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Ghostrunner 2 Review: A Quantum Leap Forward

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via 505 Games

A PS5 code was provided to GamingPizza for this review. Ghostrunner 2 will be available on October 26, 2023 PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

As someone who found enjoyment in the original Ghostrunner, I can’t say I was ardently invested in its narrative or mechanics. It was intriguing and fun enough, but not transformative. Enter Ghostrunner 2, and the tables have dramatically turned. While the first game had its moments, this sequel grabs your attention and immerses you deeply into its world, elevating almost every aspect from its predecessor. As a fan of the masocore genre, Ghostrunner 2 fits snugly into the niche of “devilishly challenging yet irresistibly addictive” titles, urging you with its tantalizing “one more try” appeal.

The original Ghostrunner lacked a gripping narrative, somewhat plagued by predictability and overused clichés — like it was borrowing successful elements from other games. Ghostrunner 2, on the other hand, feels like a masterclass in improved storytelling. Set a year after the events of the first installment, we find ourselves thrown into a tumultuous world. Keymaster Mara is defeated, but new threats loom large. The introduction of optional dialogue choices might seem trivial — especially since they don’t impact the end result — but it does create a layer of immersion, putting players more in the shoes of Jack, our beloved Ghostrunner. The narrative might not be winning awards for its profundity, but it achieves what the original couldn’t — make players genuinely care about the characters and their journeys.

Jack is back

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via 505 Games

Ghostrunner is synonymous with its exhilarating one-hit-kill gameplay, a feature that thankfully remains intact in the sequel. Controlling Jack remains as satisfying as ever, especially when juxtaposed against the game’s challenging enemy encounters. Admittedly, Ghostrunner 2 doesn’t particularly revolutionize enemy variety. But with 18 meticulously crafted levels, each offering a distinct challenge, this limitation is easily overshadowed. In addition, certain enemies from the original, such as the hair-pullingly frustrating Sniper from the original game, have been improved or wholly eradicated, optimizing the core combat experience.

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One of the standout improvements is in the realm of player abilities. Gone are the days of conserving your skills for fear of an impending tougher battle. Now, abilities can be deployed more liberally, only to be instantly refreshed post-encounter. The transformation of certain old skills into new “ultimate” versions offers refreshing combat strategies. The Shuriken ability is particularly noteworthy, allowing players to stun stronger foes and grapple onto them, streamlining some of the more intense combat scenarios.

The upgrade system in Ghostrunner 2 is also praiseworthy. With a plethora of upgrades to choose from, players have an unprecedented level of flexibility in tailoring Jack’s abilities to their playstyle. Hunting for purple collectibles to enhance your upgradable Motherboard has never felt more rewarding.

Zoom, zoom

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via 505 Games

The new bike feature, albeit available only on specific levels, is an exhilarating addition. Whether you’re racing in linear worlds or navigating vast barren landscapes, the bike offers a fun diversion from the usual parkour and combat. Admittedly, navigating some of the more open levels with the bike proved somewhat confusing, but the sheer joy of engaging in combat while atop this vehicle more than compensates for any minor navigational issues.

As for boss battles, they are an absolute treat. Diverse, challenging, and brilliantly designed, each boss feels unique and demands a distinct strategy. The parkour-based bosses are a particular highlight, and the inclusion of a bike boss is just the cherry on top.

Clocking in at around 15 hours, Ghostrunner 2 might seem short-lived to some, but it’s a testament to the game’s quality that players are left yearning for more. What it lacks in sheer duration, it compensates with high-quality content — perfect for a single-serve Friday night gaming session at the end of a long week. The allure of experimenting with different builds and revisiting epic battles ensures that players will find reasons to replay the game, adding significant value to the overall package.

I also preferred the console version of the game compared to my experience with playing the original Ghostrunner on PC. I have no doubt that a serviceable PC would do wonders for Ghostrunner 2. However, mine is on its last leg, so the launch of the PS5 version at the same time is a welcomed treat.

Wallrunning to victory

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via 505 Games

Ghostrunner 2 stands tall as an exemplar of how to craft a sequel that respects its origins while fearlessly innovating. While the first game was enjoyable enough in its own right, this sequel is nothing short of a success, encapsulating the very essence of a perfect follow-up.

Despite a few negligible performance issues and a brief playtime, it’s hard to find fault with Ghostrunner 2. It’s a stellar evolution of the franchise, and if you found any joy in the original, picking up this sequel is a no-brainer.

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GamingPizza Rating: 9 out of 10

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