When I first saw the trailer for Ghostrunner it looked like the cyberpunk lovechild of Dishonored and Mirror’s Edge and immediately it hit my ‘keep an eye on’ list. However, after playing through the game’s brief demo my opinion has changed somewhat. While my anticipation levels remain high, the game appears less Dishonored than I had hoped, and instead it’s more like a Superhot-inspired violent Mirror’s Edge. Not that that is a bad thing, because what I have played of Ghostrunner is damn good – I just like a good dose of narrative with my games.
Set in a chaotic world where the remaining members of humanity are housed in a tower at the centre of a ramshackle city, players take on the role of a Ghostrunner, who is awoken by an entity known as The Whisper. The Whisper will act as your guide as you ascend Dharma Tower in search of answers to the mystery that grips the city before taking revenge on the Keymaster.
While the demo is a little more than the game’s tutorial, players are tasked with freeing The Whisper from prison – an objective that can be completed in under ten minutes if you’re good enough. Here you’ll get a taste of what Ghostrunner is all about: fast-paced visceral action.
Your Ghostrunner is the model cyborg athlete, running (including wall running), jumping, sliding, grappling, dashing and slashing without breaking a sweat (do cyborgs sweat?). The main aim of the game is to stay moving – each level plays out like a puzzle, with players needing to find the best route forward without perishing, which is not easy to do given the game’s one-hit kills. The game’s core gameplay loop is built on the mantra of try, die, try again, a mantra found in games like Hotline Miami and Superhot.
However, the Ghostrunner has a few tricks up his sleeve and is able to slow down time and dodge bullets before slicing enemies to pieces thanks to their trusty sharp katana. Master your skillset and you’ll be tearing through levels with stylish lethality. From what I can garner from the game’s website and Steam page, players will have access to other skills via upgrades, how deep this system goes we’ll have to wait and see.
From a visual standpoint the game oozes cyberpunk flavour thanks to the city’s futuristic makeup of neon lights and decaying metallic topography. It’s a world I want to explore more of to discover the reasons behind the world’s collapse. Being backed by a pulsing synth soundtrack plays right into my favour too.
There’s not much to go off, but from what I’ve played Ghostrunner is on the right path to being a unique and compelling experience. When the game is full flow it’s a true delight to play; it’s fast, visceral and satisfying. It remains to be seen how much weight will be placed on the narrative’s shoulders, but perhaps that won’t matter if the game can continuously make you feel like a bad arse assassin.
Ghostrunner is set to launch on PS4, Xbox One and PC in 2020. It’s being developed by One More Level, 3D Realms and Slipgate Ironworks, and published by All in! Games.