Unused voice lines are frequently found in the code of games that make it out onto store shelves, and can often raise questions about content that might have been cut or altered during the development process. This is especially prevalent in RPGs like Cyberpunk 2077, which has recently come under some scrutiny after it was discovered voice lines exist for a romantic relationship between a masculine-voiced player character and Judy, who is canonically a lesbian in the final game.
Modders found the voice lines, and even made the romantic scenes work between a masculine-voiced V and Judy, and once it started circulating on places like the Cyberpunk 2077 subreddit, there were accusations that this was “cut content” denied to players. However, a CD Projekt Red representative explained to Eurogamer that the reason these voice lines exist was because the actors who played both the masculine and feminine voices for V recorded all the lines for the character, regardless of whether or not they would be implemented in the game.
“It was simply more convenient and easier for our localisation team from a production point of view to record all lines with both voices, so we could avoid missing something by mistake that would require future recordings,” the CD Projekt Red rep told Eurogamer. “This was done with pretty much everything just to be on the safe side although it can vary between the different languages. Judy was always only a female V romance partner and that was the artistic vision from the start, there was no male romance option cut from the game.”
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Cyberpunk 2077 is an uncharacteristically restrictive game when it comes to romance, so it makes sense that some would be frustrated with a lack of options, but the solution isn’t to turn gay and lesbian characters into something they’re not, it’s to just have a wider breadth of options across the board with more characters to exist within the sexuality spectrum. So it does suck that these voice lines are still in the game’s files and can be used in this way.
Mods for romantic storylines in RPGs are extremely common, especially when characters’ love stories are gated by gender or race. Mods for Mass Effect squadmates Kaidan Alenko and Ashley Williams were prevalent as the original trilogy was ongoing, as voice lines for those romances were present for same-sex relationships much like Judy’s are for Cyberpunk 2077. However, developer Bioware did clarify that the voice capture process was similar, meaning both actors playing male and female Commander Shepard recorded every line for simplicity’s sake. As Bioware went into romances with more definitive goals in mind in future games, voice actors of different genders either stopped recording lines for characters they wouldn’t be able to enter a relationship with, or the studio stopped including these lines in the game files. Hasn’t stopped people from modding them, though. Which gets especially uncomfortable as characters like Dorian Pavus in Dragon Age: Inquisition, whose storyline is about his identity as a gay man, were subjected to mods that allowed him to be pursued by female characters.