Mobile games that thrive off of the hype of other games are nothing new. When PUBG and later PUBG Mobile launched we saw Rules of Survival, Knives Out, Garena Free Fire, Fortcraft, and many more pop up quickly to try and ride the wave of popularity.
Heck, even an established brand like Call of Duty couldn't resist getting in on the battle royale hype train with Call of Duty Mobile. So it's not a surprise to see Code T, or Theseus, or Code: Theseus (the title of the game appears to be tentative, so we'll just go with Theseus from now on), the new cyberpunk Netease game look fairly familiar to something we've seen before.
This feels a bit like déjà vu, as it was only this week that Ubisoft sued Apple and Google over the Rainbow Six: Siege "clone," Area F2, which was taken down fairly swiftly. It's clear that some publishers are not going to take clones of their games lying down, and Theseus certainly seems like a prime candidate for the next big lawsuit…
Is this a Cyberpunk 2077 clone?
No, this is not a Cyberpunk 2077 clone. That was an easy question to answer. In Theseus you'll play as a bounty hunter that'll be hunting down all manner of criminals while under the watchful eye of a corrupt, capitalist government. Admittedly that all sounds similar to Cyberpunk 2077, but that's only because cyberpunk fiction all generally takes this road.
We haven't seen much of Theseus yet, aside from a pre-rendered trailer, but thus far it's hard to argue that it's not similar to the E3 2018 trailer for Cyberpunk 2077. The aesthetic is obviously similar, no doubt about it, but what you might not immediately notice is the atmospheric music, and some of the shots which seem to directly mirror, or at least are "inspired by" shots from the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer.
Just for clarity, here's the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer.
And here's the trailer for Netease's Theseus…
I think we can all agree that one inspired the other, right? And in case you didn't catch some of those obvious "homages," here's a couple which has been spotted on twitter:
So, it remains to be seen if the game itself resembles Cyberpunk 2077 in any way, especially since the general public hasn't had a chance to go hands-on with either of them, but as of right now, the marketing of Theseus is quite clearly attempting to ride on the coattails of Cyberpunk 2077, at least a little.
I guess the game itself is unique enough, it's not like cyberpunk theme games are new, but it's obviously trying to capture the hype around Cyberpunk 2077 and emulating the original Cyberpunk 2077 feel with its CG trailer in the first tweet. Here are comparison shots vs CP2077 pic.twitter.com/8wSN4FAprX — Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) May 20, 2020
Are we boycotting Theseus then?
No, we're not boycotting Theseus, and I'm not inclined to believe that CD Projekt RED should sue Netease, either. As I said when discussing the Ubisoft and Area F2 situation, neither company owns the concept of cyberpunk, and while the Theseus trailer is starkly similar to the trailer for Cyberpunk 2077, you could probably draw similar conclusions from any other cyberpunk media.
Ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding. Ubisoft's legal team got through to Google and Apple after proving that Area F2 wasn't just similar to Rainbow Six: Siege, but modelled its entire gameplay and aesthetic on it. If Theseus can separate itself enough from Cyberpunk 2077 when they both launch, there won't be a problem.
But again, it is highly suspect that Netease would so blatantly attempt to ride Cyberpunk 2077's hype train like this, but it also makes sense from a marketing perspective. Whether or not that's immoral, unethical, or illegal, is another question entirely.
Whatever happens, I'm looking forward to playing both Theseus and Cyberpunk 2077, and hopefully that'll be sooner rather than later, because I need something to keep me busy during quarantine season…