Glitchpunk Early Access Review: Pew, Pew — But Futuristic

Glitchpunk harkens to a simpler time and currently has gameplay and writing that does the same.

Glitchpunk asks you to remember the olden days of Grand Theft Auto, back when it was a top-down carnage simulator instead of the online behemoth it's become in recent years. Set is a dark and edgy cyberpunk world, Glitchpunk casts you as a newcomer to the city, one who's an android, and that instantly means most people hate you.

You're special, though. You're able to go against your programming, which means you can do whatever the hell you want. Well, theoretically...

You'll actually have to align yourself with factions as you go and complete their missions to further the story. There are no real good guys in this world because it's a cyberpunk story, so you just have to decide on which version of unpleasant you're going to be, rather than how heroic you are.

And every time you complete a mission for someone, you'll end up upsetting everyone else, so there's a fine balance to be drawn.

Glitchpunk Early Access Review: Pew, Pew — But Futuristic

As it's a GTA-inspired game, you'll be happy to know that guns are sold in vending machines all over the place, and if you want to, you can gun down just about anybody. Combat feels fine, weapons make satisfying sounds, and things die if you shoot them. But Glitchpunk lacks some of the feedback that helps games truly stand out amongst the sea of titles released nowadays.

There's no real nuance in its combat outside of pointing your gun at things and pulling the trigger, or smacking enemies in the head with a stun baton or other melee weapon. It's all fairly simple stuff, though it is enhanced by your ability to hack the things around you.

One of the first augments you get allows you to put nearby people into a rage state, where they'll basically attack everything, and that's quite good fun.

Gonna Take You for a Drive

The world of Glitchpunk is, even in its Early Access state, absolutely massive. Walking from one side of the city to the other takes an age, and because it's futuristic, the roads often make no sense whatsoever. There are very few places you can't accidentally get run over if you're not paying attention.

Of course, you can always go ahead and grab yourself a vehicle. Driving is easy, although the vehicles never feel very good to control. I'm not sure if this is meant to be because the old GTA games are equally awkward to control. but it's either very on-point if so or just frustrating if not.

Well, it's actually pretty frustrating either way, because driving nearly always ends with you running over several people by accident or crashing. That could just be me though.

An Aptly Named Game (At Least So Far)

As you can probably tell, I'm fairly middling on Glitchpunk as it stands. I know it's Early Access, so I'm definitely taking that into account, but there are a few little technical bugs and hiccoughs during my time with the game that were rather jarring. The frame rate occasionally grinds to a sudden halt, and there were several of times where I had to Alt+F4 the game as it stopped cooperating properly.

Outside of the tech stuff, the writing is needlessly aggressive and edgy. I get it, cyberpunk is a genre about dystopia, but it all feels a bit like everyone is a teenager all angry at their parents for putting them to bed too early. These aren't people crushed by the weight of inevitable capitalistic ruin and a complete lack of hope. They all just feel kind of grumpy.

I don't dislike Glitchpunk, but I'm also not enamored with it. I feel pretty neutral about it all, but I do think that the gameplay loop, while fun for half an hour, grows stale ultimately. There's not much to indicate that things will be more complex as the game evolves, but I'm hopeful that I'll be proven wrong in this case, because I'm sure there are plenty of people hungry for a return to old-school GTA games.

[Note: Daedalic Entertainment provided the Early Access copy of Glitchpunk used for this EA review.]

Contributor

Jason likes the gym, roguelikes, and FromSoftware. There is a pattern there for sure, but try not to read too much into it. He's also a freelance games journalist who is slowly trying to take over the world. Not in a menacing way though, he'd probably just make everyone get pets or something.

Games Glitchpunk Genres ActionAdventure Platforms
Published Aug. 20th 2021

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