Ghostrunner caught my interest from the moment it was announced, I’ve always been a fan of the ‘cyberpunk’ theme so the presentation of the game was enough to convince me that I had to play it. However, Ghostrunner turned out slightly different than I anticipated and, although it doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative aspect, I am positive that this game is one of those that may not be enjoyable for everyone.
I personally enjoyed my time with this game overall, although there were moments where I just wanted to quit and never touch it again. But, who am I trying to fool, I always went back anyway…
The Mysterious Ghostrunner…
Ghostrunner throws its players right into the game without any guidance, leaving the narrative very scarce and withheld. You’re contacted by a mysterious voice in your head, called Whisper, who guides you through a tutorial of your abilities, teaching you how to parkour and take out enemies with your sword.
The only goal you have initially is to find Whisper’s cell and free him, all whilst manipulating time to dodge the enemy projectiles and traverse the uneven landscape – just like you do in Mirrors Edge.
As I progressed, the story slowly started to get revealed as well as the purpose of the playable character. Although I was curious about the story, I found the gameplay so engaging that I didn’t actually mind that I didn’t fully know what was going on. I had no problem with waiting patiently until everything started to make sense, being drip-fed to me over time, rather than delivered as a single chunk of information.
Let me start with the first thing you’ll notice. Ghostrunner is a fast-paced game where one slow move will almost surely cost you your life. You see, there is a one-hit kill system implemented (you die as soon as you get hit once). This mechanic really annoyed me (sometimes) as it was extremely hard for me to avoid getting hit when there were multiple enemies. The reason for that is that the protagonist is equipped with a katana whilst all the enemies have guns (don’t bring a knife to a gunfight…).
Luckily, more abilities get unlocked while advancing within the game, making the experience much better for me. However, I am not going to lie, I still became very frustrated in some parts.
Thankfully, there are a lot of checkpoints available in this game. These checkpoints are placed quite generous as well, one appears at the beginning of each area so the player never has to replay a lot when they inevitably die.
One thing which I didn’t like was that, despite implementing checkpoints, the player cannot quit in the middle of a level – they have to complete it so the progress gets saved. I often found myself getting utterly frustrated but couldn’t stop playing because that would mean that my hard-earned progress would be gone.
Running, Jumping, and Dying
I feel slightly torn when it comes to the gameplay of Ghostrunner. I think the best way to describe my experience with this game would be: It turned out to be a love/hate relationship. By that, I mean that it felt like torture going through the levels but, at the same time, I had a great time playing and refused to stop until I managed to complete the current level – no matter how long it took or how many times I ended up dying… I died a lot.
So, let’s come back to the gameplay itself. I loved the ability in Ghostrunner to run on walls, slide down things, and other parkour mechanics. Timing is the key here and even when the player ends up dying, they will eventually get better after studying the pattern of the area. Thus, even if it took a lot of tries for some areas for me, I was able to get past them after a while, although it really took a lot of time in some instances.
The fast gameplay was very engaging and I felt extremely cool when I was able to defeat the enemies. Did I mention that the player can even reflect bullets with the katana! Although, this turned out quite tricky due to the fast action and required quick reflexes.
It’s important to mention that Ghostrunner is very linear and there is only one possible path the player can take. The way itself is very obvious, so I never had any problems with the directions or getting lost. In addition to that, exploration is something Ghostrunner doesn’t focus on, so the only goal is to advance forward and kill all the enemies.
One issue I encountered was that I noticed that the katana sometimes didn’t react when I tried to attack. As Ghostrunner isn’t very forgiving when the player makes a ‘mistake’, this often resulted in my death. However, the majority of my failures were the result of me simply falling off the course, but they were my own silly mistakes!
Leaving my two left feet out of this, dying as a result of the katana not responding to my command was very frustrating for me. Even though it didn’t happen very often, each time it did I ended up dying through no fault of my own.
Compare Yourself To Your Friends
When completing a level in Ghostrunner, the game shows the player their results, as well as the ones from their Steam friends. For me, it was rather embarrassing because I ended up dying much more than my friends and needed a lot more time to complete the levels but regardless, it was interesting to see the skills of my friends.
I imagine this might motivate some people to replay the levels, purely to beat the time of their friends. In a way, it’s basically a competitive system added into a single-player game – I found that it added a nice touch to Ghostrunner and increased the replayability.
Graphics and The Optimisation
I’m positive that everyone will agree when I say that the graphics are stunning in Ghostrunner. There was no single area I didn’t absolutely admire and, in addition to that, the graphics are so detailed that I easily got lost in its world.
Speaking of, each area is rather small but it never really bothered me thanks to the splendid presentation. Some areas are more colourful and bright, whilst there are also dark areas which look just as awesome as you run through them.
Despite already seen screenshots of Ghostrunner beforehand, I was left in awe by the visuals when I entered the first level – I’ve rarely encountered such a beautiful world. The images really don’t do the game justice if you have a mid-high end GPU.
The optimisation of the game is something I would like to mention as well. For such a fast-paced game, I was surprised how well it ran on higher resolutions and, although I expected some frame drops when I decided to increase the resolution and graphics settings, Ghostrunner ran smooth. I should mention that I played this game with a GTX 1060 6GB, so it’s not like I own a high-end GPU either!
I still cannot decide whether I love or hate Ghostrunner, however, I definitely can say that I had an enjoyable time with the game. I have to admit that this game frustrated me a lot, although that only means that I was even more delighted when I finally managed to complete a level. The fast-paced gameplay and gorgeous graphics stood out and managed to offer me a one of a kind experience. That being said, if you’re into challenging games then Ghostrunner is the game you’ve been looking for, although you’ve been warned; This game might make your blood boil.
A PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X version is also coming in 2021.
- - Stunning graphics
- - A lot of checkpoints are available
- - Good optimisation
- - The player unlocks a lot of abilities which enhances the gameplay
- - Very challenging
- - The game cannot be quit mid-level, unless you're happy losing all progress since the last savepoint
- - The katana was unresponsive at times, resulting in premature deaths