You must run fast, slide fast and kill quickly in this game. Although it can be difficult and require precise platforming and quick decision-making, it is rarely frustrating. There are instant respawns and generous checkpointing. And, most importantly, there are open-ended combat encounters that allow you to try different approaches. Lets take a look at what this new cyberninja sword-wielding badass brings to the game.
Ghostrunner is set in a cyberpunk-themed future. It tells the story about a cybernetically enhanced swordsman who wakes up from being thrown from a tower without any memory of what happened or who he is. He also has no idea why he felt compelled to plunge a sword into a poor soul below him. Ghostrunner is guided by The Architect, a disembodied voice that guides him through a power struggle between the supposed rulers and the dying resistance.
Although it's a predictable story, the story is well told and well acted. The best thing about this campaign is the speed at which the storytelling doesn't slow down. Ghostrunner is full of great dialogue, but all of it happens through conversations that take place in the head of the main character. This gives you the option to listen attentively or just continue on with the parkour-heavy platforming challenges that often accompany long expositions.
Intense Action and Platforming
Ghostrunner's main weapon is the sword. However, your speed and mobility options can be used as weapons. Ghostrunner is able to run along walls and slide down steep slopes at great speed. He can also use a quick dash to alter his momentum and slow down time. All of these abilities were combined to create a beautiful flow of movement which allowed me to almost effortlessly close the distance between myself and my more basic enemies, before satisfyingly cutting them in half.
These basic enemies won't be your only foes. Ghostrunner has many other challenges. One of the greatest things about the game, however, is how your enemies always rise to meet you growing skills and abilities. After I was comfortable with deflecting and dodging the bullets from single-shot pistol-wielding enemies I had to deal the machine gun wielding soldiers. They required me to move if I wanted to live long enough to allow me to hit them while they reload. After getting used to dealing with them, I had to learn to deal with shielded enemies which could only be hit from behind.
Ghostrunner does an incredible job of keeping the action exciting, not only by adding new enemy types but also by constantly changing the environment. Every level brings something new to the table. It could be an environmental mechanic such as grind rails, which change the way you navigate through the level, or a temporary powerup like a slowdown that allows you deal with enemies that are nearly impossible to kill without dying. Or a shield battery, which must be destroyed before you can deal with other enemies in an encounter. Ghostrunner is a fast-paced combat game that will keep you engaged.
Engaging Environments and Level Design
Ghostrunner has an interesting, but somewhat gimmicky upgrade system that allows for you to modify and enhance your abilities. As you progress, upgrades are earned in the form of tetris-like blocks which can be rotated and placed on a grid. You have limited space and the best upgrades require more grid space, so you will have to choose the upgrades that you wish to activate at any given time. Since I love being able to fire bullets at my enemies, the upgrades are quite good. However, I didn't find it as important to re-arrange puzzle pieces in order for me to find the "optimal" placement. This is especially because any unoccupied spaces on the grid will accelerate your regeneration of a resource called Focus.
You can use focus to power one of your special moves. Each of these four special moves serves as a limited, situation-dependent ace in hole. Blink can, for instance, cut through shielded enemies and maintain your momentum. Tempest can also be used to reflect projectiles which are otherwise very difficult to avoid. Surge, an anime-style sword energy slash, can eliminate multiple enemies at a distance. Although the last special move may be a spoiler, it has its own advantages.
It is also worth mentioning that Ghostrunner's sounds and sights are top notch. It's a beautiful looking game with a great synthwave-inspired soundtrack. You will be rocking all the way through.
Ghostrunner is the ultimate speedrunner's game, thanks to its fast pace and skill-heavy gameplay. This is a great first-person action game that can be punishing but never feel unfair, even for those who are not in the speedrunning crowd. Ghostrunner's difficult combat and platforming may make it difficult to survive, but there are instant respawns and ample checkpointing that ensure you never feel like you're losing your mind. Ghostrunner has a lot more than just that. It's jam-packed with many enemies, mechanics and special powers, which constantly changed the way I approached each encounter. It felt fresh and I was eager to return for more after the campaign's six- to eight-hour duration.