Born Punk Test – humorous SF thriller on a Baltic Sea island, one big cyberpunk cocktail

Born Punk Test - humorous SF thriller on a Baltic Sea island, one big cyberpunk cocktail


Cyberpunk stories don’t always have to take place in metropolises: Born Punkt, inspired by adventure classics, offers an exciting SF thriller with a lot of humor on the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm.

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All screenshots are from GamersGlobal

Probably each of us has dreamed of developing our own game. Thanks to freely available engines and crowdfunding platforms, this dream is more realistic than ever for many aspiring indie developers. The Australian studio (founded by the emigrant Falko Sokolow-Iles) Insert Disk 22 jumped at their chance in 2019 and found nearly 1,000 backers on Kickstarter. The invested 33,000 euros made it possible for the trio, in addition to Falko, to consist of Jean Czerny and an artist under the pseudonym Indrekto get started with their vision. In addition, the project was funded by the Victorian Production Fund.

The vision of the creative head Sokolow-Iles: his adventure, based on classic genre virtues à la LucasArts, should tell an exciting cyberpunk story in which your decisions influence how the story ends.

After three years of diligent development work, the result is now in the form of the science fiction adventure born punk before. Insert Disk 22 called large calibers like The Secret of Monkey Island and Beneath a Steal Sky as role models. This test will tell you how Born Punk sometimes reflects on the strengths of these classics, but otherwise misses the mark.

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The three playable characters eye us suspiciously. Which one you can actively control depends on the game situation.

A hacker, a CEO and an android walk into a bar…

What sounds like the start of a bad joke is exactly what happens in Born Punk. But let’s start at the beginning: You slip into the role of Eevi, who until recently worked as a “battle hacker” for a mega corporation, and now works as a bartender in her foster father’s bar. One morning, Eevi wakes up in her apartment not only with a hangover, but also with a strange voice in her head.

First you look around your apartment for a remedy for your headache. All hotspots in the room can be displayed. Right-click to examine them more closely, left-click to interact. One of the first puzzles: Finding some water to wash down the painkiller – but that’s just warming up, later puzzles are more atmospherically linked to the plot.

After Eevi has overcome the first little problems, the action switches to Mariposa, the female CEO of the company in question. She has just had an unpleasant encounter with an artificial intelligence and then also has an unwanted guest in her head.

You’ll later find yourself in the steely skin of “Grandmaster Flashdrive,” a seemingly schizophrenic android who speaks in two voices and thinks he’s a 1990’s hip-hop homie, and he dresses to match. As his story progresses, you guessed it, he too gets one more voice that haunts his head. Which is already three…

By now you should be aware that humor has its place in born punk. And it’s all the more fitting that it sounds like a joke: After the introduction of the three game characters, the storylines – and thus a hacker, a CEO and an android – meet in a bar.

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Who doesn’t wish to know their pet’s thoughts? In born punk, that’s not always a good idea…

One big cyberpunk cocktail, please!

If this isn’t your first exposure to the cyberpunk genre, many of the ingredients will look familiar: ruthless corporations, cyberware, runaway artificial intelligence, neon lights, constant surveillance, futuristic transportation, and so on and so on… The obvious paragons like blade runner or shadowrun are clearly referenced by Born Punk. Eevi, for example, borrows heavily from Shadowrun’s deckers, using common slang terms like “chummer,” which runners mean “buddy.” Typical themes of this subgenre are also touched upon, for example whether androids have rights and should perhaps even be given equal rights to humans.

Nevertheless, Born Punk manages to add something new to the genre. It starts with the location of the story. We are not in one of the typical metropolises like Los Angeles, Shanghai or Hong Kong. Instead, the action takes place in the city of Haven on the Danish Baltic Sea island of Bornholm, which also leads to a different look than in typically dirty future metropolises like in Cyberpunk 2077. But you’ll also see a lot of shabby corners and heaps of flashing and buzzing technology in Bornholm – in fact, the gameplay doesn’t even go to the coast. Insert Disk 22 could have done more with the unusual setting!

The sprinkles of humor in the gloomy world are also refreshing. Can you laugh at the homie android, or do you think it’s funny when a tough female hacker almost throws up opening a smelly biotank? Then your humor should be compatible with born punk – it rarely caught fire for me. But I ended up having a great time when a defective AI tried to identify objects and mistook a credit stick for a sex toy. There are also some references to old adventures, but that doesn’t lure a guybrush out from behind the pirate ship anymore.

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One feature I particularly like in Born Punk is interacting with cybernetic animals. That is just too seldom used. At least you can look forward to a few chats with cyber corgis and cats. In my run, however, I was not allowed to control a cat, contrary to what the Steam page promises.

What happens at Furry-Con stays at Furry-Con. Such extravagant locations make a pleasant exception to bars, corporate offices or the headquarters of important factions.