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Ghostrunner 2

Ghostrunner 2

Jack Ghostrunner is back with some new tricks, but are they enough to make this action sequel stand out?

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It seems a lot of gamers have become sadists over the past decade or so. A bold claim, but when we look at the amount of people who just love smashing their heads against a brick wall to see it eventually topple, we've got some evidence.

The popularity of the Soulsborne series alone is enough to show people love a real challenge, but very few games compare to the frustration and triumph that you feel when you can instantly be killed by a single enemy strike. Titles like Hotline Miami and the original Ghostrunner linger long in my memory as incredible fast-paced action experiences that achieve a lot in the short hours of gameplay they provide.

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Ghostrunner 2 is the latest in a list of sequels this year that doesn't necessarily attempt to reinvent the wheel, but simply adds to an already-winning formula. Jack is our protagonist once more, protecting Dharma Tower and trying to consolidate power with the Climbers following the death of the Architect. However, soon enough a new threat rises in a group of Ghostrunners known as the Asura.

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There is a lot more done with the story this time around, therefore rather than just have voices in our head during a mission, we also get to return to a hub afterwards in order to get upgrades and chat with some of the Climbers. Some might not like this new approach, as it does offer moments of quiet in between the action that the first game never bothered with, but they give us a chance to get to know the characters and lore of the world a lot better. This new approach to the narrative is bold, and it does pay off for the most part in giving us a much clearer tale, but Ghostrunner 2, like its predecessor, is a rather short game, meaning there's not really enough time to dig into characters or grow attached.

Ghostrunner 2

You're probably not here expecting a deep story that pulls at your heartstrings, though. Ghostrunner 2 is best likened to an action movie, with bombastic set pieces and lightning-fast movement that will have you dying over and over again without annoyance as you figure out the best route around a room full of enemies. Its gameplay structure is largely similar to the first game. You run down a linear parkour section, feeling like a true robot ninja as you jump, dash, and swing your way through the gorgeous surroundings of Dharma Tower before immediately eating a bullet or club to the face in a larger, open area designed to be navigated however you see fit, using speed and verticality to your advantage.

There are no notes on that portion of the game. If you loved Ghostrunner, you'll love Ghostrunner 2 in this regard. It amplifies the original's winning formula without sacrificing the simple greatness of it. Things like the block mechanic and perfect parries might sound small on paper, but they make for a world of difference when it comes to combat and it allows Ghostrunner 2 to have much better bosses than the original game. In Ghostrunner, the bosses were gimmick fights, really, whereas in the sequel we're dealing with something much more akin to a Soulslike. The enemy has a big health bar that we gradually chunk down with our sword, except we're still dying in one hit. Thankfully, there are merciful save points dotted throughout boss fights, but they are still a great challenge and a really fun break from the formula, so it feels just as fresh when you get back to it.

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Ghostrunner 2

Unfortunately, some of these new steps aren't going in the right direction. The bike, for example, was a bit disappointing. When it's on tracks, and you're racing through narrow corridors or down a canyon it feels great to control and can be as fun if not more so than the parkour, but when you're left out in Ghostrunner 2's more open spaces, it can feel a bit tedious to go from one place to the next, breaking up the pace in a way that disservices the overall experience. Also, the bike can be quite clunky sometimes, struggling when you need to put it in reverse. It's not enough to ruin the experience, by any means, but it makes the hours spent outside Dharma Tower not feel as easily replayable as the rest of the game.

There is plenty of replayability in Ghostrunner 2. From collectibles to achievement hunting, those who want to challenge themselves have a wealth of opportunities to do so. Extra challenges have been sprinkled throughout levels, and Roguerunner.exe is a roguelite minigame that pits you in different parkour and combat scenarios, testing your skills as you collect upgrades on the way. With the aforementioned graphics and soundtrack that is immediately going in many of my playlists, I certainly wouldn't mind spending some more time in Dharma Tower, even after the main story is dealt with.

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The original Ghostrunner gave us a simple premise and great action which combined to give us a thrill we didn't know we needed. Its sequel then steps in much more confidently, fleshing out the world, introducing new characters, while still giving us the same irresistible formula that charmed fans in the first place. Not all of Ghostrunner 2's bold new steps land, but the team at One More Level can't be knocked for trying and delivering a great sequel that stands as a substantial upgrade from the original experience.

Ghostrunner 2
08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Same fast-paced combat and parkour you love, bold new story steps, gorgeous soundtrack
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Not every new step is one in the right direction, open sequences clash with the game, too short for story to have weight
overall score
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Ghostrunner 2

REVIEW. Written by Alex Hopley

Jack Ghostrunner is back with some new tricks, but are they enough to make this action sequel stand out?



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