Amongst Cyberpunk’s world of robotic implants, futuristic gangs, and terrorist rockstars, there are a multitude of side-quests that tell their own stories in Night City. One of them in particular really stands out.
This article contains spoilers for the Cyberpunk 2077 quest ‘Sinnerman’ and its following quests.
Early in the game while I was taking in the views of Night City, a Bladerunner-style metropolis with towering skyscrapers and holographic advertisements appearing in the sky, one of these adverts stood out from the others. While most of the displays are for food products or of a pornographic nature, this one featured a man with a crown of thorns around his head, with the words ‘The Passion’ underneath.
In 2019 Cyberpunk’s developer, CD Projekt Red, clarified the game would include religious elements in a way that would not aim to offend any member of a given religion. Night City has churches, as well as characters and gangs that follow God, and I wondered if the advertisement for ‘The Passion’ was just another small, environmental addition. I wasn’t prepared for the experience that unfolded from it.
Starting with the ‘Sinnerman’ quest, the main character, V, meets a Christian man named Joshua Stephenson who has been sentenced to death. Stephenson was jailed for murdering several people, but was converted to Christianity while imprisoned. Driven by guilt, Joshua sets out to show Night City the love that he believes God has shown him, submitting to his death penalty by crucifixion.
Cyberpunk 2077 makes use of a ‘Brain Dance’ feature throughout the game—a fictional technology that allows someone to relive the memories of another person in a virtual reality fashion. With Brain Dance experiences being the most popular form of entertainment in Cyberpunk’s world, Joshua Stephenson intends to star in ‘The Passion’ to reach the neglected people in Night City.
Reaching the people of Night City
With ‘The Passion’ being a Brain Dance recording of Joshua’s crucifixion,
Joshua sees his crucifixion as the best way to remind Night Citizens of God’s love. His desire to reach the people of Night City embodies Christ’s love toward outcasts of society in his day, as shown by this quote from the game.
“Think of the millions jacked into their feeds like livestock, the children growing up in gang-infested streets. Do they know love? Think of the joytoys (prostitutes) on Jig-Jig Street! Coked-out corpos in their offices, and murderers who stalk the streets! I want to reach them, I will reach them!”
The game gives the player plenty of opportunities to opt out of the quest as it unfolds, but if they follow through with it far enough the player can be the one who nails Joshua to his cross. This is a pretty brutal scene that follows Jesus’ crucifixion as depicted in the Gospel of Luke, notably Jesus’ exchange with the criminals being crucified alongside him. Quite relevant for the immoral dystopia of Night City.
This scene made me realise just how barbaric it actually is to crucify someone, which I don’t think I would have reflected on otherwise. I’ll bet there are plenty of other people playing this game who are in the same boat. It also gave me some idea of what it would’ve been like to nail Jesus to a cross, something every Christian has done metaphorically.
Just as the fictional character of Joshua Stephenson wanted residents of Night City to experience the pain that Christ endured on the cross, this questline had me feeling exactly how I think the character being crucified intended.
If you’re game, you can watch a video of the full questline on YouTube.
Jackson Reid is a journalism student currently studying at University of Wollongong in Australia. He has been working casually at Pulse 94.1, a Christian radio station, for the last 5 years. He is particularly passionate about youth and kids ministry at church.