Neuromancer may very well be the first cyberpunk videogame. The idea of cyberpunk itself is not common among games as of this writing, and author William Gibson is one of the most influential people shaping the genre. This particular title is based on Gibson's novel of the same name.
Neuromancer succeeds in bringing the idea of a cyberpunk future to life on your PC screen. The concept of cyberpunk is, in a lot of ways, an inevitable reaction to the development and popularization of the science fiction genre. Whereas science fiction looks to a distant future where mankind makes stunning technological advances that immeasurably improve the standard of life, cyberpunk is more interested in examining the near future and technology that's just a few short development steps away.
A cyberpunk world is a dark and gritty environment where technology has thoroughly permeated everyday life, but not always in a positive way. Because technology is advancing so rapidly and can do so much, human life and humanity is generally cheapened to the point where cyberpunk citizens can replace parts of their own bodies with cybernetic replacements for cosmetic reasons.
Neuromancer portrays this sort of world exceptionally well and, as you play, you'll be thoroughly engrossed with its vision of a dark future. As you begin exploring, one of the first actions you can take is to sell parts of your body for cash. You can even sell your heart and walk out richer (but with a cheap plastic replacement)!
The world is so thorough it may actually put off some gamers. Neuromancer requires that you have a pen and paper by your side to write down all the notes and clues encountered. This will please adventure or RPG gamers who are used to having to "work" to beat games, but casual gamers looking for a bit of light fun will find the amount of information provided to be overwhelming.
Actual gameplay is quite decent. Neuromancer combines the best aspects of RPG and adventure in that it gives you a lot of places to explore and things to do but also fleshes out your character with details and allows you to advance his attributes. The plot unfolds through messages left to you on bulletin boards and, as a cyber cowboy (hacker), much of what you do revolves around getting into the matrix (Internet-like) and hacking your way through. Combat is handled in a unique way in that you run programs to disable computer security measures.
Neuromancer is decent in the sound and graphics departments, too. Although limited by the capabilities of the internal PC speaker, the game nonetheless manages to deliver a few slightly catchy and convincingly cyberpunk tunes. The gritty and detailed graphics enhance the cyberpunk environment and the game also makes exceptional use of coloring. In some of the locations, more colors are displayed on screen at one time than many of the games released in this timeframe (c.1988).
The only real complaint about the game's graphics is that most of the colors used are too bright, almost fluorescent looking. The color choice actually makes the world look a bit too cheerful and takes some of the edge off the atmosphere. Despite this and a few minor flaws, the game delivers on solid adventuring and RPG gameplay in an engrossing cyberpunk environment.
Neuromancer is required playing for all gamers who consider themselves fans of cyberpunk and will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience for just about anyone willing to invest the amount of effort the game requires.
Graphics: The game makes great use of colors while, at the same time, managing to make the graphics look gritty to fit the cyberpunk environment.
Sound: It manages to deliver some cyberpunk style tunes that are quite catchy despite the limitations of the internal PC speaker.
Enjoyment: The game has a compelling storyline with immersive and interesting environments.
Replay Value: The story is basically linear but there are a lot of places to explore and things to do.
Based on the cyberpunk novel by William Gibson. In a grimy future, you play Case, a cyberspace cowboy who finds himself broke in Chiba City. Find yourself a laptop and the right software for it so you can hack into databases around the city to regain your access to cyberspace. Buy and upgrade brain implant chips to augment your computer skills, and sell your body parts to afford new technologies. When you get to cyberspace, you'll take on the nasty AIs that guard the most important databases. Within all this information is the bizarre secret of this world of inbred corporations.
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