Ghostrunner drops the player into a fantastical cyberpunk world to throw off the reins of a tyrannical oppressor through the power of parkour and swords. Throughout the course of the game the player will race against the clock in a world decimated by the catastrophic collapse of humanity, as the last remnants of our fallible race vie for resources in the superstructure that houses the survivors.
The player will jump, slide, wall run, hack and slash their way through the dystopian environment to unlock the capabilities of the Ghostrunner, and find the truth of their story hidden behind a cloud of mystery.
These are the MGN Impressions of the cyberpunk adventure, brought to the world by the developers ‘One More Level’ & ‘Slipgate Ironworks’ and published by ‘All in! Games SA’ & ‘505 Games’. The article is based on play from the PC, Steam edition of Ghostrunner.
The MGN Impressions are broken down into four different by equal parts:
Whilst x-factor will change from article to article, and game to game, Ghostrunner’s x-factor will be judged on Badass Level. As, we feel, that’s the goal of the game. To make the player feel like a robot ninja badass. Does the game live up to that expectation? Stick with us and find out.
Story – 8/10.
Whilst it can be said that the plot of Ghostrunner exists simply to give some context to the exhilarating wall, bouncing, sword chopping that is the crux of the enjoyment to be found in the game, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t executed well.
Without spoiling too much, what I will say that is the writers have indeed executed that purpose well. The early stages of the game work quickly to introduce the player to the who, what, where, and when of their purpose inside Dharma Tower and provide that player with enough interest that they want to progress through the early level not only for the enjoyment of the gameplay, but to learn more about the world they’ve been dropped into.
This is aided heavily by the voice acting work of both Jack – the Ghostrunner, and the first ally the player will encounter in the pseudo AI called ‘The Architect’. The Ghostrunner is voiced by Carl G. Brooks and The Architect by Mark Dodson. They are the first two voices the player will hear and provide the early exposition of the story, and both do a job that is extremely easy on the ears.
Sound – 9/10.
As I mentioned above, the voice acting for Ghostrunner is superb. This is in part from the performance, but also the casting. I feel as though the actors chosen perfectly suit their roles in the game, in such a way that I cannot imagine key characters being voiced by any other voice in the industry right now. Dodson being cast as The Architect is the apex of these casting decisions. Not only does the voice fi the character model, but the resemblance between Mark and The Architect is uncanny to the point where I question which came first – the chicken or the egg. The casting or the character model.
Moving away from the voice acting to the sound effects and soundtrack. For me, both hit the mark. You need the audio feedback from the wall running and the gushing of enemies blood to be able to play the game effectively, and both feel A) satisfying and B) effective in providing that feedback.
The soundtrack itself will have you pumped up, and increase the heartrate as you dash through corridors, evade enemy attacks, and slice through bodies. I will say that the timing in which those increases in thematic music can be somewhat mistimed if you find yourself failing a particular section repeatedly. However, if you’re better than me at videogames, this will be a non-issue.
Gameplay – 8/10.
Ghostrunner delivers on the premises of a game similar to Mirror’s Edge in parkour, packed with action, and the promise of ninja-like swordplay. Performing all of your abilities to fluidly travel through a section of the game, whilst felling goes along the way, feels incredibly satisfying. The quick respawn, and lack of a heft death penalty, aid to this satisfaction is a way that was cleverly designed and executed.
You don’t feel heavily punished for failing to guide the Ghostrunner through an environment on the first time around. So, you can build experience with the environment and enemies and work towards a strategy that, when pulled off, finally feels fluid and satisfying – and makes for great viewing.
My single gripe with this execution is the lack of tutorials given to the player when new abilities are introduced. Whilst most of the text descriptions are pretty straight forward, and sound very, very cool, a lack of video or guided tutorial for some of these leads to some trial and error that might take some time and pull the player away from what else they could be doing in the game that is actually enjoyable.
X-Factor – 11/10.
Yes you read that correctly, eleven out of ten. The X-Factor of Ghostrunner is that it makes you feel badass. That is the overall goal, and purpose of playing the game, is to feel like a badass. And you do. No matter what.
Even with the trial and error style of gameplay, each attempt or different avenue of play still makes you like a badass. Regardless of your approach of play, or how successful you are throughout a level in achieving the fluidity which should be your goal, you’re still a high-flying, futuristic, robot ninja – and that is always cool.
Ghostrunner is out now, and is available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.