Ghostrunner is an action-adventure game set in the cyberpunk environment of Dharma Tower. The game focuses on lightning fast-twitch reaction-based gameplay that can take some serious getting used to. Players will take the mantle of the titular character, Ghostrunner, a nameless robot ninja who has no memories but is a murder machine with the powers of Spider-Man and Genji combined. By climbing up the tower, players will gain new abilities and conquer increasingly difficult foes and platforming obstacles. Speed is a core aspect of the game. It seems like the developers made Ghostrunner with replayability and speedrunning in mind.
Ghostrunner is a game that does a lot of things right, but the best way to describe gameplay is that it makes you feel cool as hell. There is a certain satisfaction to running up a wall while deflecting a bullet back at an attacker and throwing shurikens at a different enemy. Ghostrunner gives players that satisfaction. The game’s core loop is, enter room, use your many ninja abilities to take out all the enemies, and get to the next room. Some sections are broken up with brief platforming obstacles, but where the game shines is in its combat.
There are various abilities in the game that offer many different ways to tackle each challenge, but later in the game, some become necessary to survive.
Speaking of survival, my one problem with the game is the health system. There is none. One-shot deaths are a part of what makes Ghostrunner so unique and enjoyable, but the same mechanic also diminishes the game’s level design at some points.
The first half of the Ghostrunner is a master class in fluid game design and crafting difficulty. The levels are challenging but not discouraging, and the result is an incredibly rewarding gameplay experience. Unfortunately, at around the halfway point, the density of enemies and spawn locations combine with the one-shot kills to create frustrating moments. Deaths no longer feel like a result of player error but instead blind luck and the accuracy of the A.I. That being said, the game overall is an exciting experience worth playing, and completing the campaign feels like a real accomplishment.
The story in Ghostrunner, while not entirely unique, is done very well. The voice acting is as good as any and does a tremendous job of making players feel invested in the game. Players become the Ghostrunner, a robot meticulously crafted to be the finest blade master to ever exist. Using new technology found along the way, the Ghostrunner must climb the massive Dharma Tower to defeat the tyrannical leader, the Keymaster. With help from a few allies and new upgrades, the Ghostrunner will have to use every tool at his disposal to even stand a chance. Secrets and unlockable items offer further detail into the violent world of Ghostrunner.
There are six abilities in the game that the player unlocks as they progress through different levels. Each power feels unique and adds multiple ways to defeat enemies and tackle obstacles. Switching between abilities is as easy as changing weapons in other games, but a stiff cooldown and recharge meter ensure that players can’t spam abilities and must instead plan on what their playstyle will be before attempting to clear a level. I don’t want to go into detail about the various abilities because discovering them and how they work is a large part of the fun of Ghostrunner.
Remaining vague, I will say that some skills shine more than others, but each power-up has its place. For me, the abilities and story kept me invested in the game. When gameplay felt discouraging, the quality of these other aspects helped me power through and continue the campaign.
I played Ghostrunner on PC, and the game looked outstanding. Even though the game is frantic in pace, details in the environment are shockingly clear, and obstacles themselves are often a marvel to look at. Ghostrunner feels incredibly smooth, and I frequently paused to soak in the brilliantly nuanced game world. The enemy design can be somewhat repetitive, but the insane variance in level designs makes them hardly noticeable. Surprisingly the last thing I was looking at was my enemies. Ghostrunner requires focus in so many quickly moving areas that minor things like enemy outfits or attack animations could sometimes go unnoticed.
While playing the first level of Ghostrunner, I paused the game and immediately looked for its soundtrack online. The game’s aesthetic is perfectly complemented by its top tier audio. Yes, there are cool slashing sounds and video game noises, but the music in the game is on a different level. The only problem I had with the audio was that there weren’t more songs to listen to. Some tracks can feel repetitive, but that is honestly up to how long it takes a player to get past a level.
- GAMEPLAY - 75%75%
- STORY - 81%81%
- GRAPHICS - 90%90%
- AUDIO - 90%90%
Ghostrunner can be painfully challenging, but the game shines in enough areas to make it worth playing. Spectacular voice acting and buttery smooth gameplay make Ghostrunner feel like more of an experience than a game at times. Graphically the game is stunning and a testament to the power game consoles and computers. The music adds to every aspect of the title. Each level from start to finish is accompanied by top tier audio. To sum things up, Ghostrunner is a blast to play, and its overall experience is worth any minor hiccups players may encounter along the way.
For more on Ghostrunner, check out our previous coverage.