Review: Ghostrunner 2
I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I’d never even heard of the original Ghostrunner game, which is not surprising really when my fave video game genres are racing and RPGs, and those are what I mostly keep an eye open for.
So what was it about Ghostrunner 2 that peaked my interest when we were offered it for review…I really don’t know. However, I’m pleased that I accepted the challenge and went ahead with it.
Ghostrunner 2, much like the first game (which the narrative of is recapped in a video at the beginning of this sequel), is a first person, one-hit-kill (for both you and your enemies), visual and aural assault on your senses that tests your reactions and hand-eye co-ordination constantly…something my ageing reflexes struggled with on many occasions, but never became annoying.
You traverse levels at breakneck speed, jumping, dodging, swinging via grapple points, wall running, parrying and deflecting enemy katanas and gun fire, all while trying to make it to the next section of Dharma City in one piece and with a variety of ways to get there, all while making split second decisions on which way would be the best…and often making the wrong decision.
Making mistakes and getting killed (both of which will happen very often) are eased by a generous checkpoint system plus fast and easy respawns, allowing you to immediately retry any section and use different tactics in the hope that this time you will be successful.
You need to keep an eye on your stamina meter as this dictates how much you can block and/or dash, with both of these defensive moves being just as critical as your attacking moves in completing levels, with your katana slicing and dicing close up enemies and your shurikens taking care of ones that bit further away.
Also available in your arsenal is the Shadow skill, which turns you invisible while also creating a “shadow” of you where you activated it, plus the Flux skill, which lets you shoot a laser beam for a few seconds…awesome for taking out multiple enemies bunched together.
Skills are unlocked and improved via upgrade chips, which can then be added to your motherboard, of which purple memory chips are needed and hidden throughout the levels, encouraging exploration of each level.
New enemies, new powers, new visually different levels all help to make your progress through the game more enjoyable, be they focused on combat, parkour (which make Mirror’s Edge levels seem like a walk in the park), or thrashing at high speed on a motorcycle…which can also be used as a weapon!
Add to the main campaign a mode called Rogue Runner, that uses everything from the main game and puts you into random parkour and combat challenges in a rouguelike manner.
There are so many things in Ghostrunner 2 that should put me off from playing…the twitch gameplay that tests my reflexes which are not what they used to be…the banging music that I would normally turn off, but in this instance actually fit perfectly into the world and immersed me even more…the run, die, revive game mechanic that would otherwise drive me insane very quickly.
However, and it’s a very big “however”, all these “wrong”gaming ingredients that would otherwise turn me off a game, all came together perfectly and hooked me with that “just one more go” mentality, knowing that my latest death wasn’t the game cheating me, but something I’d done wrong and I COULD do it correctly if I just tried different options…and was a bit faster swinging my katana.
Sometimes games come along that you wouldn’t normally play, but become a very pleasant surprise when you do. Ghostrunner 2 is one of those games for me.
Give it a go…you could be surprised too.
Ghostrunner 2 is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows.
Review by Dave from an Xbox code.