Ghostrunner is a fast-paced action-platformer set in a futuristic Cyberpunk world – the story isn’t groundbreaking, but the game really shines when it comes down to its cutthroat gameplay.
There’s a lot of wall-running, slashing through numerous enemies with your cyber-katana, and flying through the air. Oh, and a lot of dying. Yeah. You’re going to die a lot.
Although you’re a badass cyber-ninja, you also die in one-hit. While this might sound frustrating, it’s the progress through each arena/level that feels very satisfying. There is no one set path and you can use the environment and your own abilities to figure out different routes.
Ghostrunner really gives you the feeling that you’re a ruthless killer, especially when you’re running on walls, deflecting bullets with your blade, and dodging robotic goons. It’s not far-fetched to draw some similarities with Mirror’s Edge and the first-person parkour movement definitely has an essence of this now-ancient predecessor.
I’ve only played a couple of hours so far, but the game does push itself beyond its gimmicked combat. There are puzzle elements to certain levels, upgrades to boost your skills throughout the game, and a fluidity to the movement and abilities that let you take pretty much total control of how you approach each fight.
There’s a grappling hook, the ability to wall-run and jump, but also a slow-down-time mechanic that makes you feel like you’re reliving a scene from The Matrix. It’s the variety of the gameplay that makes Ghostrunner so engrossing, and most likely one of the year’s best platformers.
It’s a good thing the gameplay is so fluid because the story isn’t all that engrossing. This is your typical Cyberpunk/dystopian setting, with some creepy dictator on a tall tower and his hordes of goons that you need to battle through. All the story comes at you through an interior narration, and if anything, just provides a little backdrop to the carnage unfolding around you.
The game is out on all major platforms – Xbox, PlayStation, and PC – although I played through the first couple of hours on PC. Because of the quick movements and fluid gameplay, I can see Ghostrunner as being best played on PC with mouse and keyboard.