Content Warning: Suicide
Back in 2018, I lost one of my closest friends, Tom. Not even thirty, he took his own life, and the repercussions have shaken our friendship group ever since.
In the days prior, he and I had argued about the silliest of things, and when he took that last step, we weren't in the best of places. With his birthday being this week, and my partner and child being away, I jumped onto Cyberpunk 2077 for a chance to escape - and found my grief and guilt staring me in the face.
Cyberpunk 2077 Taught Me A Hard Lesson About Grief
One side mission in Cyberpunk 2077 revolves around Barry, an ex-Police officer in Night City that resides on the floor below V.
He's seen some s**t, but following the death of his best friend from old age, he's just about ready to snap. Despite one fellow officer's concerns, he's not ready to talk to anyone about how his world is falling apart, and another officer simply doesn't get mental illness.
As an optional side mission, V can speak to both of Barry's colleagues and then approach Barry himself. After some small talk, Barry opens up about his struggles.
If V leaves things there, re-attending shows Barry's colleagues mourning his suicide, his front door smeared with blood.
With Barry living just a few steps from V's apartment, it's a door I knew I'd see often, and acts as a haunting reminder of my loss a few years ago.
Few games have triggered an emotional reaction as emphatic as this, for me. Barry, a tertiary character in an open-world RPG full of NPCs may as well have been Tom. I hovered over the option to reload my save.
He didn't talk about his emotions, he bottled everything up. I may not have been the officer that didn't want to understand, but I may as well have been the officer that couldn't find a breakthrough before it was too late.
So, what did I learn? In many ways, I learned a lot about myself and my interactions with people three years ago, but Cyberpunk taught me that while there will always be blood on Barry's front door, there's no checkpoint to fall back to in reality.
There's no second chance, no posthumous olive branch, as much as I'd give anything for that chance. Making my peace with Barry's front door doesn't mean it'll just go away, just like I'll never forget Tom, but I also need to stop beating myself over the head with my guilt.