Games don't get buggier than this, and the difference in graphics and performance on a tricked out PC versus console is stark, but there's a compelling story if you willing to deal with its issues. Cyberpunk 2077 is, simply put, a complete mess. There are glitches that made characters' clothing disappear, spots where the protagonist became stuck between floors and walls, non-player characters that jumped around the screen in strange poses, places where sound and lip-syncing suddenly disappeared, and more. Making matters worse, the visual presentation on consoles is rough, with blurry textures, dull character models, and occasionally laggy performance that can affect driving, combat, and even just walking down the street. It feels like a game that should still be in beta testing. Perhaps the most annoying problem is that if you become stuck during a mission, it can be hard to tell whether it's because you legitimately can't figure out what you need to do, or if it's due to some unknown glitch. On top of all of this, the interface feels clunky and busy, marred by text that's too small to read, strange placement of pop-up boxes and menu items, and an unintuitive/poorly explained hacking system that forces players to learn by clumsy experimentation.
This kind of shoddy experience would instantly sink most games. But Cyberpunk has enough fascinating ideas lurking below its blemished surface that some fans will begrudgingly weather all of the bad to get to the moments of good. The expansive world and carefully crafted lore, for example, should prove a treat for cyberpunk lovers. It tackles all sorts of fun and meaty questions, including what a world run by corporations would look like, how technology can change us individually and as a society, and what it would be like to record our physical and sensual experiences for others to playback and experience themselves. Plus, many of the side characters are surprisingly well developed and brought to life by talented performers, like the conflicted corporate bodyguard Takemura and the brilliant and plucky braindance editor Judy. The gravy comes in all of the loving homages to previous cyberpunk fictions (Strange Days, Blade Runner, The Matrix, and Neuromancer, to name just a few) and hidden Easter eggs for gamers -- a comedic mission with a loving reference to Portal is particularly delightful. It will likely be the story, though, that keeps most people playing. Filled with satisfying twists, meaningful player choices, and multiple endings, some players may find it worth persevering through all the glitches and technical issues just to learn what happens to V, her allies, and Night City. Cyberpunk 2077 clearly does not meet the lofty expectations millions of players had prior to its release, but there's still a satisfyingly sparkly gem here that can be uncovered if you dig deep enough.