Cyberpunk 2077 has a cutscene that is able to trigger epileptic seizures in players, which is a worrying oversight from CD Projekt Red.
Liana Ruppert, associate editor for Game Informer, wrote their own guide on how to navigate this unavoidable element of the game. "Cyberpunk 2077 is about hedonistic excess," said Ruppert. "Much like the tabletop game that inspired the open-world RPG, everything is brighter, louder, and more in your face. Pair that with the reliance on technological interfacing, and some triggers were expected. With Cyberpunk 2077, however, there are a lot that you need to be aware of."
The Braindance is an integral part of the storyline, and it allows the protagonist to jump into a literal recording of another character's memory, and explore within it. It's a bit like the rewind mechanic in Life is Strange, or the remix mechanic in Remember Me. "Pretty much everything about this is a trigger and this is something that caused me to have a grand mal seizure when playing to help with our review," explained Ruppert. The issue lies with the headset that the character pulls over their eyes to begin the Braindance. This instigates a sequence of rapidly flashing white and red LEDs, which they found to be eerily familiar to the lights they've seen when doctors have triggered seizures for diagnostic purposes.
"If not modeled off of the IRL design, it's a very spot-on coincidence, and because of that this is one aspect that I would personally advise you to avoid altogether," continued Ruppert. "When you notice the headset come into play, look away completely or close your eyes. This is a pattern of lights designed to trigger an epileptic episode and it very much did that in my own personal playthrough."
It's a worrying design flaw in the game, because seizures come with serious consequences. Someone playing the game alone in their house might fall from their chair and injure themselves, or inhale saliva or vomit if they land on their back. Convulsive seizures (ones that last for five minutes or more) require immediate medical attention, and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy takes the life of about 1 in 1,000 people with epilepsy each year. Now, we're aware that these are worst-case scenarios here, but they are outcomes that CD Projekt Red should have considered, flagged up, and remediated before the game released.
Ruppert's guide also mentions that the glitchy animations of the Braindance are another unavoidable risk, and suggests that players pause and play the recording of the memory at their own pace. They advise that players dim the blue light emitted from their monitors to reduce the likelihood of a seizure from the clubs and bars of Night City, and from the blue glitches in encounters with Johnny Silverhand. Hopefully, CD Projekt Red takes this on board and rolls out a patch that removes the flashing LEDs, as well as other accessibility options that change colours or transparency of glitching effects.
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