Ghostrunner 2 Review | VG247

Ghostrunner 2 is not a perfect game. I don’t believe it will take home many game of the year awards. It cannot be shaken by industry to the ground. There are better games out there now, 2023 is the terrible year. So why am I – at 3am Saturday morning – glued to the cyberpunk sequel? The answer is simple: Ghostrunner 2 knows what its audience wants. There’s a good chance it has what you want, too.

But first, some background. Ghostrunner 2 is the sequel to a moderately successful first-person action game from Polish developer OneMoreLevel. In it you play as Jack, the only surviving tech-laden superhuman Ghostrunner, one year after the climax of the original game. With the tyrannical rulers taken down in spectacular fashion, it’s up to you and your countrymen to face a new threat from within (and, perhaps, even outside) the Dharma tower.

Anyone who has caught even a brief glimpse of Ghostrunner or Ghostrunner 2 will know the action is the heart of the experience here. The game is very fun. Whether you’re absolutely fending off cybernetic ninjas, slowly running through incoming fire, or throwing shurikens at powerful mechs, Ghostrunner 2 is a blast. For all the game’s flaws – and it has a few – the folks at OneMoreLevel clearly understand how to make a challenging action game like this compelling, exciting, and incredibly fun.

The game is tough, but fair. It introduces each new enemy, ability, and mechanic slowly at first, before relying on the player to apply what they’ve learned in life-or-death battles and trying puzzles. Throwing yourself into the game over and over to find the right way to clear an encounter is expected. The only thing you can do wrong is stop moving forward, and any strategy you can think of to overcome the odds is fair game.

It naturally inspires you to discover the most efficient and stylish way around the game’s many obstacles in a loop that tickles the same part of your brain that Doom (2016) did or a violent riot Dishonored run. Ghostrunner 2 never struggled to stay interesting.

The player, from a first-person view, wields a sword and gazes into the red neon and black shadows of Ghostrunner 2's world.
We built this city with stocks and goals. | Image credit: OneMoreLevel

It’s clear that this action-heavy core experience is the focus. Ghostrunner 2 knows what the people who played Ghostrunner 2 want. It wastes no time in getting you back into the thick of things as quickly as possible. It’s good, but this dedication to sauce comes at the expense of other aspects of the game.

For example, the story isn’t exactly jaw-dropping. It has its moments of intrigue and shock for sure, but don’t expect a thrilling, emotive narrative, here. It’s a one-note journey through various action and puzzle set-pieces, but it also leads the player into cyber cathedrals with giant robots scattered about. Just so you can absorb everything, if you don’t rush from the fight to the fight.

I love the audio-visual experience that is Ghostrunner 2. The game knows what it is and shamelessly indulges itself in a futuristic landscape whenever possible. It likes to push the player through the gross mechanical guts that make up the world, sprinkled with techno-futurism, neon lights, and a banger electro-synth soundtrack that might develop a sweet tooth. The game nails the cyberpunk aesthetic on a macro level; it really knows what it’s doing when it shoves a giant robot in the background of a level, Simon Stålenhag style.

That said, I think the game fails in some areas visually. It’s not the prettiest game in the world – I got the impression that the team would rather focus its energy on making the various scenes you see attractive, rather than making sure the faces of the people you chat before the mission hub looks… natural. Occasional NPC interactions get messy at times. Early in the game, a key side character might as well have been captured by 80’s era GI Joes in a scene that ripped a sudden giggle out of me.

A laser is fired from the player's POV at an enemy, as the player character is wallrunning, in Ghostrunner 2.
Primary lasers. | Image credit: OneMoreLevel

The voice acting is also a real mixed bag. The cast of Ghostrunner 2 tries their best – Carl G. Brooks returns as the gruff robotic protagonist, Jack, and nails the role he’s been given, as well as Matthew Curtis (as Connor) who is a highlight throughout. Ghostrunner 2 isn’t afraid to make fun of its characters, nor is it shy of vaulting over a cliff of cringe — something I admit I didn’t think a game so willing to embrace silliness could pull off. . Although I wasn’t too enthused by the narrative as a whole, I have to thank the writers and VO staff for bringing the ragtag crew of the Ghostrunner to daft, brilliant life.

Any initial concerns I had that might prevent some people from giving Ghostrunner 2 a go are addressed in the settings. In the original Ghostrunner, some players experienced motion sickness, and the team learned from it. You have the option to turn off camera shakes and adjust your field of view to resolve this. In addition, if you are not too fond of challenging games, you can adjust the difficulty, no worries. It might not help with the platforming puzzles, but it should go a long way in making the game more palatable.

A cybernetically-enhanced enemy screams at you, looking hurt, with bolts of electricity that remove his implants.  Game: Ghostrunner 2.
So DOOM. | Image credit: OneMoreLevel

Sitting down and thinking about why I dig Ghostrunner 2 so much, I firmly believe it’s because of OneMoreLevel’s dedication to building a game with the ‘rule of cool’ in mind that crosses my own personal preferences. . For those who get pleasure (guilty or otherwise) from an unabashed love of katanas and cybernetic augmentation, Ghostrunner 2 pours the gravy you love straight down your throat.

If that kind of thing isn’t for you, then I bet even Ghostrunner 2’s rad action platforming won’t win you over. It’s no good driving a car you like with a coat of paint you don’t like, after all. Ghostrunner 2 is an electric green Nissan Skyline. In the spoiler! A dream for some, a nightmare for others. Get the demo on SteamGive it a try, and if you like what you see then the whole package is definitely for you.

Ghostrunner 2 is on Xbox, PlayStation and PC on October 26.

This review was done on PC, with a code provided by the publisher.

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