In the future everything is bleak, people wear masks and the class system couldn’t be more in effect if it tried…..they got robots and neons too, it’s Ghostrunner!.
Ghostrunner places you firmly in the exoskeleton of the “Ghostrunner” himself, he’s basically a metal ninja with the passion to make everything be his parkour playground and anyone getting in his way dies.
Following a coup from a woman called Mara who now goes by the name The Keymaster, Ghostrunner is thrown from the foreboding monolith of Dharma Tower to the murky slums where he is found by a Resistance group, partially repaired and then contacted by The Architect, partner of Mara and he gives you one mission, Kill the Keymaster.
Naturally, along the way, there are a few twists and turns but the story is pretty paint by numbers. Like some of the greats, it doesn’t have to have a complex narrative to be serviceable, more Arnies Total Recall than Blade Runner in this case.
Here is where this review takes a turn for the weird. We were initially sent the Nintendo Switch version of the game to review, frankly readers it’s a mess. Fortunately, we got a Steam code also so will be reviewing that and following on with why you should avoid the Switch version.
Graphically Ghostrunner is on a whole new level, its easily the best looking game I have ever seen, and the fact it was running at a buttery smooth 60fps while sparks few, neon burning through the screen and so much going on made Ghostrunner feel like a Next-Gen experience to me. It nailed the Cyberpunk future aesthetic and felt like I was thrust into the world and striving to climb the monstrous Dharma Tower.
When you go to Cyberspace, it reminded me a lot of Tron, it has that typical “cyber” look of all blues and reds, lines and blurs. Real Lawnmower Man stuff. Not quite the spectacle of the main game but fit for purpose.
The audio is fantastic, the voice acting is about as hammy as you would expect and these are accompanied by some of the finest synthwave tracks around.
The gameplay in Ghostrunner can be described as a First-Person Free Running Slice em up!, it fuses platform elements with swordplay and does it through the eyes of the Ghostrunner, think Mirrors Edge with more decapitation or first person Katana Zero with less crack.
The gameplay loop basically throws you into the world, you Jump, slide, wall run and grapple across the level until an enemy room. You use the same tools to then dispatch enemies which are more than capable of killing you in 1 hit.
Along the way you’ll pick up various powers, the dodge is the most important allowing you to react quickly and reposition to avoid incoming bullets and make that quick kill. Later on you’ll get powers, one particularly useful in being a screen clearer, lovely stuff!
Another little buzz phrase I’d love to coin for this title is “Die Fast, Reload Faster”. It is very much trial and error, you’ll die, alot and you just respawn with the press of a key and get straight back into it. The lack of loading really keeps you in the zone of the Ghostrunner.
The campaign is 6 to 8 hours long, maybe even longer if you see that death screen as many times as I did!. Despite how good it looks and sounds, the gameplay never really innovates throughout, intact there is one aspect that is rather detrimental to the product.
The camera angle, first person is fantastic for shooting games or games where you can take a bit of damage, here it’s a hindrance. Often you won’t see what killed you or you’ll misjudge a jump or hit a wall wrong. It’s a great idea just not the best fit sadly.
Ghostrunner is a great visual and auditory experience married with a rather run of the mill and at times clumsy gaming experience. When it clicks, it really clicks but there is alot of room for player annoyance here stemming from the core gameplay. More than worth the asking price if you like your games hard but rewarding just bare in mind this may be one of the rougher experiences to ride.
Now as mentioned we were originally supposed to be review the Switch release of the game, frankly we couldn’t. Having played a preview of the game in September on PC then playing an hour of the Switch version I knew I couldn’t continue, fortunately the PR Rep provided me with a steam code, consider this segment a warning for Switch players.
I love Ghostrunner, I hate Ghostrunner on the Switch. The visuals are downgraded in such a way it not only looks painful, it affects the gameplay. It runs at 30fps, you can see textures under your feet load, the god awful sound design. Sections I did in the PC version with less than 5 deaths saw me rack up around 54 on the last section I tried before I promptly deleted it. If you fancy Ghostrunner and need a cyberpunk fix, please play it elsewhere and don’t let this port sully what is a good title!.