The World of Cyberpunk 2077 is basically an RPG supplement without the RPG stats. It is a guidebook to the fascinating world of Cyberpunk 2077, video game sequel/adaptation of Mike Pondsmith’s fantastic world of Cyberpunk 2020. Created in the 1980s, it was a tabletop RPG that attempted to combine all the disparate and crazy dystopian worlds that were proliferating in both fiction as well as movies. It largely succeeded and inspired multiple imitators that went on to do their own spin on the genre or ideas within.
I really enjoyed Cyberpunk 2077, for the most part, as the storytelling as well as visuals went a long way to overcoming the numerous bugs present within. Indeed, as something of a lore junkie, I was determined to immerse myself in the weird and amazing world of the alternate timeline presented within. A world where the Soviet Union never fell, environmental devastation destroyed much of the Earth, and megacorporations had emerged as nation-states that controlled much of the planet’s economy.
This is a delightfully detailed world that has a lengthy history, description of the various factions, and the geo-political situation of the world that is largely only hinted in the game proper. For example, Militech was nationalized after the events of the Fourth Corporate War and used to help rebuild the United States of America but has since undermined control of the restored government to take it over from the inside.
However, that sort of gets into the primary problem of the book. Specifically, before you shell out twenty dollars for this full color and fascinating book (both the Kindle as well as hardback cost the same), you must ask yourself “How much do I love Cyberpunk 2077?” Because that is certainly a question you should ask for this book. Because you’re not getting any story here, only details about a world that exists only in a video game right now. If you’re the kind of person who loves art books to movies or sitting down to read The History of Hyrule, Onward Arasaka Soldier, but this is going to be essentially like paying for a beautifully illustrated few hours on the game’s wiki.
The art is spectacular in this book with a lot of images that help bring to world the satirical and hilarious world of Night City. Indeed, I’d say the book does a better job of realizing the setting than the proper game itself. I feel like if you’re a fan of Cyberpunk 2077 or plan to run Cyberpunk RED then this is a book to pick up. If you aren’t fascinated by the deep lore and mythology of either, then this book is probably not for you. There’s no story or plot but just description of how the setting works as well as its history.
However, I do think this book works well as a supplement for the video game if you plan on doing a “deep dive” of roleplaying for it. A lot of the in-game material to appreciate Cyberpunk 2077 are done on Shards that are hard to read or in “blink and miss it” discussions. This assembles a large part of the setting’s lore and presents in a very well-organized fashion that will allow a player character to understand not just who Arasaka as well as Militech are but what the consequences of Johnny Silverhand’s nuke were.
In conclusion, I got my money’s worth, but I am a huge cyberpunk fan. I read it, I watch it, and I play it both on tabletop as well as in video games. I’m specifically a fan of the setting too. So, let the buyer beware. Still, the book is gorgeous and full of excellent satire as well as well-reasoned world-building. Mike Pondsmith must be proud.