Gamedec is a cyberpunk RPG about a virtual sleuth that I've had my eye on since it was announced in August. Quests and combat are replaced with cases involving crimes in VR, which you'll have to solve through interrogation, hacking and following the evidence until you're ready to come to a conclusion. In its first dev diary, which you can watch above, we learn a bit more about Low City, the seedy part of town.
While gamedecs solve crimes in VR, you'll still spend time in meatspace. Gamedec is set in Warsaw, but so far we've only seen glimpses of Low City and some of the virtual worlds we'll be able to visit.
Marcin Przybyłek, author of the Gamedec books, explains that he's fascinated with elevated cities with suspended walkways and no ground in sight, citing Fifth Element and Core Design's 2001 sci-fi action-adventure, Project Eden as two of his main inspirations. Warsaw, then, is teeming with massive skyscrapers connected by bridges and is no place to live for anyone with vertigo.
Low City, where it's perpetually dark, is home to lots of night clubs and gangsters, and below that are the ruins of old Warsaw, where scavengers root around for artefacts, books and other pieces of Warsaw's history. If you're visiting it to meet a client and begin an investigation, you might be robbed, ripped off or get into some bother with the local gangsters, but there's no combat system in Gamedec. That doesn't mean things can't descend into violence, but expect to spend a lot more time chatting.
Gamedec lets you pick skills and backgrounds that might make things easier as you navigate futuristic Warsaw's neon underbelly, as well as when you're trying to crack a case in VR. While skills depend on rolls initially, enough successes will turn them into a permanent aspect of your personality that no longer relies on RNG.
Unlike Cyberpunk 2077, Gamedec isn't based on a tabletop RPG, but it's definitely got tabletop sensibilities. More, perhaps. Before they're added to the game, cases are prototyped in pen-and-paper sessions where players can throw out ideas and solutions they've come up with, then the most compelling or popular ones become in-game solutions.
More than any other RPG, I'm reminded of Disco Elysium. They're both investigative and lack combat systems, and Disco Elysium was similarly inspired by tabletop roleplaying. As much as I love getting in brawls in games like Divinity: Original Sin 2, I spend most of my time in RPGs trying to avoid combat. What type of person gets in 20 fights a day? That's not an adventure, it's a massacre, and I'm keen to see more developers not treat it as a necessity.
Gamedec is due out next year.