I felt sympathy for cyborg ninja Jack as the red “Game Over” screen flashed across my computer monitor for the umpteenth time while playing Ghostrunner 2.
What went wrong this time? Did I mistime a jump and plunge Jack into an endless abyss? Did I wall-jump directly into an enemy’s attack, get too close to an explosive barrel, or steer Jack’s (glorious) speedy motorcycle into a wall? Truth is, it was all of that and so much more.
Don’t Fear The Reaper
As someone who never played the original Ghostrunner game, I wasn’t prepared for the difficulty curve that came with the bouncy, action-packed gameplay of the Ghostrunner 2 demo where one hit kills both you and the enemy.
But over my brief playtime, I managed to master Jack’s abilities, defeat the nefarious cyborg ninja enemies that plagued the demo’s level, and steer Jack’s motorcycle to success.
The game continues Jack’s story from the original game, except this time he’s heading out of Dharma Tower – the last refuge for all mankind – and into the post-apocalyptic world beyond. Before he can do so, Jack’s got to make his way through the Tower’s Cyberpunk city setting towards a motorcycle that will give him that much-needed boost to get away and chase a baddie.
Dharma Tower is a neon-lit metropolis, and I scaled rooftops, ran along walls, grappled over large gaps, and slid and rail ground my way through the Cyberpunk city setting. Jack’s fast and responsive controls made it easy to perform astonishing feats of traversal through the city, but while it was simple to pull off these amazing parkour stunts, it was just as easy to send Jack plummeting to his death by mistiming or calculating a jump.
Traversal, in fact, was tricky, as I had to constantly keep a watch on my surroundings for anything to help me, but there was a lot of satisfaction in seamlessly moving between rooftops and over large gaps without dying (Yes, I was eventually able to do this!).
Fail To Success
Ghostrunner 2 requires you to try and try again whenever you fail, and I found that the game usually gave multiple ways to tackle enemies throughout the demo, so if I died while grappling into an enemy from above, I could always try sneaking around to the enemy for an advantage instead.
While the numerous deaths – the Ghostrunner 2 demo was very generous with its checkpoints, thankfully – can make for a frustrating experience for some, it was a joy for me. Completing sections of the demo required me to memorise enemy locations and work out the best method of defeating them by analysing the environments and how they could be of use to me in combat.
Jack’s katana is the primary weapon used in Ghostrunner 2, allowing you to slice enemies in half with swift slashes, block attacks, and even perform perfect parries to dispatch those dodge-prone, stronger enemies.
That’s not all I had to play with, though, as Jack can throw shurikens at enemies. Most die in a single hit, but others can dodge them and the more tanky enemies shake them off like they’re nothing.
Once used, I had to wait for the shurikens to recharge via combat, so I had to be careful when using them. Luckily, it was easy to take out groups of enemies in the demo as developer One More Level graciously placed them beside barrels that explode with one throw.
Shurikens can also be used to solve puzzles. In one instance, I had to push a trampoline-like object through a laser-filled hole in the wall by using a force-push ability, and then jump on the trampoline to reach a second laser hole to throw a shuriken to hit the switch behind it and unlock the door that blocked my progression.
There weren’t a lot of these puzzle segments in the demo I played, but they were a welcomed break from the core frantic and adrenaline-pumping gameplay. These puzzles mostly progressed the demo, but there were a few that unlocked short side routes I could take towards collectables, a nice little side activity for you to keep your eyes on.
Jack’s Got Zoomies
To further break up the core gameplay, Ghostrunner 2 has motorcycle segments. Around two-thirds into the demo, Jack uncovered the motorcycle he was making his way towards throughout the level.
It led into the funnest part of my time with the game, where Jack was tasked with chasing a villain through the tower, and had to remain close enough to avoid losing the enemy’s signal – a difficult feat, as you need to keep your eyes on the tracker as well as your surroundings for obstacles and switches.
What resulted was me steering the motorcycle across a highway of sorts while avoiding obstacles, smashing into switches to open locked doors just meters ahead, zooming past patterned lasers, and using the cycle’s booster to propel Jack up ramps and across giant gaps.
During the motorcycle segment of the demo, I had to steer the motorcycle up walls and through giant pipes, turning left, right and piloting the vehicle upside down. Were there lots of deaths? Of course, but it was some of the most action-packed fun I’ve had for a while.
Upon reaching Jack’s destination and dropping out of Dharma Tower, the demo ended, leaving me wanting more and looking forward to exploring the vast wasteland beyond Jack’s home.
Ghostrunner 2 releases October 26th for PC via Steam and PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles.