Ghostrunner 2 — Review
Poles favor cyberpunk settings and align in releases. Cyberpunk 2077 and Ghostrunner both released almost simultaneously, and they coincide again as Cyberpunk gets an expansion, accompanied by the arrival of Ghostrunner II. However, each approaches the cyberpunk world differently, specifically, Ghostrunner transforms us into the character of a cyberpunk ninja, leaping through the city to eliminate enemies.
If you haven't played Ghostrunner, it's like an action game that combines skill challenges with puzzle elements. The puzzles often involve navigating a small level, defeating enemies, and occasionally pressing buttons, all to progress further. It requires skill and sometimes luck since enemies shoot or slash at you, and one hit is fatal. However, not always knowing where the danger comes from can be nerve-wracking, requiring a restart of the entire section. On the other hand, you can dispatch enemies swiftly with your sword, except for the bosses.
While the first game outlined these options, the sequel delves deeper, introducing new possibilities. The campaign is no longer limited to 3-4 hours; it can take roughly twice as long, depending on how well you handle gameplay and how many times you need to replay levels. It might take you not just 6 hours but 20 hours or more, or you might give up and never complete it.
In the game, you once again assume the role of GR-74, a cybernetic assassin known as Jack, the last active ghostrunner designed for special missions. In the previous installment, you, with Jack, eliminated the tyrant Keymaster, ruler of Dharma Tower, the last city in the world and a cluster of gigantic skyscrapers, which currently serve as humanity's only refuge in the post-apocalyptic world. However, humanity faces a new obstacle, and you are sent back into action. This time, a gang of AI cyber ninjas threatens it.
Equipped with your katana, you navigate the city streets, specifically on platforms somewhere on the fiftieth floor among 300-story skyscrapers. You leap between them, slide along ledges, employ various parkour tricks to walk on walls, and utilize attractions like magnets or air currents for movement. Falling down is not an option, nor is letting yourself be shot. It won't be easy once again. You need to run, jump, and, most importantly, use your katana to block bullets, although you won't be able to block them all. Various types of enemies are introduced, including those with shields, and if you think the early levels are challenging, you haven't seen anything yet.
A positive aspect of the new game is that, while you start among skyscrapers, you gradually traverse various virtual environments, even more diverse than in the previous installment. Additionally, you explore factories in the deserts surrounding the city and various underground sections, enhancing the game's diversity and liveliness.
The gameplay is now more dynamic, featuring levels centered not only on jumping and slicing enemies but also incorporating additional puzzle elements and levels focused on exploration and finding paths. The introduction of new motorcycle sections provides a pleasant break, offering a well-executed change in gameplay. It might be regrettable that the game doesn't have more such innovations.
In addition to standard enemies, you'll face a series of bosses, ranging from smaller to gigantic ones. Dealing with them will require steady nerves and repetition. Inter-level conversations with the team at the base and challenges scattered throughout the levels, such as time trials, further enrich the gaming experience.
The game introduces progressive upgrades to abilities, the collection of new options adding some depth and gradually expanding gameplay possibilities. Features like the return of collectible stars contribute to the overall experience. While there could have been more, if you enjoy this style of gameplay, these additions should be sufficient. The underlying story, though simple, might be satisfying for enthusiasts of the genre.
The visuals are mostly standard, occasionally surprising with reflections or design. Expect a better standard, with visual elements repeating slightly, even as you progress through different environments. Nevertheless, there's a noticeable improvement over the first installment in every aspect. It's important that it functions quickly and practically without issues, a surprising feat given the prevalent bugs in many large games.
However, what detracts from the graphics, or at least somewhat diminishes the overall impression, are the inter-level scenes and character conversations. These segments are weaker, static, and pale in comparison to the game's dynamism. While the game had a limited budget, making allowances, this aspect of the presentation didn't quite align. Yet, what the game excels at, where the developers truly shine, are the enclosed spaces between skyscrapers, fast-paced scenes, slowdowns in levels, or the gory effects when slashing enemies. These moments are a highlight.
Perhaps, considering the demanding nature of the game, the developers could have refined the controls and the reactions of enemies. It didn't feel precise enough when I needed to jump, land, slide, move quickly, and jump again along walls to eliminate enemies. One mistake, and the whole sequence had to be redone. The precision was lacking, making it often feel like a matter of chance.
Ghostrunner II isn't a game for everyone; it demands dexterity, attention, and even luck. It's designed for the constant repetition of the same parts of levels until you succeed. If you enjoy this style of gameplay, it will be interesting for you; otherwise, it's better to skip it. Additionally, be aware that it's a smaller and shorter game, priced at 40 euros with appropriate content. Don't expect a deeper story or elaborate scenes. What you can anticipate is navigating through individual scenes with enemy slashing, dying, complemented by puzzle elements and motorcycle sequences. Personally, I found the unnecessary difficulty bothersome, coupled with a lack of effort to elevate the entire game to a higher level.