Review: Ghostrunner

Ghostrunner is the next best thing if you miss Cyberpunk in November. The game carries a Cyberpunk theme with appropriate music, but plays like a hardcore action platformer.

In Ghostrunner you enter the body of.. Yes, a Ghostrunner. Number so many not to be exact. The storyteller told me once, but I was trying way too hard not to die, so I couldn't follow the story properly. This is actually my biggest flaw about the game. And honestly, also the only one.

Time to run

You start the game just as you crashed after a female Doctor Octopus chopped off your arm. You wake up with no memories and are greeted by an AI voice in your head, Architect. He is responsible for the Ghostrunners' existence as a security corps, but was betrayed by Mara, who now runs the whole thing. Your revenge mission starts here and your first assignment is to free Architect so he can help you navigate the tower in which the game takes place.

No sooner said than done, but now that's not how it works in this hardcore action platformer. Ghostrunner is very difficult, but the difficulty level is not such a problem because the game works with a very neat checkpoint system where you reach an invisible checkpoint after almost every encounter. That's a good thing because dying is a very common phenomenon. On average I die every level as often as in the last level of Crash Bandicoot 4 (lucky if you don't know this one yet). Fortunately, the many checkpoints ensure that the frustration level remains surprisingly low.

Run, jump, cut

The game actually consists of two major parts. Platforms and combat. One goes without the other, but that's not the rule. In addition to platform and combat sections, in many cases you will have to taste both flavors together to master the challenge. And this is so cool to do, but damn! How hard can it be. This is because you cannot take any damage. If you get hit once, you're out. Try again.

Fortunately, it's made a little easier for you by a temporary bullettime mode that you can activate when you are in the air. This allows you to dodge bullets in slow motion and you have a very short breather to prepare your next attack. It is therefore really essential to eagerly use this slowmo time because you are being fired on from all sides. And again: one bullet is already fatal.

A faster pace

As you progress through the game the challenges get harder, you have to be quick in your feet while paying close attention and making the right choices in a flash of a second. Enemies become more difficult and come with shields or in the form of ninjas that you must first block before you can unleash a counterattack. Fortunately, it's not all that bad, because you also get some new powers yourself, such as a force push. Most new powers, on the other hand, are on a cooldown. So it doesn't get much easier.

It is also becoming increasingly challenging when it comes to platforms. In the beginning you do it with slides, walls that you have to run down and soon you get a grappling hook to move yourself through the air. The pace is getting faster and the platforms you have to use to progress become less static. Platforms will move in the air, which means that not only your precision has to be good, but also your timing.

Trial and Error

Ghostrunner mainly consists of Trial and Error. I've mentioned it a few times: the game is quite difficult. But don't let this difficulty level influence you. The loading times are very short so you can try the failed section again very quickly. Building up a so-called muscle memory therefore happens quite quickly, so that you get further and further, until you finally manage to achieve a certain encounter after a few tries. The pattern remains almost the same every time.

What number was I again?

The last of its kind, number 74. Fate is in your hands, one of which has just been chopped off. Luckily you got a robotic arm in return. 'Every advantage has its disadvantage', because this arm comes with a number of tricks. This also applies to the game itself. Constant movement and tension where you don't really want to stand still for a second, but you actually have to. At least if you want to follow the story. I already mentioned that this was actually my only flaw in the game. Running and jumping, Architect talks to you and tells you all kinds of things, but it doesn't stick very well because you're concentrating on what's happening. If you really want to follow the story, you have to stop and listen to what Architect has to tell you. Fortunately, the story is not the carrier of this game.

Verdict

Ghostrunner is the closest to Cyberpunk you can get in November (yes, I know the game came out in October). But the game is more than just a cool Cyberpunk theme. It is a cleverly put together platformer with a lot of challenge that the seasoned Dark Souls will enthusiastically lose a lot of sweat to.

 

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