Cypher revisits classic text-based gaming with a classic cyberpunk style

Omri Petitte

I love cyberpunk. Its emotionally charged techno-noir powers a motif revolving around the struggle of humanity's identity in the face of technology's juggernaut ascension, often set in the neon jungles of rain-slick megacities with grizzled, world-weary protagonists wearing baggy trenchcoats. It's all excellent gaming fodder, and indie Argentinian duo Cabrera Brothers brings cyberpunk's weightiness into Cypher , a colorful text-based throwback.

Lifting direct inspiration from cyberpunk's 1980s boom - think Blade Runner, William Gibson novels, and Max Headroom - Cypher bravely brands itself as "the comeback of commercial text adventures." As a smuggler fresh off the moon, you explore NeoSushi City (yes, really) for answers while storing codes in your noggin and evading head-chopping Hunters, the police, and the inevitable femme fatale wearing red stiletto heels.

"Cypher runs on the most powerful graphics card in the history of mankind: your imagination," Cypher's somewhat jumbled official website states.

Cypher's trailer displays the intricacy of commands available for players, a necessity for text-heavy games, but also a really good reason for a sturdy keyboard. Purchasing any of the three DRM-free versions nets you a pack of "feelies" as bonus content to use in-game, like phone number flyers, background information, and command lists.

In a comment over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun , Cabrera Brothers chalked up misspellings noted by players as translation errors and promised a forthcoming patch resolving faulty words, though as one poster states, sorting out clear, strong text in a game critically relying on mountains of sentences and paragraphs is "the single most important thing" for any kind of success in a genre as old as interactive fiction.

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