Everyone’s a bit of a bastard in Night City, and you won’t need Extreme-O 3000 ocular eye implants to figure this out for yourself in Cyberpunk 2077. In a city where everyone has their own agenda and reasons for not being saints, morality isn’t something that can be summed up by a binary definition of good and evil. Instead, there’s a decidedly unkinky shade of grey that you’ll have to navigate within the game, and to do so you’re going to need to brush up on a new skillset: Reading body languages.
Speaking to Game Informer, lead quest designer Paweł Sasko explained how Cyberpunk 2077’s character design made use of the studio’s writer, quest designer, and cinematic designer to create characters who are more nuanced in their behaviour than you might expect them to be, often dropping subtle hints in their mannerisms that they may not be on the up and up when you deal with them.
One such example was through the character of Evelyn, a charming individual who tempts you with the deal of the lifetime provided that you’re willing to cut your fixer Dex out of the profits that he’s expecting from landing you some lucrative work. “When you’re meeting Evelyn in Lizzie’s [Bar], she’s doing very specific things in the specific moments and there are things she is not certain about that she’s discussing,” Sasko explained.
The way she’s moving in that scene, that’s specifically designed to present that character in the best possible way, and to give the player lots of different interpretations and hypotheses. It might be that a character is speaking in a very convincing manner, but through the animations, through their poses, and through the setup of the scene, we are showing that the character is not like that.
When you talk to the characters and ask more questions, they can actually throw things in that are contradictory or will give you some more clues to what they really think to make you question things. It’s just really fun because that makes the player be conscious and look at the characters. Of course, we cannot be all over the place with that, because if you go completely random, then it won’t work. It has to be designed very specifically.
Few video games have focused on deciphering lies and backstabbing via body language. LA Noire did a great job of it back in the day using groundbreaking facial capture technology at the time, while Deus Ex Human Revolution also had its own take on the idea that your various augmentations could monitor.
For Cyberpunk 2077, the focus is somewhat purer: Deciphering what the person is trying to tell you, and then wondering if you’re ready for the consequences that’ll come your way when you act on the choices you’ll make. There are no right or wrong answers to this nuanced approach to achieving the high life in Night City, just a boatload of cyber-causality to deal with.
Last Updated: July 6, 2020