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Cyberika review – “Buckle up, buttercup”

Cyberika is a third-person cyberpunk action MMO set in the future. As per the norm, large corporations now rule the world, and oppression is felt by everyone except for those at the top. In order to make it in this world soaked in neon and violence, you need to become something more, hence the pursuit of cybernetic enhancements that change the physical capabilities of its wearer.

With the help of an AI stuck in your head and a bit of luck, you’ll make your way through the city and become the stuff of legends.

While collecting materials and upgrading your outfit and weaponry is the majority of what you’ll spend your time on, there’s certainly something to be commended for a game this large being playable on something that fits in your pocket. The story is intense and the driving part of the experience, but sometimes, that kind of dedication to following what they want you to do comes with a price.

Starting off right

At the beginning of the game, you’ll have access to a character creation system that lets you personalise your character and their outward appearance. Hairstyles and other visual features make the character your own, but where the customisation really comes into play is the ability to equip biochips that extend your cybernetic abilities. It’s only then that your character really is able to excel in this futuristic depiction of life in a dystopia.

Cyberika gameplay

As you learn of your character’s current situation, stuck with an AI embedded in its head, you’ll find out what path you need to take to set things right and work your way up the chain of power in the process. Things like hacking and assembling machinery from scraps found on dead bodies or in locked caches are common practice, and you’ll be fighting through an abundance of ne’er-do-wells on your way to gaining more loot.

Each mission provides you with an opportunity to explore a new area or fight bad guys to get to the goal. Getting to each new area is a neat mini-game where you drive your vehicle on a superhighway, but you’ll quickly learn how monotonous driving in the future can be.

Wheely overdone

I couldn’t help but feel that someone was absolutely impressed the most during the developmental process by the driving mini-game, as it permeates every part of the Cyberika experience. If you want to go to a new or even previously visited area, you’re going to be taking your car.

You have the option to allow the autopilot to get you to your destination safely, or if you want to take the wheel into your own hands, you can manually drive your car and it will get you there faster. Running into other cars only slows you down, so you don’t have to worry about costly repairs or insurance.

While this mini-game is charming initially, you’ll see it every single time you travel to a destination. I counted 4 times within five minutes during a short visit to a location to realise that I couldn’t hack a system yet and then had to head back to my apartment to discuss the dilemma with my AI counterpart, and of course, head back and forth again. I wish there was a better solution to this problem, especially since you can pay in-game currency to skip the process, making me think it’s ultimately a way to push free players to pay money to avoid the inconvenience.

MMO or MM.. no?

As you’re running around social areas like Downtown, you’ll see other characters mingling and carrying out their own missions or quests. You cannot interact with them, however, making it questionable what the purpose of this being classified as an MMO really is.

There are multiplayer modes, which include co-op raids and clan wars, but it seems that the massively part of the genre definition is left out of this title. Having the other players there but having no way to reach out to them is one of the worst parts of the experience as if it is merely a tease of potential expectations. Don’t get me wrong, there’s likely a lot of people playing the game at once, but the interactions between players are nowhere near the anticipated amount.

The story is at the forefront of the experience, and if you were disappointed with the bug-riddled release of Cyberpunk 2077, you might find solace here. It’s basically the same storyline, just told without all the flashy cinematics and sprawling open world. Your AI certainly won’t match up to the personality of Johnny Silverhand, but it’s entertaining enough as a premise and certainly keeps the motion of the game’s progression interesting.

Cybernetic Sheen

The city, with a lot of locations named after Ray Bradbury, the world-renown sci-fi writer, is polished to a neon-accented sheen, and each location has plenty of detail. With a third-person perspective, you don’t get to access much of the details up-close, but there’s plenty to see and do, with the whole game feeling like an upgrade to the original Fallout or Syndicate titles.

Cyberika character and inventory

Music in the game is either synthwave or retrowave and fills out the experience well. It’s perhaps is the only reason to take the long drive between locations, as you’ll be able to jam out to notable artists from the genre such as Magic Sword. The game will always let you know what track is playing up in the top left of the screen, which makes for a good resource to expand your musical library if you’re really digging the music.

Final Thoughts

While there’s plenty to do in Cyberika, there’s also plenty of repetitive gameplay to work through. Mobile games are typically no stranger to this, so this may be a perfect escape to a digitalised depiction of the future for you if you’re a fan of the genre. Know that what you’re getting yourself into is a clear Cyberpunk clone that offers an on-the-go dive into the cybernetic underworld but it does neither anything extravagant or new.

The graphics, while neat for the style of the game, aren’t going to really wow you and often the gameplay suffers from some of the design decisions, such as auto-aiming with weapons, that take you out of the experience at times. At the end of the day, it’ll provide an engaging sci-fi story and game for you to get lost in if you put some time into it.

Cyberika is available now on Google Play and the App Store

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