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Remember when Johnny Silverhand’s girlfriend got kidnapped in Cyberpunk 2077? It should have been much scarier

“They wanted it to be terrifying and it was.”

Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty.
Image credit: VG247/CD Projekt

If you’ve played Cyberpunk 2077, one of the scenes that may well have imprinted itself on your brain is the sequence that sees you get to take to the stage with Samurai as Johnny Silverhand way back before he got relic’d. One thing you might not know, however, is that the kidnapping scene that follows it was originally recorded to be a lot more harrowing.

If you need a bit of a recap now that we’re far enough out from the original Cyberpunk that work on its sequel has kicked off, one of the moments from Johnny’s past V gets to relive is his netrunner girlfriend, Alt Cunnigham, being kidnapped by Arasaka. It’s an important bit of development you need to see to try and understand why Keanu Reeves’ character arguably acts the way he does at times, and it seems CD Projekt’s original plan for driving that home was to make it a lot more emotional and harrowing.

Speaking during CDPR’s most recent REDstream, Alix Wilton Regan, Cunningham’s voice actress, singled out that scene as one of the most emotional bits of acting she had to do for the game, mentioning that only a bit of what was recorded ended up making it into the finished product. “We recorded a lot more violence as they were kidnapping Alt and taking her away, and we recorded a lot more fear and a lot more tears,” Regan recalled.

“[CD Projekt] wanted it to be really harrowing, and I was like ‘ok, yeah, the baddies are not [messing] around basically’, so they wanted it to be terrifying and it was, so there were tears [from me] in that moment,” she continued. “But, it was only an edited [down] version that actually made it into the [finished] game.”

Given how important that scene is from an emotional perspective for Silverhand, who I’d argue feels like he’s fighting with V to be the main character a fair amount of the time in the base version of Cyberpunk 2077, it’s surprising to hear the CD Projekt seemingly elected to tone it down. While I’m usually more of a fan of subtlety, I do think having moments like that pack more of a gut punch or get a little more emphasis might have made me like base version of Cyberpunk’s main story as much as I did that of the Phantom Liberty expansion.

Then again, ratcheting up the emotional stakes for a pivotal scene like this can sometimes come off as feeling a bit forced or over the top, so it could well be for the best that we got the version of the scene we ended up with.

If thinking about what might have been has you feeling like another Cyberpunk playthrough, it might be worth checking out this new mod that aims to make finding all of the hidden secrets in Phantom Liberty’s Dogtown a bit more immersive and rewarding.

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