GlitchPunk is a game I’ve been following for some time. This old GTA-style cyberpunk adventure intrigued me months ago with its edgy veneer and willingness to commit to the homage. While it does some things well enough to conjure up the times of old, it also brings back some of the ‘90s biggest flaws
Glitchpunk is a top-down cyberpunk game placing you in the shoes of an android bounty hunter. Upon booting it up, you are given little more than this and told to go on your way. You meet a man named Magnus who performs a kind of personality check on your cyber brains. Upon being asked what to do with a “half-dead junkie lying at the front door of your apartment”, I said I would drive him to a rehab clinic. This was met by a condescending sneer as driving him there would get him killed by the rehab clinic's bad service, something anyone in this world should know.
This is a theme the game plays on quite well. A good person in a bad world has limited options to do much more than looking after himself. The world of Glitchpunk is occasionally a bit pretty but very dark. The next question is about what you would do after your mother passes. Magnus judged me poorly for organizing a funeral, suggesting it was me allowing others to deal with my problems. You play Glitchpunk and its world judges you.
This test assigned me as an undesirable person in the city - an illegal immigrant frowned upon by everyone. I was then just let out into the world. Its city didn't want me there and wouldn’t do enough to get me out. The story then dissolves and you can do whatever you like, as long as it doesn’t get you killed. There’s initially great joy in this freedom but the lack of something more grounding can become a little tedious on replay. You are given a handful of missions and must complete them to progress the story and find new gear.
Unfortunately, for the most part, your desires feel unfounded and the actions you commit to complete quests leave a lot to be desired. Gameplay is initially quite engaging and sprinting away from the police or particularly aggressive civilians can be quite thrilling until you die again. The game treats death with such reverence that the very act becomes monotonous. You pick yourself up and try it again and again until it works. You come back to the same amount of money and the same opportunities to get gear.
Death wouldn’t be an issue if the gunplay didn’t feel so inaccurate and fiddly. I often found myself shooting bullets almost straight through the target into a wondering police officer off-screen. This removes a serious amount of fun that is otherwise had exploring the boundaries of the game and watching all those bustling citizens walk around.
The game plays with an interesting take on a factions system. Doing certain missions will leave you shunned by other characters. It isn’t very upfront about the extent of this choice but it works in its favor to show how brutal its world can really be. Just like the choice you make at the start of the game, you are only given 10% of what’s actually going on whilst having to deal with 100% of its consequences. It’s a genuinely fascinating system brought down by some pretty fundamental issues with the game.
This is before the game's glitches and performance issues poke their ugly head. Upon first booting this game up, it barely ran, getting a handful of fps out of a Ryzen 7 / RTX 3070 combo. This issue was resolved after the first week but it still doesn’t run as well as it should. Testing out on my Ryzen 5 / 1660 super rig has the same issues. The game has improved even more since then but it still doesn’t run smoothly.
This is part of my issue with Glitchpunk, and why it has taken so long to put out this preview. There’s quite a lot in here that is interesting and unique. There are little concepts that could be great if explored more but this feels very early access. The game barely ran when I first played it but, even so, some of what makes it interesting shined through.
Glitchpunk - Verdict
Glitchpunk is one of those titles I could see going either way over its Early Access period. I initially played it just days after release and my performance chugged, everything felt clunky and the entire experience felt poor. Then mere weeks later, these issues cleared up a little as the game started to come into its own. Like the world of Glitchpunk itself, the game shows promise under all that dirt.
TechRaptor previewed Glitchpunk on PC Via Steam with a code provided by the developers. The game currently does not have a full release date.