As we have entered October, we have officially hit the prime time in terms of video game releases. And the closer to the end of the year we get, the bigger the releases. And among all the Call of Dutys, Assassin’s Creeds, and Cyberpunks, some smaller titles tend to get lost in the traffic. And for some titles, such as the recently released Ghostrunner, that is incredibly unfortunate. Because this genuinely brilliant title, has and will be overshadowed by second rate drivel such as the rather pathetic Assassin’s Creed Legion.
Ghostrunner, thanks to its rather lacklustre marketing campaign on the side of its publisher, 505 Games, can come across as a rather confusing, or in the least ambiguous game. Some may assume it is a first-person Hotline Miami, other may think that it is an Unreal Tournament clone, whereas others may think that it is nothing more than a cheap attempt at a free ride to success at the back of Cyber Punk’s hype. But in truth, Ghostrunner, is much more than that.
Ghostrunner, unlike you may have assumed, is not a first-person shooter. Sure, it plays entirely through the lens of first-person perspective, but, and it is a big but, there are no guns for you to use. As the only weapon, which is with you from the very beginning, all the way until the final credits, is your trusty Katana. But unlike the Japanese blade of Shadow Warrior, Ghostrunners weeb slicer has more uses, than just hacking and slashing.
Just like most futuristic games featuring swords, Ghostrunner allows you to deflect bullets, and with the right upgrades, deflect them back at your enemies. However, the deflections aren’t automatic, nor are they an active ability, because just like everything within the ghost runner, deflections have to be done manually. And while deflecting a borderline hitscan projectiles, on time and in varying patterns can be daunting at first, then within the hour from your first deflection, this will become the second nature. And this is all thanks to Ghostrunners impeccably responsive controls, and downright incredible gameplay.
When I first played Titanfall 2, I was in awe of how seamless and incredibly its movement was. And when I sat down to play Ghostrunner, I was downright shook – because Ghostrunner’s gameplay from movement through combat is miles ahead of Titanfall 2, or in fact any other game I have ever played. Ghostrunner’s movement is unfathomably perfect, that I am still in disbelief that it is actually real. From sprinting, through phase-shifting and grappling, all the down to wall running and dodging, it is so incredibly fluid, exciting, and satisfying that it has left me slack-jawed. And the title’s superb controls – even on console – only further elevate it.
Ghostrunner is clearly a title which has been developed with PC users in mind. But One More Level, has done such an incredible job of adapting it for consoles, that you would not be blamed for thinking that Ghostrunner has been developed for consoles, and ported onto PC. The default control scheme is incredibly intuitive, the response time is awe-inspiring, and analogue stick aiming is executed so incredibly well, that it puts first-person shooters such as The Hunt: Showdown and Warface to an absolute and utter shame.
I played Ghostrunner on PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 4 alone. And as it is an indie, photorealistic shooter, I was fully expecting it run below-par – mainly due to the rapid pace of the combat, and the high detail of the visuals. But to my surprise, Ghostrunner, is so well optimised that it runs on PlayStation 4 flawlessly. There is no drop in framerate, there are not stutter, nor is any screen tearing present. And it doesn’t matter how many hostiles or special effects Ghostrunner throws in your face, because it is always smooth like glass. And I don’t entirely know how a lowly indie studio from Poland has managed to achieve that, but if I were a higher-up at Ubisoft, and give them a call. Because the technical prowess of Ghostrunner, and in turn One More Level, makes the vast majority of modern AAA titles look like amateur projects, made by teenagers during IT lessons.
Ghostrunner features a highly detailed, and complex visual art style, which has clearly been created by a team, deeply invested into the cyberpunk scene. Because from derelict and abandoned slums and factories, through sleek cyberspace and high tech facilities, everything feels believable, and feels like a part of a greater, lived-in world. And the way the environment changes along with the hostiles, and the narrative, gives you a true sense from progression, which is absent from titles like The Last of Us 2, or last year’s Assassin’s Creed.
Talking of progression, Ghostrunner features a myriad of active skills and passive abilities which all alter the gameplay insignificant, as well as minor ways. And while all your active skills and abilities are at your constant disposal, then the passive skills, while plentiful, have to be carefully managed, thanks to Ghostrunners rather ingenious upgrade system. Which unlike in all modern AAA titles, is not a skill tree, but rather a circuit board, which you can fill with chips shaped into tetris’esque blocks – some classic like the T or L shapes, and some larger and more elaborate form-factors. But the key is here, that they all cannot be active at the same time, and you constantly have to switch them out, in order to suit your playstyle, and current circumstance.
Ghostrunner is an incredibly fast-paced title, which is heavily reliant on your intuition as well as reaction times, and aggression. And in many ways, it is the ‘Doctor Disrespect The Game’, as it is all about Speed, Violence, and Momentum. And while those three are incredibly important, then they are all just parts of a larger puzzle. As without careful planning, solid decision making, and some rather high-end problem solving – you will not get far. And while the title at hand could be described by some as difficult, and punishing, then in no way, shape, or form could it ever be called unfair. Because at the end of the day, Ghostruner is the game of patterns, and such can be learned, memorised, and turned on their head to your advantage. And this little detail elevates the quality of the overall experience to another level.
Up until this point, Ghost of Tsushima, at least to me, was a clear game of the year winner – as it was, and still is a borderline perfect video game. But just as this year is coming to a close, Ghostrunner has came barging in, kicked the door of the hinges, and proven that it is not over, until the fat lady sings. And now with two months until the end of the year, I can honestly say, with a clear conscience, that Ghostrunner is ‘The Game of The Year’. And Cyberpunk, if it even ends up coming out this calendar year, will have to pull out all the stops in order to get even close to Ghostrunner – and even then, I honestly doubt it will ever be able to match the sheer brilliance of this one of a kind experience.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 10/10
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Replay Value - 10/10
User Review( votes)
Ghostrunner is the best game to hit the streets this year. It is miles ahead of any title to be released this year, and in fact, it is better than the vast majority of games to be released this generation. A one of a kind experience.