Hands-On: Ghostrunner

Hands-On: Ghostrunner

by March 1, 2020

There’s something inherently satisfying about games that feature smooth, powerful movement mechanics. When you’re soaring above a stage or flinging yourself from platform to platform, you can almost feel invincible, and the best games of this type leverage that feeling to fully effect. One such game that shows serious promise in that regard is Ghostrunner, a futuristic first-person adventure that’s as thrilling as it is challenging, and we got our hands on it at PAX East. Here’s how it went.

Ghostrunner can best be described as Mirror’s Edge-meets-Superhot. Your character, a cyber-warrior with bio-implants and body modifications, is tasked with scaling a massive tower that houses a gritty cyberpunk society and taking down its ruler, the Keymaster. To do this, you take advantage of a bevy of movement mechanics, including wall-running, climbing, grappling, dashing, and stopping time to dodge enemy bullets. All of this is in service of getting in close to your enemies and taking them down ninja-style with a seriously powerful sword. Movement and level exploration is incredibly fluid and satisfying to pull off; stringing together multiple tricky jumps and traversal moves in sequence before finishing off an enemy with a flourish feels damn good. If you’ve ever played games like Mirror’s Edge or Titanfall, you’ll feel right at home here.

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The freedom you have to pull off long chains of complex movements is complemented by the demo’s open level design. Stage sections usually feature multiple pathways and options for you to take on challenges, which is helpful when you get stuck somewhere and want to approach it from a different angle. This flexibility will surely come in handy, because if our demo was anything to go by, the game isn’t easy. Everything that can attack you kills you in one shot, sending you back to the beginning of the section you’re working on. Thankfully, death puts you back into the action quickly, and rarely does messing up feel like anything other than your fault. While our demo only featured one enemy type, developer One More Game promises that more are on the way, including a shielded enemy type that you must flank to destroy.

Ghostrunner has captured player and critic attention since its announcement, and after getting our hands on it, it’s not hard to understand why. The demo was fast-paced and addictive, and there’s a lot of potential in the premise here. If the final product can milk the core gameplay loop for all its worth and dial up its unique features to make the game stand out, this could easily be a breakout hit; personally, I’d love to see some sort of time attack mode leveraging all of these great traversal mechanics. With any luck, this will be one to add to your collection if you’re looking for a challenging, fluid action title. We’re looking forward to hearing more as the months progress.

Ghostrunner races onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC later this year.