Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Review


     Cyberpunk 2077, a video game developed and published by CD Projekt Red back in 2020, is notorious for having one of gaming’s biggest failed launches. Thousands of refunds and copies, both physical and online were recalled, due to the product being in a bug-filled, poorly run state. However, the developers did not abandon their project after seeing it flop. Over the years, they’ve been steadily improving their game with quality changes, bug fixes, and are even planning releases of new content. With that, as a part of their biggest resurgence, they teamed up with animation studio Trigger, to create an animated spin-off  titled Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. It was first announced on Aug. 30, and was released Sept. 13 on Netflix. How does this show hold up? Is it as broken of a mess as the game it’s based off of, or does it exceed expectations?

Going into Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, the most important thing to keep in mind as a viewer is that you do not need to play the game or even have to like it to enjoy the show. It does not utilize the plot of the game, but rather is in favor of creating something new and original. With that said, they do have a number of similarities: they both take place in the fictional Night City,  and some characters from the game make an appearance. So those who are familiar with Cyberpunk and those who are getting into it are both happy with what is included.

The story follows teenage David Martinez, played by Zach Aguilar, as he transitions from street kid to an “Edgerunner,” the nickname given to someone who constantly puts themselves in danger, living on the ‘edge’ of death. David begins the story as a low income juvenile attending a prestigious academy. Very often he would find himself getting into fights with other students, and causing trouble by destroying the institution’s property. His life would turn around, however, when he and his mother, the only person caring for him, would be caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout on the road. The deadly encounter would lead to his mother’s passing. It was this moment that led David to abandon his past academic life to find a new purpose. Getting a cybernetic implant on himself that grants him “Sandevistan”, the ability to move at a superspeed, However, an important factor of implants is that the abuse of them could lead to psychological side effects, the worst being “cyberpsychosis,” in which the user suffers from major psychotic and anxiety-related personality disorders. 

Edgerunners tackles a multitude of themes, stepping outside of basic conflicts throughout it’s 10 episodes. From a surface level perspective, you could view it as a dystopian power fantasy, but it goes deeper than that; the main character’s struggles of balancing his new line of criminal work, the relationships with his newfound colleagues, whom are a great supporting cast by the way, and combating the cognitive damages from using his new ability all play a defining part in his story. Depending on what you’re looking for in a series, Edgerunners presents it in a visually gratifying way. The setting is polished in every scene, making Night City look alive and believable. The characters also get the same treatmment: when animating a show based around cybernetics, and a majority of the cast have a cyborg element to them and are constantly in action, there are many creative approaches to representing their prosthetics and their uses. The graphics of their ideas were masterfully implemented, creating eye-catching scenes that gravitate the audience towards observing every detail, which drives for a more emotional impact as well when something big happens.

It can whole-heartedly be said that Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is one of Netflix’s most stunning animated features. Working with a renowned game studio and a terrific animating team, presented a futuristic atmosphere of chaos and romance, seen through the eyes of a character trying to forge his own path in a world  run by technology.