Ghostrunner 2 is a first-person action platformer developed by One More Level and published by 505 Games. The game will launch on October 26 on PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5, and is set one year after the events of the 2020 original game. Now in Ghostrunner 2, players take on the role of Jack, a cyber ninja who must fight his way through a post-apocalyptic cyberpunk city to save humanity. The music gets you pumped, the art design really shows off the cyberpunk world and it ran smoothly most of the time on my PC.
As we play Jack, we will join the Interface Council in their quest to bring order to this futuristic dystopian world. To say Ghostrunner 2 is a very fast-paced game is an understatement and if you have played the first game, you know what to expect. Your reflexes will be tested as you run, jump, wall-run and slide towards enemies that will one-hit kill you if you let them. Being on the constant move, using shift to slow down time and shunt around bullets, or block and reflecting them with your katana will keep Jack alive. If you time a block right, you’ll do a gruesome finishing move, which is the only way to kill the enemies like the Shinobi. Other times you’ll need to shuriken them to stun, then grapple into their face to finish them with the katana.
Jack steadily gains access to a variety of abilities and upgrades to defeat enemies, however it’s the trusty katana that does the heavy slicing. Your grappling hook will help you access higher angles of attack and progression, while the shuriken can stun enemies allowing you to close the gap. Ghostrunner 2 features a variety of platforming challenges once you clear an area and these have you navigating through a series of rings or shooting objects with the shuriken to beat a timer. You are graded with bronze, silver or gold times and provided data and memory shards as a reward. Data is used to purchase upgrade chips, and adding memory cards allows you to equip more chips. These are unlocked through gameplay and spent in the GR augmentation unit back at the Interface Council HQ where you meet up with characters Zoe, Saul, and Connor.
There are some new environmental elements you can use in your favour like exploding barrels, destructible walls, while other times you’ll need to try avoiding oncoming trains on rails or lasers beams that you’ll need to grapple away to avoid a swift death. There are also new enemy types that behave uniquely dependent on the skills used against them. I died so many times due to the instant-kill nature of the game and making silly mistakes, but there were always a couple of paths to take that if I was constantly dying going one way, I could try different tactics going another. Holding down shift may not save you, but it buys you a second or two to think of an escape route.
The player progression system has been redone from the first game. Using data to purchase upgrade chips, you then need to place them on your motherboard. For the chips to work, you require a specific amount of memory, and this can be increased with memory shards. You can swap upgrade chips around though each column of the motherboard can only take one type of chip. This gives Jack several new abilities in Ghostrunner 2 that enhance his ability to slow down time, stunning enemies with a shuriken, deflecting projectiles back to the enemy, and more. These new abilities give you more options for defeating enemies and completing the platforming challenges.
There are a heap of collectibles and memory chips to try collect in each level, and this slowed the pace of the game down nicely where you could think methodically about how to overcome the puzzle in front of you. Some blockages will free up as you progress the main mission in that area, while others will require you to look around for alternate ways into the items. There’s no large map of the area, so you rely on the icons on the radar in the top right of the screen, and the icons will have arrows if you are above or below them.
Two cool new things occur in certain parts of the story. First is where you gain access to a chair that you plug into, like in The Matrix, and run a program called Roguerunner.exe. This is a pile of simulated runs where you need to parkour and platform your way through challenges, allowing you to practice and perfect the high-speed manouvres you need in the main campaign. It was a good change of pace if I was struggling to clear a mission or just wanted a break from the story.
The second, and by far the coolest addition to Ghostrunner 2 is the introduction of a motorbike, and this takes the high-speed action to another level. It’s particularly amazing when you’re hurtling along, need to jump off the bike to avoid collision with an obstacle, then grapple back onto it to continue at light speed. It’s insanely good fun those levels are ones I repeated, not only to do better and lessen my death counter, but just to enjoy hooning around on the bike.
Overall, Ghostrunner 2 is a brilliant sequel that has improved the fast-paced action and stylish visuals of the original and introduces new gameplay mechanics to diversify combat and platforming action. The upgrade chip and memory card progression system allows you to swap and change ability enhancements to suit your playstyle, and the Roguerunner.exe function enables you to practice and hone your skills. If you enjoyed the first game, then you will get a lot out of this amazing sequel.
This review utilised a key provided by Diva Agency and Ghostrunner 2 will launch on October 26, 2023, on PC, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.