Ghostrunner 2, released in 2020, gained praise for its exciting blend of first-person parkour and challenging one-hit-kill combat. The sequel maintains the essence of its core gameplay but takes a risk by expanding the game world. While it occasionally loses its way, Ghostrunner 2 manages to find its footing again.
Set a year after the first game, Ghostrunner 2 follows cyborg assassin Jack in his role as an enforcer for the Climbers gang in the cyberpunk tower of Dharma. Unlike its predecessor, the sequel places a stronger emphasis on narrative, making it initially confusing for players unfamiliar with the first game’s events. Numerous radio conversations provide context, but the story eventually settles into a predictable revenge plot, lacking nuanced characterization and memorable story beats.
The strength of Ghostrunner 2 lies in its core gameplay. Players can swiftly navigate levels with speed and grace, using wall runs, slides, grapples, and jumps. The platforming challenges evolve with new and existing mechanics, requiring thoughtful and reflexive play. Combat remains intense, with one-hit kills for both the player and enemies, creating a dance of reactions and strategy. Each skirmish feels choreographed as players master timing and target prioritization.
The introduction of new abilities enhances both combat and platforming. Upgrades are available through a chip system, allowing players to customize their playstyle. However, the upgrade process can feel convoluted, and some abilities are underutilized, missing opportunities for exploration.
Ghostrunner 2 attempts to expand its gameplay by introducing an open world and a motorbike chase sequence. While entertaining initially, the transition to the wasteland outside Dharma Tower creates friction. The open area lacks interesting challenges, and the narrative delivery through conversations in a barren landscape feels detached. The attempt to introduce new enemy types and expand the story during this phase falls short, resulting in a significant portion of the game feeling uninteresting.
The return to Dharma Tower is a highlight, with vibrant neon lighting and varied districts providing a visually engaging experience. The cyberpunk imagery is enhanced by a pulsating soundtrack, adding to the immersive atmosphere.
Despite its shortcomings, Ghostrunner 2’s finely-tuned blend of parkour and action remains captivating. The game’s increased ambition, while detracting from its core strengths, doesn’t overshadow the expertly designed combat arenas and satisfying platforming gauntlets. The narrative struggles to bridge the gap between the two distinct phases of the game, but Ghostrunner 2 eventually returns to its roots, delivering an enthralling action experience. Overall, Ghostrunner 2 strikes a balance, providing an entertaining sequel that doesn’t veer too far from its successful formula.