Review: ‘Ghostrunner 2’ is punishing and precise but oh-so-satisfying

It’s night time in Dharma Tower… it’s all the time night time within the cyberfuture. As I dash alongside a wall I spot a bunch of enemies under me. I plunge downwards and casually dodge an vitality blast, bisecting the gunman with my cyberkatana as I land. There’s no time to savor the second. A blast of blue fireplace within the nook of my imaginative and prescient. Activate Sensory Enhance. Time slows to a crawl as I bat the barrage away with my blade. As he frantically reloads my acceleration increase module kicks in. I fly in the direction of him and see the concern in his widening eyes. One second he’s a person, the following a nice pink mist.

A bipedal safety droid stays, spewing horizontal blasts of loss of life. I slide below the primary wave, vault the second and toss a cybershuriken into its guts, beautiful it. A nanosecond later I spike my projectile with a cyber-grapple and yank myself ahead, blade first. In superb slow-mo I watch the 2 halves of the droid spiral by way of the air, electrical sparks slowly blossoming into my very own non-public fireworks show. Time to hop on my glossy cyberbike, burn some rubber on the cyberroad and leap into the CyberVoid.

Sharper than a cyber-razor lower

Ghostrunner II
Picture through 505 Video games

That is Ghostrunner 2. In 2020 I fell head over heels for the primary recreation, which mixed acrobatic first-person motion with blistering one-hit-kill fight, like an unlikely hybrid of Titanfall 2 and Tremendous Meat Boy. It was brutal, unforgiving, and required equal measures of endurance and reflexes, however conquering it was supremely satisfying.

Now the sequel is right here. First impressions are that that is merely extra of the identical. You start the sport again within the dirty, neon-soaked Dharma Tower, whose structure consists of gigantic open areas with platforms dangling in simply the best place for a Ghostrunner to bounce off. The varied enemy sorts all return, as do the shuriken, shadow and tempest skills. There are some recent wrinkles, like having the ability to actively block assaults and a brand new talent tree with unlockable perks, however none of those are particularly game-changing.

Extra helpful are the brand new “Ultimates,” which step by step cost throughout fight and, if deployed accurately, can finish a fight encounter earlier than it’s even begun. They’re arguably somewhat overpowered (notably in case you improve their length and charging pace) however in a recreation that’s in any other case robust as nails I’m completely satisfied to slap the occasional “win this struggle now” button.

Ghostrunner II
Picture through 505 Video games

Regardless of these new additions, the primary third of Ghostrunner 2 feels extra like a DLC than a sequel, although given how nice the core method is, it’s troublesome to get too upset about extra of the identical. Then, lastly, issues take a quantum leap ahead.

There are few video games that wouldn’t be improved by you getting a cranked-up Akira-model bike to zip round on. When you’ve acquired this metal horse throbbing between your legs, Ghostrunner 2 lastly opens as much as new territory, blasting you out of the gloomy Dharma Tower and into the ruins of the outdated world.

Right here, the linear design is basically deserted in favor of one thing akin to the jeep part of Uncharted 4. You’re positioned in a big open map stuffed with winding roads and given three targets to achieve, which includes you jetting off over ramps and darting by way of freeways dotted with rusted-out autos to achieve them, earlier than some on-foot exploration and fight. Ghostrunner 2 is, for essentially the most half, a tightly choreographed recreation with little purpose to cease and odor the roses, so it’s very good to be let off the leash and proceed at your personal tempo.

The bike is so enjoyable – and the rollercoaster ranges designed for it so thrilling – that it’s a disgrace it’s not in additional of the sport. It even comes with its personal distinctive mechanics, with my favourite the power to leap off at excessive pace, fly excessive into the air after which grapple again onto it with out lacking a beat. Then once more, even on foot, the sport is thrilling, notably in its advanced multi-stage boss battles, the Nintendo-esque puzzling within the CyberVoid, and the candy satisfaction that comes with the gradual mastering of all issues Ghostrunner-y.

Ointment, meet flies

Ghostrunner II
Picture through 505 Video games

At this level, you may most likely inform that I had a blast. Even so, there are some wrinkles. Like its predecessor, the plot is totally forgettable, and it’s not helped by essential story info being delivered as voiceover throughout gameplay. Let’s simply say it’s arduous to deal with the particulars of transhumanist philosophy whereas negotiating a fiendish midair impediment course. New to the sequel are interstitial visits to a base the place you may chat together with your assist staff, although they not often have a lot of notice to say.

There are additionally some outright bugs that I hope will likely be squashed by a launch day patch. The sport hard-locked on me twice and I needed to restart it by way of the PlayStation 5 menu. There are additionally occasional sound and graphics bugs, like sure results blaring incessantly till the sport masses a brand new space, or a post-boss cutscene taking part in out suspended over a bottomless void. All pre-rendered video within the recreation can also be extremely compressed and appears outright horrible on a contemporary TV. None of that’s game-ruining, however Ghostrunner 2 is in any other case so slick that these flaws stand out.

Extra basically, the essential nature of the sport inevitably means it’s going to be divisive. That is ‘Glass Cannon: The Sport,’ and it’s totally doable to complete a degree together with your loss of life rely in triple digits. Anybody with hand coordination points goes to be not noted within the chilly, and sadly, this sequel ditches the accessibility choices that had been finally patched into the primary recreation. I respect the purity of the fight, however let’s face it, one participant’s thrilling problem is one other’s infuriating slog.

All that stated, there’s nothing else in gaming fairly like Ghostrunner. Even my jaded gaming coronary heart sings after I handle to ninja my manner by way of a brutal fight encounter with out struggling a single loss of life, leaving me feeling impossibly cool and lethal. This sequel builds upon the stable foundations of the unique, and positively reeks of developer confidence and expertise. I would like extra, and I would like it now.

This overview relies on the PlayStation 5 model of the sport. A replica was offered to us for overview by 505 Video games.