After Ghostrunner gained a cult following in 2020 thanks to a frantic, unforgiving gameplay style and its captivating cyberpunk-themed world, Ghostrunner 2 is now ready to give players new challenges set in the same world. Are you ready to slash your enemies once again?
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The original Ghostrunner was a sleeper hit. Released in 2020 for old-generation hardware, the game provided tough challenges for players to face, and mastering every single level was the only way to complete the game, as one single mistake would prove to be fatal. Three years later, developer One More Level is ready to unleash Ghostrunner 2 on PlayStation 5, promising more complex levels, and new abilities for Jack along with the same frantic, unforgiving gameplay. We’ve had time to play the game from beginning to end, and we’re ready to give you our impressions.
Ghostrunner 2 lets you take the role of Jack, the originally nameless Ghostrunner from the first game. After defeating the Architect, Jack will now have to face a new menace in the form of an IA cult composed of cyber ninjas, which was born outside of the Dharma Tower.
The story will be told both through in-game dialogue and through some sparse cutscenes. Without spoilers, it’s the same old sci-fi tale that shows you just how badly religion can go wrong. If you’re a fan of this particular setting, there’s a huge chance you’ve already read or seen something similar.
Compared to the first game, it’s clear the developers tried to add some more depth to the plot and the world-building. There will be instances where you’ll be able to interact with side characters and ask optional questions, which adds a lot to the game world’s lore.
To be honest, though, you’ll be hardly able to follow the plot when playing Ghostrunner 2. Most of the time, dialogues happening within levels are nothing more than background noise, and you’ll probably end up quickly losing interest in what’s happening because of how difficult it is to keep up with it.
Other than that, the story threads very familiar ground, and there are no particularly charismatic characters to make up for it. To be honest, we weren’t expecting a remarkable plot, given how things went in the first game, and even if developers put more effort into this aspect for Ghostrunner 2, it’s still nothing to write home about.
Gameplay-wise, Ghostrunner 2 maintains the same formula used in the first game. It can be described as an action/platformer in the first person, where every single mistake will prove to be fatal.
At the start of a level, you will be given one or multiple objectives to complete, which usually involve retrieving an object or reaching a certain point on the map.
Every level is filled with platforming hazards, so you will quickly need to master every single one of Jack’s abilities. Jack can do very high jumps, he can run on walls, can use a grappling hook, can dash mid-air, and more. All these abilities will allow you to progress through Dharma Tower’s locations safely, without falling to your death.
New abilities will be added throughout the game, and later stages provide quite a challenge in the platforming department. For example, you get a hacking ability that makes platforms appear and disappear on command, something that reminds us of Super Mario Galaxy (which is ironic, considering just how distant these games are).
Ghostrunner 2 also adds new abilities and weapons to Jack’s arsenal, which will be useful both in and outside combat. For example, you will get shurikens very early on in the game, and you’ll be able to use them to activate distant switches or stun/kill enemies from a distance.
While some stages are more platforming-oriented, during most of the game you will be indeed involved in combat. Enemies are waiting for you around every given corner, and even if Jack is an enhanced cyber ninja, he will still die after just one hit.
What this means is that, just like in the first game, you cannot make a single mistake while facing enemies. You need to memorize every single enemy position, their moveset, and their patterns, to figure out the best way to take down every single one of them without being hit.
This is made easier by frequent checkpoints, which means that you lose only a few seconds of playtime after a game is over, and you can reattempt a fight as many times as you want.
This kind of challenge is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s heavily trial and error, and it can become quite frustrating if you don’t like improving your playstyle until you reach absolute perfection. The game doesn’t allow for any mistakes, but in turn, you will never die for something that wasn’t your fault.
Compared to the first game, Ghostrunner 2 does have bigger stages, which usually allow for multiple approaches to any given situation. You will no longer feel like you need to figure out what the developers want you to do, as you will have a little more wiggle room to decide how to take on a mission.
Plus, as we said, Jack has been gifted with some new abilities that allow for greater freedom of choice when it comes to how to defeat an enemy. You can also upgrade some of his moves, which can prove to be very useful, especially in later stages. However, don’t think for a moment that these enhancements make the game any easier because that’s not the case.
If regular stages aren’t enough, each level contains one or more terminals that will allow you to play some extra thought challenges set in a virtual reality world. You will get some rewards for playing through them, and they will allow you to power up Jack, but these challenges are really difficult to beat even after having poured hours into the game.
Bosses are a real pain too. This is mostly because they usually have just one checkpoint mid-battle, which means that you will need to bring down their health bar without ever being hit. It’s still a game of memorizing their patterns and visual cues, but the fact that you aren’t allowed even a single mistake is what makes these battles so tense.
Another new feature comes in the form of vehicle stages. These provide a nice change of pace, and they gave us some nice Wipeout vibes, given the futuristic theme of the game. In all honesty, we would’ve liked to see some more of these, as they spice the game up quite a bit.
Ghostrunner 2 takes advantage of PlayStation 5’s hardware, and it’s a huge step up from the first game, especially if you keep in mind that this is a mid-budget game. Every single location is vibrant with colors and details, and the cyberpunk’s aesthetic style is simply captivating.
The game also has almost non-existent loading times, which is especially helpful since you will be dying a lot during the whole time.
The only things that are a little lackluster are character models and animations. They’re okay most of the time, but they are not on par with everything else the game has to offer in terms of visuals.
The soundtrack, on the other hand, is simply awesome, full of adrenaline-pumping electronic tracks that will make you feel like an unstoppable warrior. You will still die in one hit though, so don’t let your adrenaline make you think otherwise.
Speaking of sound, all the cast provided good performances for their characters. As we said, there aren’t any memorable characters in the game, but the voice actors did their best with what they were given.
Ghostrunner 2 offers very little reason to play through the game again once you’ve completed the main story mode. Sure, there are some collectibles that you will probably miss, as well as a few upgrades that you probably won’t get in your first run, but for most players, this won’t be enough of a reason to go back and play through a stage again.
Honestly, this is probably for the best. Given the game’s trial-and-error formula, a single run will probably be more than enough for most players. Adding more content would have meant padding the experience, which in turn would have made all the flaws of Ghostrunner 2 much more evident.
Ghostrunner 2 manages to improve everything its predecessor did. Levels are bigger and allow for multiple approaches, Jack has new abilities and there is more variety in what happens within a level. If you want a game that will constantly test your reflexes and that will demand absolute perfection from you, this is what you’re looking for. However, its hardcore formula won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, as it can become frustrating very early on. This is not a game for everyone – but to be honest, it’s not what it wants to be.
- The same, unforgiving gameplay of the first game
- Bigger maps allow for different approaches to completing objectives
- Stunning cyberpunk-inspired visuals and soundtrack
- The same, unforgiving gameplay of the first game