The various gameplay segments CD Projekt RED has treated players throughout Cyberpunk 2077‘s development process have shown players everything from roleplay to gunplay. But today’s “Night City Wire” stream showed off an entirely new mechanic, the braindance system.
Players of the tabletop game are undoubtedly familiar with the term, while fans of the genre should be familiar with the concept. Used primarily as avant-garde art medium, penal “rehabilitation” method, and the last pornographic media you will ever need, braindance is a total immersion sensorium. It allows the user to not simply see and hear what the “viewpoint” sees and hears, but also incorporates tactile and olfactory sensations as well as other biophysical data like adrenaline levels or pharmacological responses. Films like Strange Days and The Matrix, as well as “moddies” from George Alec Effinger’s “Budayeen” novels, demonstrate similar technologies.
Within the confines of Cyberpunk 2077, braindance looks to be the method by which players will investigate certain activities, possibly picking up new leads for jobs or trying to figure out why their latest gig went pear-shaped so badly. Mechanically, players will be able to move back and forth throughout a given braindance recording much like using video editing software. They’ll be able to separate themselves from the viewpoint to move about the environment, get more detailed information on individuals and objects, and potentially learn new clues for whatever quests they might be actively pursuing.
CD Projekt RED had previously mentioned some player dissatisfaction with the way investigations were handled in The Witcher games, particularly The Witcher III. The team appears to have put a lot of thought and effort into making braindance a much more useful (and user-friendly) system of investigation. It remains to be seen if it will be strictly for investigative purposes, or if we can indulge our inner Edgerunner to experience “day in the life” sorts of moments.