Cyberpunk Noir – Black and white photography in Night City

Posted 9 January, 2021

Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that if I’m being honest, released as a bug-ridden fusion of mechanics we’ve seen a hundred times before, after almost eight year of development.

Suffice it to say opinion on the game has been split. However, as far as this particular gamer is concerned – it’s great. Not just ‘good for what it is’, but genuinely great.

I wanted the original Deus Ex gameplay loop across a Grand Theft Auto 5 scale environment. That’s what I got. I don’t know if I’d consider it a masterpiece in its current state, but it certainly contains moments that could be considered as such. Unfortunately, that’s not really the product CD Projekt Red promised its customers so as much as I enjoy the game, I totally empathise with those who feel massively short changed.

One thing I don’t think anyone can really complain about is the overall quality of the visuals. Both the art direction and technical execution of that direction are consistent, cohesive and of a high standard. They’re so good that I’ve found myself playing with a feature that I never have before, despite being fairly commonplace in modern games – photography mode.

That’s right, I’ve been taking photographs in a game, rather than playing the game or taking actual photographs. Anna‘s disappointment in me is almost palpable.

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Cyberpunk 2077 black and white screenshot

I thought goggles would make my character look cool. Anna says it’s terrible.

Monochrome gunfire, glass and blood

Cyberpunk 2077’s photography mode comes with a series of features. These allow you to adjust exposure, field of view and apeture, in addition to more stylistic effects like colour grade.

I came across the feature a few hours into the game and set myself the task of photographing key moments or scenery as they were encountered. Since I love me some film noir and wish the game had a black and white mode, those were the stylistic limitations I imposed.

I’m doing an awful lot of talking to introduce a bunch of screenshots taken from a videogame.

So I’ll shut up now.

Flying through the air on a motorbike with Night City in the background
Capturing a moment of loss in the Night City badlands
Burning rubber in the badlands outside of Night City
Closeup driving a motorbike
Driving motorbikes through the badlands surrounding Night City
Militech van wheel spinning through mud
Motorbike against the Night City backdrop
Driving the Militech van
Driving the Militech van closeup

Photographing videogames

I’ve found this an oddly satisfying little indulgence. It’s nice to just pause the game during a moment of action or suspense and seeing how effectively you can capture it. You don’t have an expansive suite of photography tools available, but there’s enough to put your own creative stamp on things.

Apparently Doom Eternal has a photo mode too.

That’s tomorrow’s lunch break sorted.