In Ghostrunner your cybernetic suit provides you with superhuman powers and lightning-fast reflexes to assist you in climbing a massive tower to take down the ruler — The Keymaster — of your dystopian city and finally find your true purpose.
Mirror’s Edge gave us the free-running action genre when it released back in 2008. Wall-running, wall-jumping and the numerous variations of moves were relatively new to the first-person perspective, and with it came a new appreciation for flow in motion. Ghostrunner builds upon that free-motion formula and brings all the best parts of being a badass cyber-warrior on top of it.
Your weapon, a cyber-blade, will allow you to make quick work of any of the genetically-altered goons that roam the tower. Using a one-hit-to-kill approach, it’s literally a “do or die” situation. You either make the strike first or they take you out, starting you back at the past checkpoint — something which is never too far away. You can use in-air dashes which also slows down time and lets you dash around oncoming gunfire — offering a bullet-time solution to avoid being shot. After landing on the ground, you’re able to dash into your enemies and catch them with your sword, producing a satisfyingly grotesque result of blood and dismemberment.
Additionally, you have a grappling hook that gives you the ability to grapple specific glowing points in the distance and lift yourself up in the air, gaining height to reach higher platforms or walls to run on in order to progress. Some grapple points simply serve as a quick means to cross gaps and bounce back and forth between platforms filled with enemies. An extremely satisfying kill is one which uses the speed and verticality of the hook to propel yourself above your assailant and then dash down on top of them with a mighty rage.
Each segment of the game is broken into free-running and short bursts of combat. The tower itself is certainly a strong focal point of the game, providing a gritty and stunningly powerful environment for the action to take place in. It’s a living, breathing structure full of personality and purpose that has you searching its features for the path forward — and more often than not, upward. It’s very rare that you’ll find yourself moving on a singular plane. Instead, you’re zipping around in the air and dashing about with ease, slicing through bad guys and then on to the next section. I can’t stress enough how good it feels to play this game.
After my demo, I asked about additional content beyond the basic enemies found within this build and was told that not only will there be harder enemies, but the final game will include boss fights as well. One More Level seems to have a hit on their hands. I fell in love with the environments reminiscent of the tight-spaced, futuristic city design of the canceled Prey 2, and the quick action from some of my favorite FPS games of late, especially DOOM. I am so in for this cyberpunk ninja fantasy game seemingly straight out of my dreams and will have a tough time waiting for the release sometime later this year.
Ghostrunner is planned to release sometime in 2020 for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One, but I got the chance to see it at PAX South. Follow them on Twitter or check out their website for more information as it becomes available.