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Review: Ghostrunner

If you are looking for a game to wet your chops before the release of Cyberpunk 2077, then I encourage you to take a gander at Ghostrunner. This action-packed adrenaline rush experience of a game focuses on delivering a knockout in terms of exhilarating first person combat.

Set in a distant, dystopian future Ghostrunner portrays the world as polluted and uninhabitable. Mankind’s existence is limited to a giant superstructure of a skyscraper called Dharma Tower. The protagonist of the game is an android named Ghostrunner 74 (later named Jack), a cybernetically enhanced, katana-wielding bodyguard who recently failed in his mission of protecting Dharma Tower’s mastermind, the Architect. Jack wakes up sometime after the assassination and finds that his master escaped death by existing as an AI program. With the threat of a second death looming over the Architect and the unleashed anarchy on Dharma Tower, Jack is poised to resume his mission with the added goal of vengeance on the person responsible for the Architect's death, Mara.

On the topic of gameplay, Ghostrunner promises fast-paced action. Oftentimes players will be forced to take a blind corner into a group of enemies only to get mowed down by a stream of gunfire. Each encounter will require a certain level of creativity, but with all games that focus on fast-paced action execution is key. The “think on your feet” mentality of the game is reinforced with sparsely placed obstacles with limited visibility around them. As such, players can expect to fail a level many times over before succeeding in dispatching the enemy.

Combat can be best summarized as dancing on a rickety bridge over a volcano: it is an algorithm of carefully executed moves that will result in failure if one false step is taken. Despite the open arena for combat areas, it is rather illusionary to say that all options lead to success. In reality, some paths are more correct than others given the placement of enemies and the lack of cover from their fire. Players will spend time and time again trying to successfully execute the right dodge, the timed jump, or the precise attack. It’s a good thing that the game responds quickly to deaths with a one-button restart, otherwise the taxation of defeat would pile on rather quickly.

Where the game’s controls are a concern, the developers made every effort for the game to have as much customizability as possible. Keybindings are open for editing for mouse & keyboard players, and controller players will have a variety of preset controller styles to accommodate them. While a customizable controller option would have been nice, the many different controller schemes is a generous gift.

Visually Ghostrunner is stunning, combining impressive graphics with creative design. The foggy atmosphere of the future littered neon lights paints a cyberpunk-esque world. There’s very little to find in terms of details, however, as large open spaces and obstacles shadow all other aspects of art. In this regard, it almost seems like there’s an underutilization of the game’s engine, Unreal Engine 4.

Final Grade: B+

While the game capitalizes on the slasher gameplay, it does little to move anyone looking for a worldbuilding experience. Conversations through the Architect, Jack, and Zoe build on the story and hidden items add to the lore, however, not much exists beyond this. Of course, that is not the intent of the game. Rather, Ghostrunner focuses on delivering the action to the player. With its visually impressive graphics and challenging gameplay, Ghostrunner is sure to capture the attention of all who play it.

Ghostrunner was developed by One More Level, Slipgate Ironworks, and 3D Realms and published by 505 Games and All In! Games. At $30 on PC, PS4, XBox One, and Nintendo Switch this game is available for purchase today.

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