I hate to break it to you, but except for virtual reality, commercially-available cybernetics, and flying cars, we live in a cyberpunk story. The "devolution" of the genre is perhaps the greatest meta-critique of all.
Sure, but people also lived in a cyberpunk story back in the 1980s. In fact, that's kind of the defining feature of the genre. The social problems people face in the future are current social problems (maybe taken to an extreme or made more so by advanced technology enabling people to be more invasive in their cruelty and greed).
As for virtual reality. We live in a world where people honestly believe Youtube stars are their friends, that they're having romantic relationships with pop stars and that people in real life are ugly because they don't look like cartoons or porn stars with professional makeup, cosmetic surgery and stage lightning. We live in a world where combat veterans process their real-life trauma experiences by imagining that they were playing video games. Virtual reality began with the invention of mass media, and the point at which the virtual and real worlds become indistinct has already been crossed long ago.
You seemed to have missed the crux of my problem. My problem isn't that it has a dark world. My problem is that it seems to be setting up that it's a dark world at the expense of giving me characters to give a shit about. Shadowrun Dragonfall and Hong Kong were set in dark worlds, but they still gave me characters I cared about. Therefore I had investment at seeing these people overcome the problems they face in this dark world.
I feel you, but maybe it's just my opinion but I always found that distracting. I always like to feel that characters are a product of their environment, and if they are going to grow beyond that it should be a story I get to see and participate in.
To me, one of the most important character moments in that trailer (which if anything was almost too barefaced) was the final conversation with the corpo agent, in which she pretty straightforwardly explains how the world works and how to succeed in it, to which your character can either agree of disagree. The thing is, that choice almost certainly exists just for flavour. Your character cannot really disagree with the premise of this world because they have to live in it. The problems cannot be solved, because they're so much bigger than you
. Your only choice is to play along, or rebel impotently.
This is the big thing the witcher did really well as well, even if I personally didn't enjoy it. It gave a sense of being a small person in a big world, which kind of justified people being jaded and burned out and cynical, because what else are you going to do?
As it stands, the MC and her sidekick are just generic video game main characters with nothing that makes them stand out, and therefore I wonder why I should care that the suit they were working with screwed them over.
And again, I'd agree, there's a believable in-universe argument which is explicitly text
and which says that you shouldn't. After all, it's just business. To me, that is worldbuilding, and while most of the time that kind of "edge" may not be justified, here I think it is because it clearly has sufficient weight and payoff.
Was it you who posted a whole thread some time ago on the Escapist about the "punk" part of cyber/steam/dieselpunk etc? There was a whole discussion about the punk part of the settings that was an interesting discussion. Can't find the thread now, but your post here sounds eerily familiar
I don't tend to post threads very often, so it probably wasn't me. But I might have commented as I do have some strong feelings on those genres.
I don't dislike steampunk. I really like the Fallen London setting and Alexis Kennedy's work in general, for example. I'm also a huge fan of Mervyn Peake, who basically invented the whole idea of putting anachronistic science and technology in fantasy settings. But I don't see the "punk" in Steampunk except as a kind of shallow, aesthetic reference to cyberpunk. To me, a better word for the genre would be "victorian fantasy" or "gothic fantasy" depending on whether it draws more on gothic literary traditions, or just uses a victorian aesthetic as a platform for fantasy-style adventures.