Cyberpunk 2077 draws criticism for seizure-inducing sequence with no warning or mitigation

One of the biggest games of the year, “Cyberpunk 2077,” is about to be released, but developer CD Projekt Red is already under fire for an early game sequence with the potential to induce seizures. Players with epilepsy should be warned that there is currently no way to skip this, and the visual feature will be repeated throughout the game.

Strobing lights can induce seizures in some people prone to them, but that hasn’t stopped many high-profile games from including them for effect. Usually there is a boilerplate warning on boot saying this is a possibility, but in most games it’s more of a warning that there may potentially be flashing lights of this type, for example if several flashbang grenades went off one after the other. Many games also offer an option to reduce the intensity of flashing lights or otherwise change their appearance, along with other options for accessibility.

“Cyberpunk” seems to tread especially dangerous territory fundamentally, as its game world is full of the kind of seedy, flickering-neon lighting one associates with a grimy, futuristic dystopia. But within the first few hours of the game there is a much more severe and thoughtlessly designed event that has already caused a reviewer at Game Informer to experience a seizure. It involves the (otherwise quite interesting) “braindances,” or BDs, which let your character relive experiences recorded by others, by donning a special headset… that boots up with intense flashing lights:

When “suiting up” for a BD, especially with Judy, V will be given a headset that is meant to onset the instance. The headset fits over both eyes and features a rapid onslaught of white and red blinking LEDs, much like the actual device neurologists use in real life to trigger a seizure when they need to trigger one for diagnosis purposes. If not modeled off of the IRL design, it’s a very spot-on coincidence, and because of that this is one aspect that I would personally advise you to avoid altogether. When you notice the headset come into play, look away completely or close your eyes. This is a pattern of lights designed to trigger an epileptic episode and it very much did that in my own personal playthrough.

You can see the event referred to in the screenshot above (taken afterwards, but you can see the device). I recall this moment quite clearly from my own playthrough, and remember thinking it was rather an intense lightshow indeed. Unfortunately for this person, it caused a serious episode and could do so for many others upon its release on the 10th.

Among the many options for changing the appearance of “Cyberpunk 2077,” there isn’t one for reducing flashing lights that I could find. I’ve asked CD Projekt Red about this and hopefully they can ship something to mitigate the issue at or near launch. The company did say on Twitter that it was looking into a solution.