2023 has been a great year for videogames, and with the likes of Ghostrunner 2 yet to come, we think it’s going to continue to be a great one, too. Going hands-on with a short demo of this upcoming sequel, it’s clear that while it’s mostly an iterative sequel, it does have some meaningful improvements as well as new features. More importantly, we can’t wait to play more.
The first thing you notice jumping into the world of Ghostrunner 2 is that it looks absolutely gorgeous. The original game was already a feast for the eyes, but things here have been turned up to eleven. The textures are sharper and the effects fancier, making for a game that effortlessly absorbs you into its world. The scenery remains the same, though, or at least in the first part of the demo we tried. You dash and dice your way across dark rooftops and industrial-looking expanses, with flourishes of neon light adding a colorful and futuristic ambiance. Will there be more variety later in the game? We’ll have to see.
In any case, backing up the stellar visuals is gameplay that’s hard not to be enthralled by. At its core it’s much the same as it is in the first Ghostrunner, but there are some important tweaks that make it feel more intuitive, and – dare we say it – more forgiving. You can now block enemy projectile attacks with your sword, for example, but you can’t rely on the feature too much or else your guard will be broken. It appears that you have permanent access to shuriken this time around, too, giving you more access to ranged attacks. Though again, you won’t be able to rely on them too much.
As we made our way through the level made available to us in the demo, what really struck us is how Ghostrunner 2 feels more open. It’s still fairly linear, but when it comes to each combat encounter you feel like you have more options, more ways to approach your enemies and take them out. One encounter, for example, found us in a large area with multiple groups of enemies to eradicate. Thanks to three grapple points, we could choose which group of enemies to tackle first, adding more of a strategy element to the game. Along the way, we also made use of a new ability that allowed us to break through crumbling walls, while high-powered fans gave us the upward momentum needed to reach higher ground and clear up stragglers.
Of course, Ghostrunner 2 isn’t all about combat. There’s still a lot of athletic traversal to be done between combat arenas, as well as puzzles to solve. One of these involved us making use of our Tempest ability to move a fan with a blast of force, then using our shuriken to hit a distant switch and open a locked door. Simple, sure, but it’s something that offered a nice break from the high octane actions. We imagine puzzles will get trickier later in the game, too. There’s something else here that adds a little more variety to the gameplay as well: a bike.
Upon reaching the end of the level typical of the first Ghostunner game, we discovered a bike, and our protagonist was quick to jump on it in order to pursue his target. Cue an adrenaline-pumping first-person bike ride. The controls here are as you’d expect: the right trigger accelerates, and the left stick is used to steer. You also have a boost button, and can slash at certain objects with your sword, such as switches to open doors ahead. What made this section particularly tricky was avoiding obstacles such as rotating fan blades while moving through small tunnels, and quickly moving to ride on walls when sections of the road before us were absent.
As ever, there there was an element of trial and error with the biking section, but with restarts being pretty much immediate and the action being so exhilarating, we didn’t mind. When the music is pumping and you’re having such a good time, all you want to do is push on and succeed. And that we did. With the biking section complete, we found ourselves busting through into a bright external area where we were suddenly free-falling. Though with our time with the game over, we can only dream of what happens next. Needless to say, we now more eager than ever to play Ghostrunner 2 when it launches on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC this October.