Glitchpunk: Cyberpunk-style GTA 2

Glitchpunk is developed by the Polish studio Dark Lord, whose sources of inspiration are easily recalled: the first two games of the Grand Theft Auto series (in particular GTA 2) and the more aesthetic, brutal and nihilistic cyberpunk. It is a genre that has acquired a lot of popularity in recent times, more for its imagery than for the now withered social comment it originally carried. And in fact in Glitchpunk it is the imagination that prevails, and chaos. In the game, the city is at the mercy of the player’s voluptuousness: he can dispose of them at will. He can turn it into a battleground between gangs and police; travel far and wide aboard futuristic racing cars or interact with questionable characters to complete criminal contracts. The list doesn’t go much further as Glitchpunk is still in early access on Steam, so to get the full list of features you’ll have to wait a few months.

The alleys of New Baltia

In the early access version there is approximately a quarter of the planned content. There is only one city, called New Baltia, which will then be joined by Outpost Texas in a few weeks and two more before the release. Three of the twelve gangs and only a piece of the storyline of or of the protagonist, a memoryless android who is unscrupulously employed in the showdown between criminal gangs.

It is evident that writing is not one of Glitchpunk’s strengths, which limits itself to staging some stereotypical exchange of words and rattling off notions of petty philosophy on the humanity of androids. The greatest effort is delegated to the driving and combat systems, the most important vectors for the interaction with the metropolis: it is through the movements and the inevitable firefights that the city unfolds before the eyes of the player, showing itself as a succession twisted alleys and smoky underground lanes, high rises and dark abysses lined with metal. The view of GTA 2, that is from top to bottom, gives strength to the hyper-anthropized scenario of New Baltia: the sky is invisible, before the eyes only crowds of people, cars whizzing, metal beams and reinforced concrete; nothing that is attributable to a natural space.

The expressive charm of New Baltia is mainly due to the “trick” of the camera, yet the artists of Dark Lord have spared no talent in defining, especially from the auditory and lighting point of view, an enveloping atmosphere saturated with elements that recall the “classic” cyberpunk.

The city is the result of a particular alternation between two-dimensional sprites and three-dimensional models. Despite the squashed view, therefore, in New Baltia there is a hierarchy of passable heights and it can happen that the point of view deceives the perception and prevents you from seeing a ditch or a lethal fall for the character. The minimap is also subject to problems deriving from three-dimensionality: being two-dimensional it fails to define overpasses or underpasses and can therefore cause trouble if it is used to plan a move.

Paid hired killer

The activities in which “Texas”, the protagonist of the game can be engaged, are rather monotonous. His skills range from armed murder to reckless driving, and the city adapts to his characteristics (or is it vice versa?) By making assignments available exclusively of this type.

We accept missions received over the phone on behalf of one of the three gangs of New Baltia or we engage in challenges where a precise number of targets must be killed within a limited time, beyond the artistic care with which the metropolis was outlined, therefore , this should not be expected to have a functional or realistic appearance as well: it is simply a background, a battlefield where you can unleash chaos with weapons purchased at vending machines (clear indication of what the future imagined in Glitchpunk is like).

When you’re not shooting, you’re driving. But he drives by making fun of the rules, running over passers-by and triggering chases with the police with almost always fatal outcomes. It is not that you cannot drive with grace and calm, but it is extremely difficult to do so due to an unintuitive control system, which does not include the use of the mouse (used instead in the walking sections) and which forces you to mental contortion. to understand which button to turn right and which button to left, since with a bird’s eye camera it often happens that they are reversed. Heterogenesis of ends or not, this exponentially increases the number of scenarios of chaos and destruction, one of the characteristics that, considering the promotional material, Glitchpunk sports with greater pride.

What makes the protagonist the perfect bringer of chaos, in addition to reckless driving and familiarity with weapons of course, are its hacking modules with which it can exercise control over the population. One of the ones we tried in Early Access caused a killing frenzy in the target, often triggering an explosive chain reaction.

Emerging events happen even without the player’s intercession: thefts occur, some brawls, the police are active in intervening after a crime committed by artificial intelligence; but sometimes she reacts disproportionately: it may happen that she collides with a car, however she considers the vehicle as a criminal and attacks it until it is destroyed.

We believe it is not a deliberate behavior, but it is a hilarious and somehow functional “glitch”: seeing the city runaway for a trifle is after all a pleasant diversion from quests that they took Rockstar’s example too literally, namely that they are linear and uncompromising in an almost capricious way.