Johnny Silverhand is an enigmatic character in Cyberpunk 2077, one who will be fully explored by the John Wick actor Keanu Reeves. When this detail was revealed at E3 2019, the audience went wild, which also led to the famous "You're Breathtaking!" moment. That was so popular, in fact, there was a petition created to add a "You're Breathtaking" achievement to Cyberpunk 2077. Yet, when all is said and done, there's one question that hasn't really been addressed: can players trust Keanu Reeves' Johnny Silverhand?
Johnny Silverhand is clearly an important character in Cyberpunk 2077 for several reasons. Not only does he have the second most dialogue in the whole game, but he's clearly somehow living in the mind of the game's protagonist, V. The very fact that Keanu Reeves was hired to play him speak volumes as well, but before players can decide whether or not to trust Johnny Silverhand, they must first know who he is.
Who is Johnny Silverhand?
Lore-wise, it's unclear what is and isn't confirmed to be canon in Cyberpunk 2077. According to Cyberpunk lore, he's a rockerboy who played in a band known as Samurai and bears a deep hatred for the Arasaka Corporation, leading to the strike that seemingly ends Silverhand's life. This would mean that Johnny Silverhand, physically anyway, died in 2024, as he was reportedly shot and left lifeless prior to a nuke being dropped on the HQ.
Other lore contradicts this time of death, as others have indicated that 2076 was Silverhand's "last ride," likely meaning he's just been dead for a year, not 50+. This also ties in with the E3 2018 trailer that asked, "Where's Johnny?", and his overall addition was hinted at by Johnny's Song, Chippin In. This manifested in his E3 2019 reveal, which confirmed Keanu Reeves in the role, with even more details coming to light soon after.
Silverhand is reportedly V's guide to the city as a hologram or a "digital ghost." It seems certain that, whatever the circumstance, Johnny Silverhand is physically dead in Cyberpunk 2077, but that doesn't fully explain what happened. It seems his personality and identity may have been uploaded to the Net, which could be a real threat, but it's also unclear how he is in V's head specifically. It seems that Johnny Silverhand will be with V for most of the game.
Discovering how and why Silverhand is in V's mind plays a key role to the story, which many think they have also decoded. Various trailers have hinted that V is looking for a special chip, and certain details have hinted at this being an Immortality Chip. Such a thing seems important to Johnny Silverhand, as he will reportedly offer comments on V's approach and decisions throughout Cyberpunk 2077. However, does that mean he can be trusted?
Can You Trust Johnny Silverhand?
From the get-go, Silverhand is painted as a sympathetic, bad boy hero, as his initial reveal was offering assistance to V when he was left for dead. This may prove to be some misdirection on part of Cyberpunk 2077's developer CD Projekt Red, as they recently provided more details about Silverhand in the 15-minute deep dive gameplay.
Outside the look at the Cyberpunk 2077's lifepaths and classes, one dev also commented on Silverhand's role in the game. He states that Silverhand has an "agenda" and players can decide whether he is "an ally or not." This immediately implies that V and Silverhand will butt heads and likely not always agree, depending on player input, of course. With Silverhand's reputation as an extreme activist (he did lead an assault), it seems possible that he will come into conflict with those who prefer a non-lethal playthrough.
Of course, that doesn't mean those who more active can trust him either, as whatever Silverhand's agenda is may be disastrous for V after all. Silverhand is dead, physically, and it seems that the immortality chip will play a huge role in his restoration — of some form. Choices V has between the Immortality chip and others will likely lead to the aforementioned conflict.
Ultimately, it would be cool if Johnny Silverhand was a simple guide to the cyberpunk Night City, in a vein similar to how Virgil was a guide in the Nine Circles of Hell in Dante's Inferno, but it seems Silverhand will be more complex and perhaps more akin to Reznov from Black Ops. He may just be in the player's head for now, but that doesn't mean it won't hurt somehow in the long run. That said, it seems likely that those who do follow and fit in with Silverhand's agenda may find themselves a valuable ally in the Rockerboy character as well.
Cyberpunk 2077 will be released on April 16, 2020, on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with a Stadia version also in development.