of course, the best way to explore a genre, because the amount of time you spend is entirely up to you and they can get really into the minutiae of the concept.
Obviously, the reason we are talking about Cyberpunk today, the new game that comes out this week. This is, understandably, the purest form of the genre, as you choose one of three “lifepaths,” or backgrounds and playstyles. You can either be the Streetkid, having grown up in gangs around the city, a Corpo, an employee in a large counterintelligence company, or a Nomad, someone new to the city. Each one of these playstyles gives you a unique look at how the city functions, and an advantage to help fight against it.
Final Fantasy VII
Potentially one of the greatest games ever made (according to GameFan magazine), this Final Fantasy focuses on defeating a megacorportation that is draining the Lifestream of the very planet to sell as power.
This game, which spawned a series, follows a nanotech superhuman, who’s an agent of the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition, as you fight against various power groups and sources of conspiracies.
Deus Ex was created as a spiritual successor to this game, which came out in 1994, and was placed in multiple halls of fame as a major breakthrough in the cyberpunk genre.
If you haven’t heard of this game, you aren’t the only one. Cyberpunk 2077 is actually based on a Tabletop Roleplaying Game (TtRPG), which came out in 1990. TtRPGs, like Dungeons & Dragons, are the ultimate way to explore a genre, because it can include every aspect, as you explore in your own, completely original and personally inspired way. If you are interested in getting into TtRPGs, while D&D is the first and most popular, I have played Cyberpunk 2020 and can confirm it is a lot of fun.
Lastly, perhaps you are into anime. If so, there are two standouts in the cyberpunk genre you should check out.
The story follows heroes with powerful psychokinetic energies, as they join a resistance group against the government. While originally a manga, this property has been adapted into an anime film, a video game, and a live action film being worked on by Taika Waititi, to be continued after he completes Thor: Love and Thunder.
Ghost in the Shell
With five mangas, five animated films, a live action film (starring Scarlett Johansson), five animated series’, and four video games, this is probably the single most successful cyberpunk property on this list. The story follows a counter-cyberterrorist cyborg, Major Motoko Kusanagi, who had such a terrible accident that most of her body had to be replaced with cybernetics, as well as her brain. This, unfortunately, makes it possible for people to hack into her very mind.