A mega-corporation making a game about mega-corporations?

Code: SYN – Tencent's entry in the cyberpunk genre

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A screen from Code: SYN by Tencent

Hello, nameless lady (Image credit: Tencent)

Chinese colossus Tencent has announced it is entering the Uncanny Valley in more ways than one with the reveal of its new title Code: SYN, a “globally marketed, PC and console open-world FPS game.”

Not so long after the brief appearance in our Industry Intel series where we told you how Tencent is shaping a brand new AAA studio, the Chinese tech giant has shown a real-time in-engine presentation of a brand new game titled Code: SYN.

The reveal

The footage was shared during the company’s recent annual conference and looks a little something like this:

(Video credit: MMOJACKX57)

The initial teaser doesn’t show much apart from a nice futuristic cyberpunk city, two ladies and their cybernetically-enhanced animal companions, tons of customizable options, and a heavy Asian-inspired aesthetic.

No gameplay of any sort is shown, so we’ll have to imagine a first-person open-world-style of adventure in a futuristic dystopian world... Wait a second, this sounds a lot like Cyberpunk 2077, arguably the most anticipated game of the decade!

Of course, this is hardly a coincidence – Tencent is keeping an eye on the global gaming market (and how could they not, as they own half of it by now!), know what’s in, and what excites people. Can they deliver a compelling game that will truly rival CDPR’s long-awaited masterpiece? That is another question entirely.

From what we could see, the Chinese devs are going for a very Asian art style, which is right at home at any cyberpunk setting ever since the original Blade Runner movie was made in the early 80’s or anime classic Ghost in the Shell helped solidify the genre’s aesthetic. In comparison, Cyberpunk 2077 is offering players a futuristic American city.

The reaction

Are cyberpunk fans hyped? Well, not really – the initial reception by the gaming community leans heavily on the underwhelming side.

For one, many people are having reservations about Tencent, a data-driven company not so well known for its heart or artistry – a feel that’s reinforced by the trailer’s corporate tone of voice and buzz words like “globally marketed” and “state-of-the-art”.

Another thing is the odd doll-like appearance of the girls in the trailer, making them look really unnatural and cartoony in an unpleasant way. The Uncanny Valley is a topic often explored in cyberpunk works, but Tencent seems to have the wrong approach with it here. A lot of “yikes!” were shared when the soulless glassy eyes of the woman in the final screen of the trailer pierced the viewers.

Lastly, some people have found it ironic and even hypocritical for Tencent to be making a cyberpunk game. After all, a central theme and a core conflict in the genre has always been the author’s social commentary on the oppressive nature of super-corporations and the dangers of transhumanism, and here it is, one of the world’s biggest mega-corps entering the same space.

One thing is certain – this game will be an intriguing experiment for both Tencent and gamers, and we are really curious to see how things will unfold.

For more dystopian future, gaming, and news, stay tuned to EarlyGame.com!

Nikola Petrov

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