In a dystopian future with character cyberpunk, it is not strange to see an authoritarian tyrant emerge to dominate with an iron fist and total control of the streets and technologies of large metropolises dotted with neon lights and large signs.
It is not even strange that a group of rebels stand up against this tyrant to take back their autonomy and freedom: what happens, however, when the tyrant himself manages to bring the hero to his knees to the point of his death?
According to Ghostrunner, it happens that the revolution mixes with revenge, and it is a high-speed revenge, made up of many jumps and many sword strokes.
Parkour and swords
The introduction of Ghostrunner, a title born from the combined efforts of One More Level, Slipgate ironworks e 3D Realms leaves little room for interpretation and immediately makes clear the abilities of the character interpreted, from which the title of the game derives: the Ghostrunner (perhaps the last) is in fact a terrifying death machine, an automaton as agile as a ninja and gifted of extraordinary abilities thanks to very advanced technologies with which he can maintain order and balance in the hyper-technological city under his jurisdiction, however all his skills are insufficient to dominate the antagonist, a woman known by the name of Keymaster, who he gets rid of the Ghostrunner with relative ease, leaving him to his doom.
Or at least this is what he hoped for, given that the Ghostrunner has miraculously survived and healed by a group of rebels: so, once awakened with only the voice of a mysterious AI in his head to accompany him, the Ghostrunner will have to make his way to the city and regain control of it.
Beyond the opening video, Ghostrunner wastes no time in throwing the player in the middle of the action: from the moment we start a new game, in fact, the title will immediately give us control of our mechanical assassin by introducing us quickly to the mechanics and to the game controls, immediately revealing its nature as a first-person platformer that follows the philosophy of titles such as Hotline Miami and Superhot, where we will be asked to use every skill of the Ghostrunner (unlocking some along our path) to overcome the obstacles that arise they will parry in front.
Ghostrunner's basic rule is simple: taking a hit will cost us instant death and a checkpoint reboot. This means that it will be vital to play intelligently with a precise mastery of the game mechanics, from the beginning: quick reflexes and decision-making skills will in fact be tested by the very high speed of action exhibited by the fluid and agile gameplay, online. with the agility and gracefulness of the protagonist, armed only with a katana with which he will mutilate the enemies who will try to block his path avoiding the dangerous blows and bypassing their defenses.
Do not look down
The levels will initially require only the ability to run along walls, sprint in midair, slide and use the occasional grappling hook, but over the course of the progression both the amount of obstacles and enemies will increase, as well as their variety: the game in fact will alternate sections of traversal and combat, with the former based on the reasoned use of movement skills and in keeping track of one's surroundings, while the latter will require you to apply your agility to be able to get close enough to the target to be able to slice it in a well placed.
All in a rather arduous package, which leaves room for few errors, but which makes every success satisfactory as well as solving the theoretical puzzle represented by each area without stopping for even a moment, darting between the futuristic structures of the levels and mowing down enemies before they even notice the Ghostrunner's presence.
The game framework therefore implies a lot of trial and error and, fortunately, experimentation is favored here by an excellent checkpoint system without loading times, enhancing the failure in the learning process and perfecting one's approach to the game levels.
Difficult, but not too difficult, Ghostrunner's difficulty curve is well balanced by the gradual introduction of each new obstacle or enemy: the first encounters with them will always be marked and limited to give the player enough time to adapt to their functioning before integrate them coherently with all the other elements of the game, avoiding letting the player feel cornered or overly powerful and, in doing so, preventing an experience that is too frustrating or boring.
Severe but fair
This does not mean that the player will not die a hundred times in each level: the feeling is that of being in front of the first person cyberpunk version of Super Meat Boy and, however, it is always clear what is the cause of the failure in a section. in order to allow the player to correct their actions in a consistent way, without resorting to gimmicks such as ambushes, inaccurate hitboxes and other usually more annoying elements.
To all are added a series of skills and options obtained during the continuation of the adventure, both environmental and individual, which can be optimized from a customization screen in which we can organize upgrade chips in a Tetris-style grid.
From a visual and musical point of view Ghostrunner does not disappoint at all, bombarding the senses with all the aesthetic elements typical of the cyberpunk trend accompanied by appropriate synthwave that keeps the game action alive and dynamic.
Accompanying some sections there will be several voiceovers which, together with some scattered objects hidden along the levels, will contribute to the world building and the progression of the plot.
Plot that, to be honest, is more an accompaniment to the gameplay than the real focus of the title, without going too far in doing shocking or unpredictable things, but giving just enough to push the player to continue.
The lack of a brilliant narrative, however, is more than adequately balanced by the quality of the game and, net of some drop in the rhythms in the rare puzzle sections of virtual cyberspace and in starting to optimize the power grid that, given the frenetic pace of the game , may appear in contrast to downtime, Ghostrunner remains a well-built and satisfying experience from start to finish.