The genre of Cyberpunk is not a new one. The genre pulls from the Punk subculture and early Hacker culture, while usually exploring the not-so-distant dystopian future of humanity. In film, it started with Blade Runner. The pencil and paper RPG Shadowrun has found success for years. Numerous films, tv shows, video games and nearly every other medium has dipped its toes into the Cyberpunk genre. While the genre seemed to hit its peak in the 90s, there’s been a solid resurgence in the interest of the genre. What cyberpunk-y goodness lies out there for fans to consume? Jack-in, Chummer.
Cyberpunk takes a dystopian futuristic setting and explores the dangers of capitalism, addiction, tech-dependency, government overgrowth, and a host of other very real fears that resonate with today’s culture. As social media grows, as we bring technology more and more into every facet of our lives, as we depend on it more and more for survival, as drugs and gangs continue to be a fear for citizens in urban and rural areas alike, as our political world becomes more embroiled in controversy, the fantasy world that cyberpunk allows us to explore holds up a mirror to a lot of our fears. And of course, there’s the awesome tech that’s fun to play with and explore the ideas of. And the entertainment industry is capitalizing on its appeal – big time.
Netflix is killing it with genre shows, producing some of the most expensive and acclaimed sci-fi. And the past year has seen them push further into science fiction subgenres. Altered Carbon, based on a novel of the same name by Richard K. Morgan, is visually one of the best cyberpunk-anything fans have seen. While not a perfect show, plenty of fans of the book disliked how far they veered from the source material, and Netflix users had something to say about the representation (and misuse of) characters of color, the show still garnered many fans and a second season. Joel Kinnaman plays Takeshi Kovacs, a trained political mercenary who lives in a world where your consciousness can be downloaded and moved to different bodies, called sleeves. Takeshi is of Asian descent and has his sleeve replaced by Kinnaman who is Caucasian. Netflix seems to have heard those who lambasted the show for white-washing and have cast Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Infinity War’s Falcon) as Takeshi for season 2. While not the underrepresented Asian descent some will hope for, Mackie is a step in the right direction.
Netflix also has Kiss Me First, a kind of adult-orientated Ready Player One. When Leila stumbles into a group of fellow players in the virtual reality game she’s addicted to, she’s lead down a rabbit hole the leads to a mystery as her newfound friends begin to disappear. The special effects for the show are incredible, and the acting is wonderful. American fans who aren’t used to British dramas might find the show’s pace a bit strange and nuanced, but it’s worth the watch.
In video games, Cyberpunk 2077, brought to us by the developers of The Witcher 3, fits into the genre of its namesake. Cyberpunk 2077 even employs the voice talents of Blade Runner’s Rutger Hauer. An open world RPG, with a customizable character, the hype for Cyberpunk 2077 is high. The game is set for a June 2019 release date on PS4, XBox One, and PC.
With cyberpunk so much in the public eye this year, the sequel to Blade Runner, Blade Runner: 2049, coming out last year, there’s sure to be more for the fans of the genre to dive into in the coming months. Are you a cyberpunk fan? Are there cyberpunk themed games, shows, films or music you think people should know about? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook and Twitter!