Cyberpunk 2077 playlist: Synth moods & tunes to tide you over until launch
© CD Projekt RED
A Cyberpunk world needs one key thing: 80s synth. And it needs it to the nines. Here's our expert list of 80s styled synth tracks to get you excited for CDPR's next epic RPG!
Even in trailer form one of the most impressive reveals that came out of gaming expo, E3, this year was developer CD Projekt RED’s Cyberpunk 2077. The studio that created perhaps the finest role-playing game this decade with The Witcher 3 -- setting its sights on a retro future -- was a thing to behold. With a story that takes place in the fictional Night City, Cyberpunk 2077 embraces the 1980s cyberpunk-aesthetic – where advanced technology, mega corporations, and crime coalesce into a film noir-inspired world of neon-soaked intrigue.
The images, setting, and art-direction found in Cyberpunk 2077 sell a mood that is both familiar and new. And with that in mind we present our Cyberpunk 2077 synth playlist. This should be just enough to see you through the waiting period for… well, we don’t know when. But hey, based on what we’ve seen, it’ll be worth it and, seriously, who can pass up truly amazing 80s-inspired synth?
Kavinsky – Deadcruiser
Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City is so chock full of detail that the scope of Deadcruiser is perfectly suited to the many glimpses we see in the debut trailer...
French artist Kavinsky released his debut album OutRun in 2013. Its retro-grooves and synth-heavy production wears its 1980s videogames, TV shows, and action-movie influences on its sleeves. Deadcruiser, taken from the album, very much sounds and plays out like a title-theme full of vibrant synths and immediate grooves. Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City is so chock full of detail that the scope of Deadcruiser is perfectly suited to the many glimpses we see in the debut trailer. Namely, the 1980s-inspired vehicle being driven by the main protagonist.
S U R V I V E – Hourglass
When members of Austin, Texas-based synth-group S U R V I V E were tapped to provide the score to Netflix’s retro-themed series Stranger Things – in many ways it brought attention to a style of music that was classically analogue in its use of synths. For the past decade S U R V I V E has been releasing cinematic synth workouts that immediately sell a particular mood. Hourglass, which comes from one of the group’s earlier albums presents a menacing and tension-filled groove that would work exceptionally well as the backing track to a tense escape or infiltration in Cyberpunk 2077.
Hyper – Spoiler
The frantic drumming and distortion leans into the studio’s vision of not only staying true to Cyberpunk’s roots but also attempting to present something that hasn’t been heard before...
Spoiler by artist Hyper was the track chosen by Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt RED to showcase the first look at the game and its world. And it’s not hard to see why, as it features not only several synth-heavy grooves, but the frantic drumming and distortion leans into the studio’s vision of not only staying true to Cyberpunk’s roots but also attempting to present something that hasn’t been heard before. Spoiler may sound quintessentially electronic, but its raw and dirty feel works well no matter the decade or influence.
Power Glove – Punker
The synthwave and electronic music conjured images of a dystopian future as envisioned during a time when VHS tapes were the way that people watched movies...
Melbourne-based electronic duo Power Glove, named after the Nintendo peripheral from the 1980s, caught the attention of videogame fans thanks to their excellent work on the Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon soundtrack. Where the synthwave and electronic music conjured images of a dystopian future as envisioned during a time when VHS tapes were the way that people watched movies. There’s a cinematic quality to Power Glove that is undeniable, and Punker – taken from one the duo’s EPs -- offers a distinctly menacing retro-futurist dive into a dangerous back alley.
Mitch Murder – Revision Control
Deep emotional synth breakdowns and an unrelenting sense of tension once the beat and groove kicks in...
One of the cornerstones of the Cyberpunk 2077 aesthetic is the connection to film noir, and the sort of stylish crime drama that came out of Hollywood during the black-and-white era. Electronic artist Mitch Murder has a knack of capturing the feel of the genre via the exceptional use of synths and slow methodical breakdowns that capture a mood. Revision Control presents a best of both worlds from the artist, deep emotional synth breakdowns and an unrelenting sense of tension once the beat and groove kicks in.
Com Truise – When Will You Find the Limit…
CD Projekt RED’s previous RPG epic, The Witcher 3, was lauded by fans and critics alike for the often-brilliant quests and stories that were found throughout its world. Covering a wide range of characters, arcs and themes, we should expect Cyberpunk 2077 to be no different. Synthwave or electronic music that aims for similar heights is perfect for capturing a mood or invoking an emotional response in the listener. When Will You Find the Limit from Com Truise expertly layers simple chords over varying atmospheres in a way that would suit a particular story beat where the outcome is uplifting or carries a sense of hope.
Carpenter Brut – Paradise Warfare
In the context of Cyberpunk 2077 there’s a feeling of arrival in Paradise Warfare, reaching a new visually incredible setting set high above the streets...
Intense would probably be the best way to describe the music from Carpenter Brut, and Paradise Warfare leverages its glorious retro production with frantic and manic energy. And by retro we also mean the inclusion of a sun-drenched saxophone that is probably being played by that shirtless singer from The Lost Boys. In the context of Cyberpunk 2077 there’s a feeling of arrival in Paradise Warfare, reaching a new visually incredible setting set high above the streets. When the tempo and frantic energy kicks in though - you’ve got perfect chase music.
Lusine – The Lift
When describing the sound and music that was being created for Cyberpunk 2077, developer CD Projekt RED noted that in addition to being heavily synthesised that it was aiming to imbue the experience with sounds that players hadn’t heard before. The use of analog synths in electronic music often leads to an association with a particular decade, but the best uses feel as much ‘of the now’ as they do ‘of a time’. Electronic artist Lusine is a student of using intricate arpeggios and synth layers in a way that sounds unlike anything else out there. As a testament to both the brilliance of The Lift and the overall Cyberpunk 2077 aesthetic, it would feel right at home in a corner of Night City.
Lazerhawk – Oneiric
When thinking about the The Witcher 3, there are numerous quests, characters, and moments that still resonate today. From the infamous Bloody Baron questline to the realistic and powerful relationship between protagonist Geralt and Yenn. Cyberpunk 2077 is bound to feature many memorable characters and relationships, and as an ode to what that might be Lazerhawk’s powerful Oneiric sets the tone for some Grade A futuristic feels. Although steeped in classic synth sounds, Oneiric has a timeless quality that is fresh, familiar and drenched in emotion.
Anoraak – Skyline
Although Cyberpunk 2077 probably won't feature a soundtrack full of traditional synthwave music, the genre itself is one you can’t help but imagine when looking at both the world and the art style of CD Projekt RED’s upcoming RPG. And there’s one aspect of the genre that will no doubt find its way somewhere into the project – and that is the feeling of celebration and joy. Anoraak’s Skyline is the perfect candidate for this idea, as its driving baseline and dreamy synths are quintessential 1980s by way of a future we can’t wait to visit.
Editor's Note: It should be pointed out that this piece was written and researched by illustrious synthesiser extraordinaire, Kbit, who as Kosta Andreadis regularly contributes to Red Bull Games. Finally, his two loves met, resulting in this incredible compendium.