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Series X's Ghostrunner Provides Intense Challenge At Highest Fidelity

Courtesy of One More Level/505 Games


Developer: One More Level
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

Ghostrunner Was The Sleeper Hit of 2020

Last year's Ghostrunner became a surprise hit for Polish developers One More Level, who were relatively unknown before its release. Offering smooth controls and treacherous paths that required snap decisions, Ghostrunner was an instant hit. Many players praised the honest challenges the game offered. Players traversed across death pits with broken billboards and moving platforms. Enemies armed with firearms would spell the end for the Ghostrunner should they strike.

Other hazards including electrical currents and hot metal, required players to alternate their path in real-time. Part of Ghostrunner's charm was how everything flowed together after enough trial-and-error from the player. Each new room was a puzzle waiting to be solved. Players weren't expecting to solve these challenges on the first try and death is a part of the experience. Checkpoints in Ghostrunner are generous and the path laid before players are highlighted accordingly. It's the "dying in one hit" ordeal that hinders progression.

Ghostrunner Gameplay
Ghostrunner - Xbox Series X Direct Capture

Return To Dharma City In 4KHD

Ghostrunner is a game where at first you don't succeed, you try again, and again, and again. The game lacks lives and a conventional "Game Over," encouraging the player to preserve until they give up or complete the level. For a game as fast-paced as Ghostrunner, controls are as solid on Keyboard and Mouse as they are on the controller. Personal preference for controllers aside, the game is responsive except during the moments when it's not.

One of the major gripes about the controls for Ghostrunner is how the triggers and left stick function. The left trigger is used as a grappling hook, identified by a blue circle. The problem here is that sometimes the grappling hook refuses to grapple, even when the reticle is as bright of a blue as it can be. This leads to players mashing the LT button on the verge of breaking the poor thing, just for the Ghostrunner to fall to his death.

Ghostrunner Gameplay #2
Ghostrunner - Xbox Series X Direct Capture

Keep Calm And Carry On, Ghostrunner

Another example is the "Blink" ability that players learn at some point. This is activated by pressing the Left Stick inward and it's used to kill enemies in succession. Unfortunately, pressing the button on accident is a reoccurring thing as the player will frantically move the left stick to get into position. Players who mean to dodge enemy fire by strafing will automatically set off their ability. The player is now a sitting duck during this instance and is at the mercy of the ability.

As frustrating as these encounters can get, Ghostrunner is a marvel to look at. Neon billboards illuminate vividly. The orange hue of molten metal radiates the path ahead. Different cues within the environment identify points of interest, rewarding players with progression as they play proficiently. The ray-tracing provided via the Xbox Series X highlights how gorgeous the game is both in motion and while stationary.

Training Module Gameplay
Ghostrunner - Xbox Series X Direct Capture

Being A Cyborg Ninja Was Never Cooler

For performance options, players can set the game to an optional 120fps mode. Playing the game with ray-tracing on, I felt no difference with the performance mode on and off. Even the sound is greatly improved, offering depths in range. Enemy banter can get annoying, hearing them shout expletives as they fire their weapons at all times. The dialogue between the main character and the supporting characters helps fill the dead air, however.

While Ghostrunner has been available for over a year, the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions are the best way to experience the game. Console players who have been on the fence for whatever reason now have a chance to play Ghostrunner in its purest form. A solid framerate, coupled with amazing graphics and a fun rewarding challenge, awaits.

Ghostrunner is available on the PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Nintendo Switch.

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