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Ghostrunner 2 Review

Ghostrunner 2 Review

Disclaimer: This is a spoiler-free review for Ghostrunner 2, but straight off the bat, I'd like to mention that not 20 minutes into the game, you receive a spoiler for the ending of the original entry. As such, I will also be mentioning things that happen in the first game as casually as this one did in order to help with the fluidity of the article. If you want to play Ghostrunner 2 but haven't tried the original, I heavily encourage that you try the first entry before you move on to its sequel so you can have the full experience.

The cybervoid has been terminated, the architect has been overcome, and the Climbers reign victorious over The Tower after defeating the tyrant ruler Keymaster Mara. But not all is well in The Tower, as a new cult arises from The Outside and a new foe threatens the remnants of humankind — but a familiar hero will be tasked with saving the day. It's up to Ghostrunner Jack to take the blade a year after the events and save Dharma from Ahriman and foes beyond.

In Ghostrunner 2, you take control of everyone's favourite Ghostrunner a year after the events of the original game. Now, with a new threat, it's up to you to face numerous new foes with a title that expands on the original narrative, and it does so massively. Even just a couple of levels in, you can tell that the budget and scope of this sequel are far more extensive than the original, and I'm all here for it.

Ghostrunner 2 First Screenshot

Notably, I wasn't much of a fan of the original's narrative, as it was rather bland. In my review of it, I found that the experience felt almost bloated by the apparent clichés and was far too predictable for its own good. This time around, One More Level impresses with more focused storytelling that feels superior in every way from the original — from actual characters you can look at to optional dialogue choices that, although they don't affect anything, still add more immersion and a sense of agency over Jack.

It definitely isn't a narrative masterpiece, but that isn't Ghostrunner 2's focus. Unlike the original, however, I genuinely cared for most of the characters and their evolution in the overall narrative scope, and it enrichened the experience and evolved it from a one-hit-kill, high-octane title. It served to give me more of a purpose rather than slaying through my enemies, it gave me an actual connection to the characters and world, and it added a sense of urgency for those I cared for whenever danger presented itself.

Thankfully, the narrative isn't the only upgrade that Ghostrunner 2 has from the original, and that's already a tall praise considering how great the first felt. The usual gameplay elements are still there, with the main focus being that you take control of Jack, a Ghostrunner who is tasked with slaying all of the enemies of Dharma. You can kill everything in one hit, but the same kindness is returned to you, as you'll have to overcome legions of foes with several attacking you and shooting you at the same time.

Ghostrunner 2 Second Screenshot 2

Don't judge me — clear images of this game are hard to get!

The only thing that Ghostunner 2 doesn't improve upon the original is enemy variety, as you'll find the same enemies that you fought time and again throughout the first experience, with few that are wholly unique to this entry. Though this comes as a bit of a shocker, it isn't necessarily something I didn't expect to a certain extent, considering the first had a few enemy varieties as well. While this would be a complaint for any other title, the Ghostrunner franchise is unique in the fact that it benefits from fewer enemy types, and I found this to be a good decision, albeit likely controversial.

Instead of fighting varying types of enemies, you'll face 18 levels with numerous combinations that feel fresh and enjoyable. One More Level listened to the feedback of otherwise obnoxious variations that existed in the original — in the form of the Mech and the Sniper — and either built on them (in the case of the former) or outright removed them (in the case of the latter). Not being fixated or held down by previous enemies that weren't as enjoyable to deal with unshackled Ghostrunner 2 and let the team work with what they do best: high-octane gameplay. And they nailed it.

The most prominent change that comes from the original is that now you can actually use your abilities as freely as you want without fear of needing them in a harder encounter or the one immediately after. Though a limitation of Energy still exists to stop you from throwing your shuriken everywhere and killing everyone, it instantly refills once the encounter is over, meaning you can use it repeatedly at your leisure with each new group of foes you face. This change alone revolutionises Ghostrunner as a whole, as you can now properly go into fights with your most vital assets without having to fear that you'll want to use them in others.

Ghostrunner 2 Third Screenshot

Some of the older skills from the original are missing in this sequel, though most were instead changed to become Ultimate ones, which work as a cooldown-based attack that is much stronger than the normal abilities. Though I did miss Surge, its applications were few in the original title anyway, and the ones that are available were amplified, such as the much-needed upgrade to the Shuriken that stuns stronger enemies and lets you grapple to them in order to neutralise them with ease. This was the Quality-of-Life improvement needed to deal with some of the tougher enemies, like the Mechs, and it made gameplay so much more enjoyable, as hitting foes with Shuriken and grappling to them was gratifying and attributed to the fast-paced combat.

Upgrades also received a massive overhaul, where now you can select from 48 upgrades you can choose from, and you can slot them into your Motherboard, upgrading it by finding purple collectibles that are often placed in your path (meaning you don't need to explore to get them). Notably, the upgrade that shows collectibles on your radar has become a permanent ability, and you can use various upgrades from a certain branch, which gives you a LOT of variety on how you want to play. My favourite builds were those that built up your Combo meter and gave you bonuses for it, such as increasing movement speed, which made running around the world and manoeuvring around hostiles very exhilarating.

My favourite addition is the bike that you get to take advantage of. Though you only get it for a few levels (which was a disappointment, considering it seems like a major feature in trailers), whenever it was available, it made the levels so much more enjoyable. You will get it either for linear, race-based worlds where you need to keep your speed up and make it past obstacles without stopping or larger open-area worlds that require you to get from point A to point B in a mostly barren wasteland. These levels were confusing, as I sometimes didn't find my way around getting somewhere with the bike but controlling and using it in combat was so fun that I didn't really mind getting lost.

Ghostrunner 2 Fourth Screenshot Bike

This leads me to the final point I want to make about the gameplay elements and overall upgrades that you get from the original: bosses. These have received a massive overhaul, as you'll face five of them throughout your playthrough, each with unique elements and mechanics that are genuinely fun and unique within each other. While Ghostrunner bosses were okay at times — with some being overall underwhelming — this entry gave them a larger focus, and they are just great overall. You won't have to deal with something as difficult as T-073-M, but you still have parkour-based bosses, battle bosses, and — yes — even a bike boss that I enjoyed fighting a little too much.

This sequel is just about as long as the original, bolstering a 10-hour playtime that involved talking to everyone, finding some collectibles, and failing to die as few times as possible. This was a bit disappointing because I loved the experience so much, but I would prefer a well-packed short title filled with fun rather than a drawn-out experience for 20 hours, and Ghostrunner 2 nails its length for the most part. You get more to play around with and more excuses to replay the game with various builds and battles that you likely won't only fight once, which will boost your playtime to a little beyond that for completionists.

Performance-wise, I did find a slight issue with some of the levels, especially once an update for DirectX 12 was released. Now, I'm using a beast of a machine packed with an RTX 4080 and an AMD Ryzen 7 5700X, so performance dips were a tad disappointing. That said, these were few and far between, with only about three different areas giving me some stutters due to it being packed with so much to fight against (lasers, foes, shots, etc). The lag only consisted of frame drops as well, and no area was unplayable past its original dip.

Ghostunner 2 Fifth Screenshot

There is nothing that Ghostrunner 2 didn't improve upon its predecessor, and, truth be told, there is little that Ghostrunner 2 did wrong at all. Though it's a short title and I had very few performance issues, it otherwise managed to amaze me in every area it tackled. It is an exemplary sequel that improves upon the original in every way, and if you liked the first entry into the Ghostrunner franchise, then there is no reason not to pick its sequel up.

10.00/10 10

Ghostrunner 2 (Reviewed on Windows)

Outstanding. Why do you not have this game already?

Ghostrunner 2 is an exemplary sequel, improving upon the original in every way. With better Energy systems, delightful and responsive bike levels, fantastic bosses, and the same quick-paced gameplay from the original, it's a no-brainer for anyone who remotely enjoyed the first.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

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