Cyberpunk seems to be making a welcome resurgence in gaming these days. The latest title to delve into a dystopian future of high tech and lowly station is indie developer Insert Disk 22 – at least, they will if they're able to secure the necessary crowdfunding for Born Punk on Kickstarter.
The year is 2155, when the Danish island of Bornholm has been "transformed from a quaint holiday getaway with some interesting history to a proper mega-city, governed by a corporate council called The Conglomerate." After a decade working as a "corporate combat hacker," 34-year-old Eevi Rinasdottir is "forced to return to the place of her humble beginnings, to work as a barkeep for her foster father, and to dream of returning to the glittering corporate lifestyle she had grown used to." Unbeknownst to Eevi, however, an "electronic entity has infected her cyberdeck," and when it manifests itself she begins suffering what is "essentially a digital multiple personality disorder." As she seeks "answers about the nature of the intruder, either come to terms with it or try to expel it from her body," matters go from bad to worse when Eevi uncovers "a conspiracy that could change humanity's future forever."
While Born Punk's pixel art is "tinted darkish and cyberpunkish" and the game promises to touch on "many genre-typical themes like AI rights, human augmentation and the power of corporations," the developers want their retro-styled adventure to "portray the world as one that has not lost the last spark of hope." During the course of the game, players must help the protagonist "solve logical puzzles, advance the story via dialog with the game's diverse characters, and decide whether it is brains or brawns that will serve her best – for every choice, there is a consequence."
The emphasis on player agency means that many puzzles will have alternate solutions, often involving "dichotomies between violence/peace, subterfuge/honesty, and egotism/altruism." Adding to your options will be the discovery of "lore" items, which aren't necessary to complete the game but unlike in most adventures, here such objects provide knowledge that "can be used for puzzles or dialogs to produce different outcomes." You'll also get to make use of Eevi's augmentations, as "she is able to hack into electronic devices, use her artificial titanium claws to attack or defend herself, and her cybernetic eye gives her insight that is hidden from 'normal' humans."
To showcase Born Punk, a playable demo has been released for Windows, Mac and Linux, offering an early slice of the full game in which Eevi must get ride of an "ungodly hangover" and then overcome her malfunctioning electronic door security to get to her nightly "data drill." (Or, if you'd rather, you can simply watch an extended gameplay video of the same demo.)
In order to complete the game, the small indie Australian development team has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise nearly $10,000 (US) by March 7th. If all goes well, we could be seeing Born Punk released on PC, consoles and mobile devices beginning as early as January 2020.