Developer – Dark Lord
Publisher – Daedalic Entertainment
Platform – Microsoft Windows
Back in the early days of the Grand Theft Auto series, the game had a very different look than today. Instead of having a perspective directly behind your character, everything was viewed from above. In school during our computer class, we would spend our extra time after finishing courses playing these games and I have pretty fond memories of my time with it. Glitchpunk takes that same perspective and gameplay elements of the original Grand Theft Auto and sets it in a futuristic cyberpunk world.
At the start of Glitchpunk, you are the new arrival to the city of New Baltia. You are asked questions about yourself, much like the opening scene of Bladerunner, to determine if you are a human or android. From this you become a “special debt collector” and this sets you up for your current mission of completing jobs to repay your debt to society. There are three factions which you can choose to do jobs for, and as you complete these jobs you gain a better reputation with that faction as well as gain valuable body modications that increase your stats. The downside is you typically lower your reputation with the other factions in response.
As you get further into the game, your reputation rankings will cause you to be attacked on sight by the enemy factions but you also have to be careful because cops are always patrolling the streets to respond to the violence you cause. It’s a delicate balance of completing jobs and making progress, without drawing too much attention to yourself.
Jobs can be as simple as hunt down and kill a few NPCs or go from district to district blowing up objects. Some of the harder jobs involve limiting your time to get things done. Not being familiar with the areas or being an enemy to the territory’s faction can make completing those jobs harder. However, when you fail a job you can press R to immediately go back to the start and retry. This was quite a nice feature to make it feel like you aren’t being punished too hard for mistakes.
The controls are simple, you control your character with WASD and you can rotate by moving the mouse. Clicking fires your gun and the number keys uses healing items. You can hijack vehicles and drive them around but unfortunately the driving it’s not nearly as smooth and responsive as it should be. While in the car you can also listen to a few different radio stations which have some pretty decent music and some pretty funny commercials and segments. Your arsenal of destruction includes a variety of weapons like shotguns, pistols, machine guns, and rocket launchers. You can even hack characters and vehicles in the environment. The game’s world is really well put together and technically it functions like you would expect… in most cases.
Unfortunately, it’s not all bright neon lights and explosions. The game seems a bit poorly optimized and some aspects of the settings don’t function which is a shame. Even on a higher end PC, the game didn’t seem to run as smoothly as you would think it should for this type of game. Also a minor gripe that I have with the game is that it doesn’t autosave. You have to make sure to get to a safe house to save your progress and I honestly don’t remember the game ever letting you know this which caused me to lose an hour’s worth of progress.
With this being an early access game, there is plenty of time to remedy these issues and fix up any rough edges. There seems to be a decent amount of content that has yet to be unlocked. At the time of my playing, you are allowed to only explore one city but currently in the menu it has a total of 4 to unlock. While there are a few minor annoyances with optimization, Glitchpunk has a classic feel and there are definitely some fun moments to be had.