Remember back when cyberpunk as a genre represented a dark vision of our future? You know, before our lives were unabashedly controlled by giant, terrifying megacorporations? Yeah, those were the days. In modern times, cyberpunk is basically just a flashier version of real life, a version where you’ve got your phone in your skull instead of in your pocket. Some of us long for the days before cyberpunk became Cyberpunk.
Games like Glitchpunk end up feeling a bit more like what’s going to happen than what could happen – but hey, at least we’ll all get to wear cool 80s-inspired outfits.
In the world of the future, it sucks being an android. You’ve got to worry about where you’re going to get your next can of oil, for instance, and people generally don’t care much about dismantling you. It sucks. It might suck more if you didn’t have a sweet gig as a mercenary, though. By helping out the city’s band of gangs, lowlifes and, uh, clergy, you just might earn enough money to climb your way out of robo-poverty.
Glitchpunk really wants to nail the classic Grand Theft Auto experience and, at the moment, it’s doing so…warts and all, in fact. This is a top-down open-world run-and-gun-and-shoot-’em-up presented in the classic fashion. There’s a skeletal plot, but it’s all fairly surface-level stuff delivered with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, just like the GTA we’ve come to know and love. You’re given missions, typically assassinations, and allowed to figure out your own method of getting them done. Successfully completing missions earns you rewards in the form of money and upgrades.
In practice, that means hitting up the nearest vending machine for a weapon, hitting up the nearest driver for a vehicle and hitting up the target with either the vehicle or a barrage of bullets. If that’s not enough, you can also hack the locals to create some impromptu mayhem or use enhanced abilities thanks to installable cybernetic modules. Typically a car to the face is enough to solve your problems, but it’s nice to have options.
None of this is too difficult early on, but later missions will send you deeper into enemy territory where you’ll be swarmed with far more nastiness as you try to get the job done. You’ll need to carry plenty of health and ammo along if you hope to get out alive. Naturally, doing all of this tends to upset the local authorities as well, so fleeing from the cops and finding the nearest spray shop becomes prudent if you catch heat.
That’s all well and good. It’s pretty accurate to the old-school GTA we know and love, in fact. Sadly, Glitchpunk’s nature as an Early Access title means it struggles a little when it comes to delivering the same quality as those classic series. There’s plenty of bugs, for instance, ranging from text errors to missions breaking midway through to waypoints pointing you to nonexistent missions. There’s something to be said for the developers’ efforts to address these over time, but the fact is that you’re paying for a rough draft at the moment and should keep that in mind.
At least Glitchpunk looks pretty good when it’s not experiencing one of several varying degrees of existence failure. The team really nailed the combination of Cyberpunk and Grand Theft Auto vibes they were going for, with plenty of grit and neon to go around. That’s not the highlight of Glitchpunk’s presentation, though. No, that’d be the radio while you’re driving around. It’s packed with incredibly cheesy performances the likes of which we haven’t heard since GTA3. I kind of loved these for the same reason I love B-movies and they did a lot to make Glitchpunk more memorable.
As mentioned, this game’s still in the Early Access oven, but if you want to sneak a taste then nobody’s going to blame you. Glitchpunk is a promising take on classic steal-’em-ups. It’s got enough rough edges to sand down your bunions, but given some time and effort there’s definitely a chance this one will be a classic. If you’re not sure just yet, feel free to wait – allegedly, Glitchpunk’s development cycle isn’t going to take too long, with a sizable content expansion releasing in only a few weeks as of this posting.