Review | Ghostrunner
While cyberpunk is the hot genre this year, many games have found it hard to distinguish themselves in such an emerging field. Thankfully, One More Level’s Ghostrunner puts a unique spin on the traditional cyberpunk format. Not to mention a unique dash, a unique slice, and so on. Here, you play as a Ghostrunner, the last of the cybernetic ninjas slaughtered by a brutal overlord . From there, you embark on a brutal first person hack and slash campaign through a desolate urban wasteland.
Gameplay wise, Ghostrunner only gets harder from there. Everything kills you in one hit. The learning curve is steep, but not impossible. Your two main abilities, dashing and slowing down time allow you to gain an advantage. Thankfully, while the enemies can finish you off instantly, so can you. The levels are designed around your maneuverability, offering multiple paths to quickly execute your foes. You will die quite a bit, but that isn’t a bad thing. A diverse playstyle and exploration are both rewarded through collectibles and unlockable cosmetics, earning you bragging rights. One tip for new players is deflecting bullets by rapidly swinging your sword instead of trying to perfect dodge every time. While a hard experience, completing an area is very rewarding, and worth dying in the double digits.
The story is light, but engaging. Most of the plot is given through voiced dialogue, and a short cinematic upon startup sets the tone for the game. Voices have a certain synthetic sound to them, making them match the cyberpunk world. There’s occasional story segments throughout the game as well, with most cinematics being pretty short. As for the soundtrack, synthpop music accompanies the levels with a quick tempo, giving a sense of urgency. If you like synthpop, you’ll like the score of Ghostrunner.
While the gameplay focuses on cutting around corners, the graphics are anything but. The bright red gore you’ll accumulate through your rampage contrasts the garishly grey and neon exteriors. Occasionally, virtual missions will take you through a parkour kaleidoscope to break up the monotony. The characters of Ghostrunner are unique within the universe, and memorable out of it. In addition, the customization options you unlock throughout are cool in their own right.
During my few hours playing through Ghostrunner I didn’t encounter any bugs. There are occasional awkward inputs and hit detection, but nothing gamebreaking. Some may find the lack of difficulty customization awkward, but Ghostrunner isn’t impossible to play. It does require more trial and error than the average game, which may be a negative to people. With that in mind, I never found the game overly aggravating, but I understand why people might. Again, the real reward comes in overcoming a tough level, not in breezing through the entire game.
All things considered, Ghostrunner is a slick experience. If you can get the hang of it, you’ll really feel like a ninja. A lot of comparisons to the popular Superhot are floating around, but as a fan of both, I don’t really see it. Outside of a slow-down mechanic, the two feel very different. I’d recommend Ghostrunner to anyone who feels up to the challenge, cyberpunk fan or not.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10