By Abdul Hussain
Ghostrunner Homepage (Where to Buy): https://ghostrunnergame.com/
Platform Tested: PC, with the following hardware specifications:
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6700k
- GPU: nVidia Geforce GTX1070
- RAM: 32GB
To start off, what is Ghostrunner? It is a parkour-themed action-adventure game, in which you run around, you jump and you slash your way to the end with a badass sword. However, in typical dystopian cyberpunk fashion, you have to defeat evil in the form of fighting your way to the main enemy called The Keymaster, after you, the Ghostrunner faces her, loses his arm in the process, and survives a heavy fall, because oppression, treating its citizens in a fictional place called Dharma City, like utter crap, while the bigwigs live a life of luxury in a dystopian cyberpunk world, which is largely what the story consists of.
Game Progression, Game Features, and Gameplay
The gameplay is largely fluent in terms of traversing in the game world, with the parkour elements being very fluid without the fear of losing control when wall-running, unlike in Mirror’s Edge and Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, whereby the protagonist, Faith Connors, has the ability to wall-run, but she slides downwards and can only wall-run for a limited time without sliding downwards and losing grip. In Ghostrunner though, this is not the case, and you can therefore run from one end of the wall to another without the fear of even losing grip, which simplifies gameplay from a parkour perspective.
The jumping mechanics is also robust, and without major flaws, and in this game, you can even strafe mid-jump to dodge fire by holding down the Shift key on the keyboard while mid-air, and then moving left or right with the A and D keys respectively, and the melee combat is also impactful and fluid, and gives the gamer that tactile-like feeling of satisfaction when slashing enemies, and the combat is minimal as the game design is more biased towards the parkour aspects of the game, rather than the combat, but the combat is effective.
On the other hand, presumably due to the game reportedly having a ridiculously short completion time and in an effort to lengthen the game time as a result, the enemies have the ability to one-hit kill you and some enemies are shielded as well. The short game time may leave gamers with significant amounts of leisure time wanting more, but for leisure time-deprived gamers, this comes as a benefit, and this game may be ideal for speed-runners and could be used as an ideal speed-running game, if one is willing to do so.
The stage layout is also brilliant, albeit a little linear at times, with you having to sling your way from point to point, almost like Spider-Man, and jump around like there is no tomorrow. There are times whereby the game stages can be a little problematic to navigate, but that is largely due to skill limitations of the player (I am admittedly not a great gamer, and have died 100+ times in certain stages), though on the other hand, there are stage design elements that are also navigationally thought-provoking, and complex, like the Cybervoid stages, and there are puzzles to solve. However, it is also easy to jump past your required platforms to the point whereby you will fall to your death almost immediately as the character you control can easily overshoot a target platform with a fast boost past the intended platform.
As for character gameplay features, you can even get the chance to customize certain features that enhance certain aspects of the game, and in this game, it is presented in the form of a Tetris-like two-dimensional puzzle, with different pieces focusing on different game features/feature categories, like enhancing your Sensory Boost (slowing down to help with reacting to enemies), Blink (another slowdown feature to help attack several enemies in sight), Tempest (a kinetic pushback effect that kills enemies) and so on.
Technological Aspects of the Game: Graphics, Sound and Music, and Game Controls
The one main issue that this very game when it comes to the technological aspects of the game is the fact that this game tends to crash after the very end of every chapter, on version 0.30655.307 of the game, whereby the game presents you with a very unhelpful “Fatal error” popup. Fortunately, you get to continue where the game has crashed, and continue onto the next stage, although it is annoying when this happens literally after every stage.
Thankfully though, updated versions of this game (0.30660.408a, as of 8th November 2020) fixes this very crash, and now you are presented with chapter completion statistics instead of that dreaded “Fatal error!” popup window that mentions nothing other than a generic error message, indicating that a game has crashed.
However, while there aren’t persistent bugs that exist now, one bug I have managed to run into that I fortunately could not reproduce is when I have managed to fall through the game world in a location, whereby I start traversing further into the city and encountering a ninja-like enemy for the first time.
After listening to the music in-game, which is composed/created by a relatively little-known music artist (when compared to the “mainstream music” realm) Daniel Deluxe, the music suits the cyberpunk themes absolutely nicely and adds to the immersion, thus making the game even more fun to play as a result, especially at times whereby you may not mind getting killed off in the game just to embrace the musical efforts on offer here.
As of the time of writing (8th November 2020), two of my favourite tracks from the game are “Dharma”, and “Striker”, as to me, they’re the most listenable tracks outside the game, whilst immersing you into the game world and its dystopic themes without playing the game, and a good videogame soundtrack must have at least a few independently listenable tracks on board, in my opinion.
As for the sound aspects of the game, the sound effects in navigational situations are functional, but the combat sound effects are vicious, brutal, and crisp, as to be expected for such situations in a videogame. Dialogue is also audible, and competent in terms of acting capabilities, with the voice actors doing a decent job in terms of their respective roles, though it’s just a videogame that focuses on gameplay first, with a mid-range price tag to boot, and not exactly a full-price title that focuses solely on story, like a Sony PlayStation “filmic” exclusive title, or a Square Enix travesty.
Game controls in this game are fantastic with a keyboard and mouse, to the point that I have decided to stay with this setup throughout the campaign, and I honestly cannot find any faults with this input setup at all. The PC version of the game also has support for controllers, but unfortunately, as of the time of writing (8th November 2020), I have yet to play the game with a controller. Fortunately though, this game, I can say, does not exacerbate repetitive strain injury/carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms/issues, unlike in Genshin Impact, whereby you had to constantly press the Circle/B button just to perform basic attacks continuously on bothersome enemies.
PC-Specific Section: Graphics/Sound/Control Options
This game has most of the basic options that one would expect in a PC game, or a multiplatform game that is on PC, which is largely good news. Framerate options are diverse, texture/shadow/anti-aliasing options are also wide and present as well. Framebuffer resolution/scaling options are also present, which can help with maintaining higher framerates without crudely changing output resolution settings. However, screen options are largely limited to “Fullscreen window” and “windowed mode”, with no dedicated, proper full-screen mode, which may upset some PC gamers, but other than that, the graphics settings options that are available are adequate and is very scalable to accommodate for PC gamers who are willing to lower certain settings rather than just lower the overall graphical settings to make a game playable on a more primitive PC system.
Sound options are largely basic, with only 4 sliders for “Master volume”, “music volume”, “sound effects volume”, and “dialogs volume”. It’s the standard in sound settings now, not that it is great, as I have mentioned before in this article, especially when this game has the same sound setting sliders/options as Genshin Impact.
Control options are also similarly customizable as the PC version Genshin Impact, whereby key bindings can be swapped around, and sensitivity settings can be adjusted. While gamepad button assignments can be changed, unfortunately, this is restricted to a bunch of presets provided by the game itself, which may also not please certain gamers, especially those who may have medical reasons for disliking the presets being provided here.
In terms of game performance, the game largely fluctuates from ~40FPS to ~60FPS with the current PC setup in every stage that I have played in the game, and the game is well-optimized, though with PC systems that have 4-year-old-and-older parts, do not expect this game to run at 30FPS at maximum settings, as this game is made at a time whereby the Sony PlayStation 5, the Microsoft Xbox Series S/X, and new hardware from AMD and nVidia, like the RTX 3070, and Intel are either on the way, or have been released.
This game has largely been a fun experience, and has a great soundtrack to boot. Gameplay is the main focus of this game and it shows, with its tight controls, impactful combat, and thrilling and dark, futuristic game world. However, the notable setbacks are that the game has a short campaign which has been padded out by excruciatingly difficult sections that may frustrate some to rage-fit-inducing extremes although gamers with a lack of free time can play this game without worrying about whether such gamers can finish a game off, and the voice-acting and story is something that is not frankly spectacular.
As of the time of writing (8th November 2020), the game costs US$29.99 or UK£24.99, which is justifiable for the minimal, yet wholly fun content that this game offers, though some may find that even the original retail price may be too steep for a single-player game that has less than 10 hours’ worth of content.
As a result, I would suggest playing this game if you can get a chance to do so, especially on a weekend, whereby this game is short enough to play through in a few sittings across two to three days, though waiting for a lower price may be a wiser option, due to the minimal offering here that can divide opinion in terms of monetary worthiness.
Also, if you are a DRM-conscious person, grabbing the game via GOG.com is by far the best bet, as you can play the game without needing to login to a client to “prove your ownership of the game” – it’s a case of “just download, install, and play” with GOG. However, grabbing the game via Steam may be a more convenient option for most due to the market share Valve has with its Steam marketplace, and most gamers having large Steam catalogues. Epic Game Store, while an option, is not that popular compared to the former two, though it is gaining in popularity and awareness in recent times.
Lastly, as for this game and the consoles that this game is available on, the Sony PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X versions of the game will be available soon, and is available as an upgrade option to said consoles if you have purchased either a Sony PlayStation 4 or Microsoft Xbox One version of the game.