A year after the events in Ghostunner, Dharma Tower is in trouble yet again.
With the death of the Keymaster, a power vacuum has resulted in multiple parties fighting for control. But that’s soon to be the least of your worries. Once again playing as Jack, a new fight filled with fresh challenges awaits you in Ghostrunner 2. And while this is a title still packed with fast-paced first-person action, it’s safe to say that developer One More Level has been rather ambitious.
When you first start playing Ghostrunner 2 it seems like more of the same. Not that that’s a bad thing. If you’ve played the first game, the aesthetics of Dharma Tower will be familiar to you by now, and so will the gameplay that it presents. You push forward through tight corridors and large open areas, occasionally having to deal with an assortment of enemies that want to ruin your day. There are some notable changes from the outset, though. One is that you can now block incoming attacks rather than simply having to dodge them.
You can’t block all attacks, however. And you can only defend while you have stamina, which is depleted with each incoming blow and also used to perform other actions. While being able to block does come in very handy, then, you can’t always rely on it. That seems to be the general approach that One More Level has taken in the development of Ghostrunner 2: to simply give players more options. While this is still a mostly linear game, for example, areas often feel more open, giving you more freedom as to how you tackle the foes eager to tear you apart. And that’s before additional new abilities at your disposal are taken onto consideration.
Over the course of the game you’ll acquire three skills that require energy, which thankfully recharges quite fast. Those who have played the original Ghostrunner will likely be familiar with some of these, such as the Shurikens that can be used to not only kill or at least stun some enemies, but also activate far away switches. While useful in combat, then, these often form the basis of puzzles found in Ghostrunner 2. Your Tempest skill, for example, can be used to move blocks around as well as push back enemies.
Related: The Best Single-Player Games on PS5
All of these skills can be developed as you make your way through the game, too. By collecting chips within levels you’ll open up new slots on a motherboard, as well as increase your available memory. A wide range of range of perks can then be purchased to expand your abilities, though you’ll need to think carefully about how you place them on your motherboard. Some of these perks simply upgrade your skills, like allowing you to slice through enemy shields with your basic attack. Others have more of a pronounced effect on gameplay, like disabling your ability to block while making it easier to increase your combo counter, granting other benefits.
As you collect chips and improve your motherboard you’ll also unlock a range of Ultimate Skills, of which only one can be equipped at any time. These are truly powerful, easily allowing you to wipe out a number of foes, or at least gain the upper hand. If firing a laser out of your hand isn’t your bag, for example, how about hacking an enemy’s mind to make it fight for you?
Despite all of these new abilities at your disposal, Ghostrunner 2 is still a very challenging game. It’s easier to deal with certain enemies, for sure, but with you generally up against more of them at any one time, and there being a greater variety of them, you’ve still very much got your work cut out for you.
It’s about halfway through Ghostrunner 2 that it really throws you a curveball. Happening upon a bike, a thrilling chase sequence follows, and you eventually find yourself outside of Dharma Tower. All of a sudden you’re faced with new scenery, new enemies and new gameplay challenges. You’ll use your bike to explore a semi-open world, getting off it to explore structures and other points of interest. It’s on the outside that you’ll also encounter a danger of epic proportions, in a sequence that rivals those found in even the grandest of AAA experiences.
Ghostrunner 2 isn’t a sequel that plays it safe, that’s for sure. It’s absolutely packed with new ideas, features, and more. It’s just a shame that the result of that ambition is perhaps what’s lead to it feeling rough around the edges. Fall to your death when in a structure, for example, and you might find yourself landing on a random beam or something instead, forcing you to have to pause the game and hit the ‘Restart from Checkpoint’ option. Out in the semi-open world, you might have to do the same when your bike gets stuck on a bit of scenery, too. Outside of these woes, you might also find the controls a bit fiddly at times, and using a late game gadget always found us landing in a crouch position which was a bit irritating.
Look over these issues, though, which is easy to do given how brilliant Ghostrunner 2 is when you find your flow, and you have what is assuredly one of the most impressive and surprising games released this year. This is a AA game punching well above its weight in terms of scope and set-pieces. And despite having a lengthy campaign and a meaty roguelike mode accessible via the the main menu once unlocked, it’s still priced at just £34.99/$39.99.
It’s a shame that Ghostrunner 2 isn’t a little more polished, as its imperfections can frustrate a little at times, but this is still a mighty achievement for One More Level. It remains a challenging experience that’s not for the fainthearted, but it packs in more variety and depth, expanding the world of Ghostrunner to levels we never anticipated or thought possible. If you’re a fan of the original Ghostrunner this is an absolute must-have, but we reckon this is a good place for newcomers to jump in too. Although some might want to wait until a patch or two has landed, just to smooth over some of its rough edges.