Ghostrunner combines its frenetic first-person sword combat with incredibly fluid movement. Your character is always running, but you can also slide and wall run similar to Mirror’s Edge or Titanfall. Traversing the environments in this way feels buttery smooth and sets you up for some incredibly stylish kills. And when you do finally, brutally slash an enemy in two, the satisfying display rivals 2016’s DOOM reboot.Techno-sabers and cybernetic gadgetry aside, one of the most useful abilities is a dash. Not only does it let you zip forward momentarily, but it’s also useful mid-air for crossing gaps or grabbing ledges. But if you hold this ability, you’ll invoke a “sensory boost” which temporarily slows down time and enemy movement. When paired with a left or right strafe, you can effectively dodge incoming fire and close the gap on your enemies. It took me a bit of practice to master this, but once I did I felt unstoppable.
Later in my demo I gained a grappling hook which adds yet another layer of complexity to the platforming puzzles. Speaking with the developers at One More Level, they explained this cadence of ability unlocks are tied to story progress. For example, eventually, you’ll be able to deflect bullets back at enemies or slice through incoming fire with a well-timed button press. Each of these abilities opens up new strategies for a highly replayable experience.
Though I only tangled with a single enemy type during my demo, One More Level confirmed there are many different enemy types you’ll encounter as you journey up the tower. For instance, some enemies also wield swords and move similarly to your character, which will definitely make for some interesting showdowns.
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Ghostrunner’s story is delivered through an A.I. implanted in your body, referred to only as the “Whisper in your head” during my demo. After each story mission is completed, you’ll have a chance to rest in a hub area before ascending into the next section of the tower. These areas act as a safe haven where most of the story beats will take place, without the danger of enemy reinforcements.
Looking at it, you wouldn’t know this is being developed by a small studio of about 20 people. Its environments evoke a Blade Runner aesthetic with large, worn down industrial buildings and hazy neon lights that rival many modern, triple-A experiences. And to take it a step further, I was told Ghostrunner will support ray tracing on NVIDIA GeForce RTX-enabled graphics cards.
And though there’s no official announcement that it’s going to come to PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X at this time, the technology and visuals certainly seem like a good fit.I’m eager to see how the gameplay evolves throughout Ghostrunner, and if developer One More Level can deliver a meaningful experience, instead of just throwing more enemies into the mix. My biggest question after my demo is just how much impact Ghostrunner’s story can carry. During my demo, I was so concentrated on the moment-to-moment gameplay and trying not to die that I wasn’t able to gather much of what was happening as I moved throughout each section.
Currently, Ghostrunner is planned for release in 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. But if you’re hungry for more cyberpunk action in the meantime, check out our picks of some of the best games in the genre.