Ghostrunner, developed by One More Level and co-published by All In!, is a cyberpunk parkour thrill ride that’s designed to kill you. A lot.
This hardcore first-person action and platforming title puts you into the suit of the titular Ghostrunner, also called Jack, who has his arm ripped off and body flung from the roof of a massive tower in the game’s opening cinematic.
Jack wakes up an unknown amount of time later, with a voice in his head and a sword in his hand – and immediately goes to work on ascending the tower once again, cutting everyone in his path to shreds. Sound like fun? It certainly is. Let’s dive in.
Cyberpunk, Before It Was Cool
Let’s get one thing out of the way real quick… Ghostrunner is goddamn gorgeous. The Blade Runner-esque futuristic setting has us in a grimy, industrial, futuristic city – drenched in neon lights and debauchery.
While you need to move VERY quickly in Ghostrunner to survive, it’s the moments in between the intense combat and platforming sections that give you an opportunity to stand still and drink in the environment that really let you appreciate how beautiful your surroundings are.
Ghostrunner combines the wall-running and platforming of Titanfall 2, with the one-hit kill mechanics of Hotline Miami. Most enemies that you’ll encounter will die with a single swipe of your sword, but so will you. Because of this, you’ll either be constantly moving, dashing, dodging, and blinking around enemies… Or you’ll die trying.
I Expect You… To Die
Did I mention that you’re gonna die in this game? Because you are. A lot. And that’s okay, because the core gameplay loop in Ghostrunner is way more fun than it seems. Ghostrunner will not let you forget how many times you’ve died. Just take a look at this screenshot taken during my review playthrough:
How did JB die so many times on that level? No idea. But these leaderboards make Ghostrunner a pretty unique experience, adding a pseudo-multiplayer element to the game that will have you ranting and raving to your friends about your deaths and level times. Speedrunners rejoice, this game is made for you.
Speaking of speed, Ghostrunner is a somewhat brisk experience, as the main story takes roughly 10 or so hours spanning its 17 levels. All In! Games has expressed interest in expanding the game’s content with time trials and “Ghost” modes where you can race against yourself, but otherwise it is a very self-contained experience.
Skills To Make The Kills
While leaping from place to place, mass-murdering criminals as a cybernetically-enhanced ninja, you’ll get deeper and deeper into Ghostrunner’s upgrade system. The upgrades are each tied to colorful block modules, which are very reminiscent of Tetris.
When you first earn the upgrades panel, the spaces you have to place blocks are very limited. However, as you progress through the game, more slots will open and more blocks will appear, letting you customize your Ghostrunner based on each unique challenge and your play-style.
The upgrades in Ghostrunner will give you additional Dash charges, more time to slow things down in mid-air, and allow you to make short work of your enemies in lots of fun, gory ways. After a few combat encounters at the very beginning of the game, I was thinking to myself – how the hell will this game handle more “beefy” encounters (like the main villain at the end)… And Ghostrunner immediately got to work in helping me put my own foot in my mouth as I began to unlock new upgrades and abilities.
Fast Times at Dharma Tower
When it comes right down to it, Ghostrunner is a damn good game. It’s a slick, Cyberpunk revenge tale with a lot more to offer than initially meets the eye.
While this game is challenging, and might have you contemplating throwing your keyboard (or controller) more than a few times, the full experience is more than worth persevering through.
The Good: Ghostrunner’s frantic, one-shot-one-kill gameplay is addicting. The game’s environments are gorgeous, and its story is a simple yet effective revenge tale.
The Bad: Clocking in at just about 17 levels, Ghostrunner is a brisk experience. There’s a good amount of meat here for $30 – but replayability is lacking a bit unless you’re a hardcore speedrunner.
The Verdict: 4/5. Ghostrunner is a super unique action title that will get your heart racing and your mind spinning. For $30 (and the fact that it’s on every platform) you really can’t afford to miss it.
Ghostrunner is available now on all consoles and PC for $29.99.