Sunday , May 26 2024

Videogame Review: ‘Ghostrunner 2’ – Leap, Slash and Parkour Around a Cyberpunk Dystopia

The original Ghostrunner was a breath of fresh air with its lightning quick reloads and even quicker action. The sequel builds on what the original game did well, delivering a breakneck-paced action-adventure, but falters a bit with a thin storyline and one-dimensional characters.

Set approximately a year after the original title, Ghostrunner 2 stars the original cyborg hero, now freed and naming himself Jack. He joins the burgeoning Interface Council as they try to restore order and hope to a populace that has lost both.

The story itself is thin at its best and often confusing, with hard sci-fi terms thrown around like casual talk (and I am a major sci-fi nerd). The character interactions in the main hub are also very stilted and basically static despite a facade of choice in dialogue.

Thankfully the story is simply a path to the action of the game, which is frankly fantastic when your skills gel with the mechanics of the game. If your skills are wanting the game can be quite unforgiving, but developer One More Level made sure that reloads after defeat are near instantaneous so it is relatively painless when death occurs. Which will happen quite often.

In the world of Ghostrunner, Jack is incredibly skilled, fast and deadly, but oddly vulnerable, and a single hit from any enemy means instant death. It is an odd concept to get used to after years of playing games like Doom but thanks to speedy reloads death is just a tool for learning in Ghostrunner 2.

As levels and sequences are encountered new techniques and lightning-quick reflexes are needed to progress. Thankfully Jack has some great tools and tricks up his robotic sleeves. A grappling hook, shurikans for ranged attacks, and skills that slow time or drop a duplicate all factor into ways to evade, parry and kill enemies in your way.

What is most compelling about Ghostrunner 2 is the avenues of exploration, movement and actions that can be leveraged to complete each run. As each new area is encountered there are varied paths that can be navigated to try a more efficient kill route or path to the goal.

The developer also designed the areas to be bite-sized, with frequent checkpoints easing the frustration if an enemy or tricky jump leads to death for Jack. This economical way to segment each run does make exploration a little stilted but it ultimately leads to a far more enjoyable experience.

The game itself is relatively short if just running through the story missions, but there are also plenty of training sequences and in-mission challenges that reward players for completion. These training sequences are sometimes found in the main hub once a new NPC is discovered; challenges are also found in random spots in the campaign.

These extra and fully optional playable segments vary from parkour sections to combat challenges and always give rewards if conditions are met. Sometimes it’s skins for blades/gloves or ability upgrades, but it’s always appreciated.

Another amazing aspect to Ghostrunner 2 is the dynamic music that accompanies the frenetic traversal and combat. Videogame music is often overlooked, but the music here is top-notch and greatly adds to the thrill of each segment as you discover and conquer it.

While Ghostrunner 2 is not a perfect game, it is exceedingly fun and addictive thanks to the fast and varied combat and instant reloads upon death. This makes a beautiful, challenging and rewarding loop of trial and error as each level is beaten.

It’s a rare game that makes you feel, dare I say it, gifted as a gamer, and Ghostrunner 2 evokes that feeling over and over again as you discover challenge after challenge. It’s worthy game, a fun sequel and a breath of fresh air in this crowded gaming ecosystem we are in right now.

We were given a PS5 key of Ghostrunner 2 by publisher 505 Games for review purposes. The title is available October 26 for PC via Steam, Epic and GoG as well as for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.

About Michael Prince

A longtime video game fan starting from simple games on the Atari 2600 to newer titles on a bleeding edge PC I play everything I can get my hands on.

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