NEON HAZE

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>If you like Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell, you like cyberpunk. And if you like cyberpunk, you’ll like game designer Porpentine, who frequently plays off cyberpunk tropes in fresh ways.

Her latest game, Neon Haze, is a cyberpunk text adventure. But if you’re reading this asking “hold on: cyber-what?,” here’s a quick primer.

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Cyberpunk was born in 1984 with William Gibson’s Neuromancer. Gibson appropriated bits and pieces of Raymond Chandler’s classic, tough 30s crime fiction (and their cinematic progeny, film noir) as well as Philip K. Dick’s drug-addled, existential sci-fi, adding plenty of slang, Japanophilia, class critique, and an invented precursor to the internet named…the Matrix. Sound familiar?

What Gibson came up with was a sort of noir refracted through microchips: a world in which nothing is beyond the reach of hackers, everyone is out for their own gain, and technology is rapidly slipping beyond human control.

Yes, Neuromancer was written when “hacking” was still part of the counterculture rather than a tool of harassment, and from Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash to resurgent card game Netrunner the genre has never abandoned its love of the hack. But cyberpunk offers other, more subtle pleasures as well: the glow of neon through wet glass, the crackle of television static, the plethora of invented words like “meatspace” and “cyberdeck” .

PS: If you’d like a taste of Porpentine’s other work, and don’t mind some seriously squicky body horror, give CYBERQUEEN a shot. Then … go play the rest of her stuff.

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