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Retro Synthesis and [The Nothing] Aim to Jump on Cyberpunk Love

by Rhys ap Gwyn

Two indie developers launch campaigns for their cyberpunk games.

Retro-Synthesis

The gaming world has been doting on societal ruin and floating cars ever since, well, ever since the 60s but even more so since CD Projekt unveiled their demo of their upcoming open-world adventure, Cyberpunk 2077.

The cyberpunk theme and video games are a great match. You get super moody characters set in dark, brooding worlds with bright neon lights and lots of rain. And, unlike the movies, comic books and novels, you get to actually use all the funky technology we create at the cost of our humanity.

Cyberpunk 2077 is shaping up to be quite the experience and if you’ve seen the demo, its immediately apparent that this is going to sit with a very special group of games, but there are plenty of lower key titles bearing similar themes that deserve some attention. Two indie cyberpunk titles have launched on Kickstarter today and both look pretty interesting.

The first is [The Nothing] from solo developer Mathew R Walsh. On its campaign page it’s described as an “open-world, third-person cyberpunk RPG with an involved and dark story, 12 possible endings, flying cars, crafting, exploration.” It’s set in a dystopian Los Angeles in 2108 and is being made using the Unreal Engine. The game features gunplay, stealth mechanics, a cool hacking system whereby you actually build the tools using parts. It’s all very ambitious but you never know.

The story revolves around Dresden, a systems engineer at a mammoth corporation who trades all his wealth to save his mother, resulting in him being kicked out of the upper city to the underbelly of society. It’s inspired by the Walsh’s real life and focuses on the choices you make to save those you love.

It’s a little rough around the edges and they need the support to hire more people and fully realize the potential. At the moment they have Ron Wasserman onboard doing the music, who is known for his work on the original theme tune for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as well as his work on X-Men: The Animated Series, Dragon Ball Z, SpongeBob and more.

 

The second is Retro Synthesis from Black Nest, described as “a tech-noire narrative game about being torn apart between obligations and conscience.” You play as Harrison Noels, a police detective who gets pulled into a complex and personal case soon after losing his wife. The game is set in the past, in 1999, but having followed a very different course following drastic climate changes.

The game boasts a simplified dialogue system contextually based on how you’re feeling. Rather than responding with specific snippets of dialogue you choose your emotion and that elicits a response from the game. On paper that sounds alright but we know from games like Mass Effect how responding with things you didn’t mean to say, and have those affect the future can be frustrating.

The other interesting aspect of the game is its comic book style visuals, more akin to something like Ubisoft’s XIII than the photorealism of 2077. It makes the world look really colorful and really plays to that comic book page strength evoking a great sense of mood and place. The character models also look expressive and little touches like in-world labels etc. really work well. I love the look of this one.

 

Both titles have just launched, so you can find out more about them on their campaign pages. It’s exciting to have more and more cyberpunk in the world and it’s always interesting to see what the newcomers bring to the table following in the footsteps of CD Projekt, who themselves were pretty small fry before the success of their second game in the Witcher series.

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