'Cypher' immerses players in a cyber-punk world of action and suspense

The Cabrera Brothers, better known as Javier and Carlos, created a cyber-punk world with sci-fi fans in mind.

Cypher is a game that reaches back to a different time. As a text-based adventure, it offers a different kind of experience than today's AAA titles or indie darlings.

The Cabrera Brothers, also known as Javier and Carlos, created a cyber-punk world with sci-fi fans in mind. Cypher is the story of Dogeron "Dog" Kenan, a thug-turned-smuggler with a price on his head. After a deal goes bad, Dog is on the run from hitmen seeking a passcode stored in his mind. Players navigate the world of NeoSushi City by entering in simple sentence commands. For the Cabrera Brothers, a game with full graphics simply wouldn't have done their project justice.

"There is no other genre in video games that can immerse a player's mind into a story like with text adventures," said Javier Cabrera.

"Everything happens in real time with the best graphics your imagination has to offer. It doesn't get more real than that."

To Javier, text-based games offer more than just a thrilling tale. If done right, they can leave lasting impressions on their players. "You can appeal to a wide range of emotions while writing a text adventure, and these experiences stick with you for the rest of your life since they happened all in your head," Javier said.

Pollution, crime, brutality and despair. it was the perfect setting for a game.

Cypher draws inspiration from a number of different sources, but it all ties back to a familiar era. 1980: Javier's magic number. The brothers grew up fascinated with the comics, movies, and games of their youth that were so Cyberpunk-centric. Pollution, crime, brutality, and despair. It was the perfect setting for a game.

Carlos Cabrera took inspiration from famous titles such as Blade Runner and Total Recall when crafting the game's artwork. Anime was also a huge influence on the game, as titles such as Akira and Ghost in the Shell left their imprint on NeoShushi City. Even threads of Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima's work were also part of the inspirational weave. The game's protagonist, Dog, has a very Snake-like smoking habit.

Dog might be the game's star, but he's no hero. His interests are self-motivated and often ruthless. His only goal is to ditch the passcode in his head and escape the Retrievers, no matter what the cost.

"If in order to get out he has to break your knees, you better start thinking on getting a cane...when he's done, he won't say something deep about mankind and see if you learned your lesson," said Javier. "He'll probably head over to TecNoir to have a beer and watch beautiful four-breasted women dance on platforms while you crawl in a dark alley seeking help."

Cypher's anti-hero has a lot to do with the game's narration direction. The brothers tired of the stereotypical "save the world" scenario and wanted to venture into darker areas. They wanted to be the criminal—"the one who actually has fun in stories," as Javier put it.

"We already have a lot of responsibilities in our daily life to deal with in the first place," said Javier. "Work. Family. Taxes. Why is it that when we want to relax, writers always send us on a quest to save [all of] humanity? Who relaxes that way?"

"We're aiming for those renegades that still have a VHS in their attic."

Finding a way to relax and totally immerse yourself into the game is what the Cabrera brothers hope Cypher's fans will achieve. It's a game they want players to load up on a Saturday night with a few friends, or enjoy alone with a bucket of popcorn. It's not about mind-blowing visuals, but taking a journey into a different time.

"Games these days are only concerned with delivering amazing 3D graphics," said Carlos. "They forget the content, the content that made old school text-based adventures so immersive."

"Some people enjoy buying a new computer every Christmas to play the latest first-person shooter, Game-of-the-Year-Whatever edition, and that's fine, but we're aiming for those renegades that still have a VHS in their attic."

More from Polygon

Hearthstone: Naxxramas Overview

  • Oddworld: New 'N' Tasty - Overview video

  • Destiny's beta comparison video: PS4 versus Xbox One

  • The Crew closed beta - Overview video

  • Polygon goes to Poland

Latest Discussions

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.