There are a lot of likable characters in Cyberpunk 2077. Judy is great, and I like Panam a lot, too. River is a good guy, and Kerry, well, I hated him for a while but he’s kinda growing on me. Nothing like a little character development to smooth off the sharp edges.
Those folks are your main romantic interests in Cyberpunk 2077, and while I do genuinely like them, I never developed any romantic feelings towards any of them. No, my crushes in Cyberpunk 2077 kept landing squarely on people you can’t really romance.
It’s something I’ve been thoughtfully pondering while I explore Night City and ram my arm-swords through the torsos of various gang screaming members. Why am I’m looking for love in all the wrong places, and why do keep wind up liking the people in Cyberpunk 2077 who won’t like me back?
Romance spoilers ahead, obviously.
Meredith can be romanced, sorta, briefly. And she’s the reason I chose the corpo lifestyle for my V. I saw her in a pre-launch game trailer and thought, “Wow, she’s a really mean corporate boss. Maybe if I play as a corpo, she can be mean to me, too. And then some.”
It’s not that I’m into mean people, it’s just that when someone hates you it means there’s an opportunity to get them to like you. And I’ve spent a lot of time in my real life trying to get people who hate me to instead like me because I presumably have some deep-seated issues that are long overdue for some therapy.
Unfortunately, the best you can do if you play your cards right with Meredith is a single sexual encounter. And I did, though I immediately regretted sleeping with her. As James pointed out, sex scenes in Cyberpunk 2077 are truly awful. Worse, Meredith wanted to do it in a grimy motel room instead of, as I’d imagined, an opulent but coldly impersonal hotel penthouse suite. Maybe she gets a thrill from stepping out of her ivory tower and rolling around in the gutter with dime-store mercs. No judgements! Everyone has their thing. I just found it a little disappointing, and after our ridiculous sex scene I felt like I’d lost my crush on her.
But afterwards I tried calling her a few times to see if she’d meet me again, and she never picks up, which is making me crush on her all over again. I guess I like to chase people who don’t want me, and while she won’t answer my calls she’s definitely got my number. I miss you, mean Meredith.
Placide is the best character in Cyberpunk 2077 and maybe in any RPG, ever. If you think about how characters typically behave toward you in RPGs, it’s to provide exposition, to make sure you know exactly what’s going on and what you’re meant to be doing, and (usually) to respond favorably to your behavior and dialogue, which makes you feel smart, important, and likable.
Placide does none of that. He tells you nothing. He doesn’t answer your questions. He is not swayed or charmed by V’s banter and he is having absolutely zero of V’s too-cool-for-school bullshit. He even tries to jack you into a computer without asking first, refreshing in a game where on-screen prompts appear before every single action you take. As Morgan put in in chat when we were discussing Placide, “he felt like the anti-RPG” character. I think that’s why I liked him so damn much.
It’s a massive disappointment to me that after that one mission, you don’t have more time with Placide. I’ve called him repeatedly since then hoping he’ll pick up, but really, why would he? Placide only saw V as tool to be used, and you don’t chat with a hammer, you just start bashing it against the nails that are in your way.
I spent a lot of time with Claire, my racing partner, as we sped through the city perpetually in first place because the AI driving is absolute shit. I first met Claire while she was tending bar in the Afterlife, and thought she was extremely cool—friendly, pretty, and while I know thumb rings have gotten a bad rap I don’t really understand why. What the hell is wrong with thumb rings? A thumb is a fine place to put a ring.
Anyway, Claire wears a thumb ring and she also seemed really interested in me. (See, I don’t just like people who treat me like shit.)
But it turns out Claire wasn’t actually interested in me, she just needed me to accomplish her own goals, and that definitely hurt a bit. At least Placide didn’t charm my pants off before throwing me at his problem. It still bugs me to see Claire whenever I’m at Afterlife, because she just treats me like a bartender treats any other customer. No, Claire, I don’t want a drink.
Very late in the game (which I still have yet to actually finish—say what you want about the bug-riddled mess, there is a hell of a lot of game in there) I meet Denny, a musician. She’s just a super cool person: a drummer with impeccable style. Having to make a choice between her and the asshole who wrecked her swimming pool was the easiest choice I’ve ever seen in an RPG. I don’t even know why it was a choice. The prompt should just click itself and then apologize for even asking.
I was instantly smitten with Denny, but sadly there’s not many chances to interact with her. And frankly, she’s a few hundred light years out of my league, way too cool for a sleazy ex-corpo. But I can still dream.
With so little going my way romantically in Cyberpunk 2077, is it hard to believe I’ve been reduced to hoping I’ll be able to date a sentient vending machine? I’m mostly metal now, too, so it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility, and humping a coin-operated food dispenser seems safer than trying to make it with the talking gun I found.
But I’ve only had one interaction so far with Brendan, where he asked me to push a crate out of the way so customers could actually see him. I think the next quest for this mechanical vendor might be bugged because I have a quest marker on my map but nothing happens when I visit him.
So far in Cyberpunk 2077 I’ve had sex with joy toys, with Meredith, with Panam, and I’ve kissed Kerry, but none of it felt romantic to me. My real crushes, sadly, only seem to land on people who won’t lob them back.