Despite some early access bugs, Glitchpunk is still a lot of fun, especially for those with some nostalgia of playing GTA2.
Glitchpunk is a top-down action game inspired by classics such as Grand Theft Auto 2 and released in early access in August 2021. Developed by Dark Lord and published by Daedalic Entertainment, the cyberpunk neon tones are rife as you play as an android, an outcast of society, surviving in dystopian streets, back alleys and amongst skyscrapers in New Baltia, one of four possible locations. While the gameplay is initially appealing and the aesthetics of the game grabbed my attention, it’s not long until you remember it’s still in early access with numerous bugs. There are workarounds in the Steam forums, but some can be enough to break immersion and lose progress. Still, it has promise once these immediate issues get sorted. It’s been 6 months with very few updates so time will tell if we can see this come to fruition.
After a short interrogation by Magnus, you’re declared an android and must serve the city. You complete contracts for three factions by visiting pay phones to pick up your missions. The factions are Ordo, Reapers or Plague and each starts with neutral reputation where you can pass each other in the street with no issue. The premise is there with combat using your fists or weapons that you find or purchase from vending machines, and driving vehicles that feels a little drifty, but is fun to hoon around the cityscapes with a couple of radio station options.
As you complete contracts in Glitchpunk, you’ll gain reputation with that faction but lose rep with the other two, so how you play will affect your standing. You can see faction representatives and gang members in the streets, signified by coloured icons on the map. If you lose too much reputation with a faction, they will shoot you on sight or knock you down to rob you of cash, so be prepared to defend yourself with weapons and know where some vehicles are for quick getaways. Finishing contracts will reward you with money and sometimes a module upgrade. Modules grant new abilities and hacks that can be used to your advantage.
Hacking allows you to alter the minds of individuals for a short time. Hacking and using abilities depletes focus, the blue lines underneath your health bar. This can be replenished by buying drinks at vending machines. Buying food or medpacs will replenish health. Hacking can be used to distract a nearby police officer while you take out a target, or to stop a running target so you can catch up to them or prevent them from escaping into a building. We can’t enter buildings in Glitchpunk, only stick to the streets. Sometimes it’s difficult to work out how to access contract terminals as they appear inside buildings on the map. You just need to walk around the perimeter finding a walkway, or often there could be stairs leading to an upper level. The top-down view is great, but sometimes hampers your progress until you learn these types of solutions.
Each time you commit a crime with police officers nearby, it will raise your wanted level and cause the police to chase and shoot at you. You can lose the wanted level by evading for a long time or by completing a contract as they will pay off your bounty. If you die during a mission, which happened regularly while I was learning how to play, you’ll respawn at a hospital. You will have lost all your weapons and consumable items, but you can press R to restart the mission you were on. If you do restart the mission, remember you will need to go find or purchase a weapon and supplies before heading out.
There is good potential with the ideas and concepts and I’m looking forward to seeing further updates, but there are a few issues that prop up from time to time marring the experience. There are no auto saves and no saves after completing a contact. The only way to save is to visit the central safe house, but this can only be down once you’ve completed the current contract. Sometimes the game’s FPS will suddenly start dropping, making driving a vehicle particularly hard. In this instance, you need to quit to the menu and load back in, but if you’re mid-contract, you can’t save so could lose that progress.
Despite some early access bugs, Glitchpunk is still a lot of fun, especially for those with some nostalgia of playing GTA2. The neon cyberpunk and dystopian theme is great and driving vehicles is a blast. Just be wary this is still very much in early access so expect some ‘glitches’ in Glitchpunk.
This review utilised a key provided by Renaissance PR and Glitchpunk is available to play on Steam early access.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis