Shortly after Cyberpunk 2077 was announced in 2012, CD Projekt revealed that Braindance would be included in the game. No details of how the Braindance would function in the game were revealed until episode 1 of Night City Wire on 25 June 2020.
What is Braindance?
Braindance allows an individual to relive the experiences of another individual including sight, touch, smell, and audio via a special device. The concept was originally developed for therapy and prisoner rehabilitation but by 2077 it was being used for entertainment. Games, adult experience, and what are called Black Braindances (XBDs) which can include death. These extreme death experiences are called Flatliner Braindances. Some inhabitants use these to experience the thrill of death but they are also used for investigation purposes.
Braindance is a major form of entertainment in the world of Cyberpunk 2077. However, more extreme experiences also come with the danger of addiction as users seek their next adrenaline hit. Braindance addiction is a problem in Night City.
Recording and Viewing
There are two sides to the Braindance, the recording, and the viewing. Anyone who has a Braindance implant installed will have their actions recorded. Some Braindances are scripted like movies while others are real-life recorded experiences.
Once recorded onto the implant, the experience can be viewed back with what is called the BD Player.
Where to view Braindances
In Night City there are arcades where the population can go to experience a Braindance. Other areas include bars, and for the wealthy, a home setup. Unfortunately, players cannot sample these delights. The only braindances in the game are tied to the story missions.
In Cyberpunk 2077, XBD experiences are going to be used for investigative purposes and also help drive the game’s story. Players will be able to put on a device and watch as a scene unfolds. There is complete control over how an experience is viewed. Players can move around the scene in third-person view.
Controls are available to rewind, fast-forward, pause, and move around the scene. With this level of control, the scene can be fully investigated thoroughly. Listening to audio from within the scene, looking for clues in the environment that may shed more light on the situation, and checking for heat signatures. These are all methods used to help understand a scene.
When using the braindance in specific missions, players switch between visual, audio, and temperature modes. To indicate there is something of significance on any of these layers, look for markers on the playback bar at the top. These indicate that you need to be looking around in whichever mode is highlighted to find the clue.
Why is Braindance in the game?
CD Projekt thought hard about how they could include a Braindance mechanic to the game. They eventually settled on using it as a storytelling tool instead of it being a novelty experience players may encounter briefly in Night City. A braindance gives players an insight into the lives of people living in Night City further immersing the player into the game world.
There are only a few in the game to help drive the narrative. In the game, braindances cannot be purchased for viewing pleasure, you are limited to the ones included in the story which are triggered by certain quests.
Judy Alvarez is Night City’s premier BD technician, heavily respected for her skills, innovation, and creativity. Motivated to change things for the better she teamed with The Mox and currently works for them as a BD technician and editor.
Judy will supply V with a portable Braindance unit which is used throughout the game as V investigates the story-driven Braindances to given to him/her by NPCs.
Can I skip a Braindance?
If you are on a second playthrough you’re unlikely to want to sit through it all again. Unfortunately, the Braindance training mission cannot be skipped, you will have to play through that again. Likewise, for others that are tied to the story, you can use the C key to skip through dialogue quickly but not skip the whole sequence.
Watch a Braindance
The video below shows you how the system works. In future Braindances, there is little commentary apart from a few quips from NPCs you are interacting with outside of the Braindance itself.