V doesn’t have a point of view. (Or hair, any time I try looking in the mirror while wearing a baseball cap, which glitches it out of existence—but that’s neither here nor there.) Instead, Cyberpunk 2077 pawns that duty off on a far more bankable star: digital ghost Johnny Silverhand, played with undeniable charisma by bona fide, no fooling, actual movie star Keanu Reeves. After the high-tech heist that serves as the focus of the game’s first act inevitably goes pear-shaped (this is a cyberpunk story, after all), Johnny’s mind ends up getting shoved directly into V’s head, beginning a push-and-pull between the two of them that is A) the single most interesting thing to happen in Cyberpunk 2077 in my 20 or so buggy, crash-riddled hours with it, and B) cribbed pretty aggressively from the “Joker is your imaginary friend now ” bits of 2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight. And it’s interesting not just because, hey: Free Brain Keanu. No, it works because Johnny is an actual character. He has consistent opinions, he has goals he’s trying to achieve, and the things he does always make sense as a part of the whole. Sure, he’s an asshole about most of this stuff, and he needs you to do all the legwork, but at least he’s an asshole with an ethos.

Even once V and Johnny establish an uneasy truce with each other, trading invisible banter and buddy cop-ing things up, Cyberpunk continually posits Silverhand’s unstoppable overwrite of V’s mind as a terrible thing. But why? Seriously, what’s actually being lost: Some random wisecracks? My skill choices in the game’s (admittedly robust and fascinating) character development system? My terrible taste in armored basketball shorts? Like I said back up at the top, by the time it tries to make you care about V’s continued existence, Cyberpunk has already fundamentally bifurcated its main character duties; intentional or not, V is merely the platform that allows Johnny to progress the most interesting aspects of its story. Johnny is the one with the connection to the characters who matter. Johnny is the one whose resources you’re tapping to get things done. Johnny is the one who cares about what’s happening beyond the basest impetus of survival. Johnny is the main character. V is just meat.

If this was all intentional, it’d be tremendous, and tremendously subversive. If a game that’s all about the decay of the human spirit—which infuses Night City, from its pervasive stank of Grand Theft Auto-level cultural satire, to its omnipresent advertising, to the inescapable reminders of how many hours of real-life programmer and artist lifespans were sacrificed to make the whole thing sort of work—spent its time talking the player into giving themselves up so that a more glamorous digital avatar might live, that would be a stunning execution of the game’s core themes. But Cyberpunk feels a lot more like it thinks it’s on humanity’s side, even as the void that is its central “protagonist” threatens to drag the whole thing down into the abyss. Guns and genitals don’t help us identify with characters: Choices do. And Cyberpunk’s V consistently chooses to be inert.