By Tom "TomBsTone" Bronneberg on November 4, 2020
Speed runners Heaven, casual players' worst Nightmare!
Ghostrunner is a brand new action-filled game, developed by the Polish studio One More Level and co-published by All in! Games and 505Games. And let me tell you, these guys don't mess around! They are currently recruiting new members for the resistance in this newly developed Cyber-Punk post-apocalyptic reality. If you like Blade runner, platforming action games, ninjas, 80's cyber Synth wave and horrifying 1-hit, 1-death gameplay you've come to the right place.
After a short but awesome intro sequence, you reawaken on the run, and you are immediately thrown into an extremely fast-paced run for survival. And I really mean immediately, there is no time for pleasantries or other shenanigans. Disoriented and not sure who or what you are, you need to stay alive and run for your life. Guiding your way around this mesmerizing cyberpunk alternate reality is the voice of the Architect. A man who has taken it upon himself to enhance your body with cybernetic components. Sadly, the OS is not running as it should and your first objective is to free him from his prison so he can improve your software and thus improving your abilities. With these newly unlocked upgrades, it is your task to strengthen the resistance and defeat their enemies to save the world, and maybe unravel bits of your past while you're at it.
Aided by cybernetic enhancements and a Sci-Fi Katana, you run, jump, grapple, slice-n-dice your way at an extremely high pace through cleverly designed platform-based levels. It seems linear but there are loads of different routes you can take to get from start to finish. The action is very, very high paced, I cannot stress this enough. You experience the action from a first person view and this will demand a serious strong stomach to play for longer durations. At first, I thought this would be like Mirrors Edge, but Ghostrunner truly is in a league of its own. The Cyberpunk reality is often traded for a virtual reality, like entering the matrix. These levels are mostly designed for testing newly unlocked abilities and story progression. However, they form a welcome addition in level design.
The controls did feel a bit awkward at first, because in default state most primary actions are used by the trigger buttons, and being a platform fanatic myself I do like to use the buttons for jumping around a bit more. So first tip, use the controller option menu before you start playing. They have many presets to choose from, so make sure to optimize it for your desired playstyle. But beware, you will be mashing the controller to keep up with the action so choose wisely. At times, the game can be a bit overwhelming because of the intense speed and accuracy needed to complete these levels. In addition, the one hit one death mechanic only adds to the frustrating part of the experience, but this is nicely counterbalanced by the instant respawn and numerous checkpoints. You can literally die and respawn 10 times in a minute because you fail a specific jump right after a checkpoint. So looking at the positive, this is a great game to learn from your mistakes. You need to get it right to proceed. There is no "half-assing" it around here.
Ghostrunner is designed as a cyberpunk game should look like. Tall buildings, giant factories, laser grids, mechanical contraptions, loads of neon and one of the best soundtracks to get your juices pumping. I love the feel the world brings about itself and the voice acting is top notch, yet can get a bit repetitive at times when you are stuck in a level and retrigger the same sequence again and again and again because you fail to reach a certain platform. But I highly recommend to play this game at high volumes, just to get sucked even more into this fantastic world. Fighting is not a problem in Ghostrunner. With your cybernetic enhancements and Katana your enemies will be no match for you, and the fast-paced platforming will not be interrupted by fighting sequences whatsoever. This is mainly because your Katana will cut through your enemies like a Katana should cut through your enemies. they blink, they die.
The boss levels are a real challenge in their own right, but lucky for you these will also have checkpoints. For most players this game will be very hard to master. Mostly due to the extreme high pace and insta-death mechanics. However, for speed runners this is a dream come true. Each level can be replayed at your bidding; Time and death counts are a standard feature, as is online comparison. I can't imagine anyone playing this game without dying as much as I did, but I did watch a few speedruns online that made my jaw drop to the floor. Not only in the mastery and skill of the players but also in the extreme well-designed levels, that for the most part, were still hidden from me because I simply did not see the alternate routes as the real speedrunners clearly did.
This proves the quality of the game itself as well as the huge amount of effort the developers put into creating it. So many different ways to go about things, so many routes to take, and still maintaining a clear and awesome level designed. As I mentioned before this game is hard, very Hard. You will die. a lot. Do not give up, just find a way around your problem or watch a tutorial to clear the level you are stuck on. In the end, you will figure it out, and when you have mastered the controls, you really do feel like a cyber-ninja.
Ghostrunner is like riding a Blade Runner themed rollercoaster on steroids while wielding a Katana. I dare you to try it for yourself!