Ghostrunner 2 is as fun as it is difficult. While its complexity isn’t sustained throughout the quick-paced sword-slashing fun, it will rear its ugly head just enough for you to contemplate breaking thank lovely new monitor. However, as long as you stay strong, you will be rewarded with some of the most thrilling traversal and fights.
Great environmental traversal
Occasional rendering errors
Sometimes confusing directives
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Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S
Release date: October 26, 2023
Gliding through Ghostrunner 2 can be a balancing act. On one end of the precarious see-saw, you feel like an unstoppable cyber-ninja that can defeat even the fiercest of foes. On the other, you’re faced with furiously complex challenges and frustrating bugs, which go a long way in slowing you down.
Luckily, the objective of Ghostrunner 2 is simple. Mr tall, dark and swordy is set in an apocalyptic future where humanity is confined in one last liveable city, Dharma Tower. Here, there is a dangerous threat of the Asura, a group of Ghostrunners hunted to near extinction. This blood-thirsty organization plagues Dharma Tower and is hell-bent on destroying it and bringing about a new age ruled by Ghostrunners. Alongside the Interface Council, a group of humans fighting for freedom, you must navigate the tower and the outside world to bring down these enemies.
It’s a lot of pressure to place on a new Ghostrunner; for better or worse, you’ll feel this stress throughout your time in Ghostrunner 2. While you’re gradually introduced to all the mechanics in your arsenal, meaning you can slowly get to grips with traversing the high-stakes and dangerous environment, the skill ceiling spikes and ebbs throughout your playthrough. The next challenging section could be right around the corner, and you won’t know until you’re in the thick of it.
Soaring through the skies
Ghostrunner 2’s biggest draw is its fast-paced traversal and action sequences. You can’t help but feel cool as you’re racing through cybernetic cathedrals and pokey alleyways that crisscross Dharma Tower. You have multiple abilities that make navigating these locations simple, which is more than welcome when you’re flying hundreds of stories up in the air.
The setting is incredible; as a fan of futuristic cityscapes, Ghostrunner 2’s environment is a predictable win for me. But to be fair, it is expertly crafted and beautiful. Inside Dharma Tower, you’re constantly bombarded with cybernetic neon lights and ominous towers that reach up into the heavens. Outside in the wastelands, you’re greeted with a different reality, one full of monstrous creatures and magnificent landscapes that reach as far as the eye can see.
Slashing my way through a gigantic cyber worm whilst riding a rocket-fast motorcycle. This beast took 10 minutes to drive through and presented multiple new and dangerous obstacles for me to overcome in mere moments. It was an adrenaline-filled ride that left me shaking.
It’s here where you also realize the scale of Ghostrunner 2. Climbing to the top of old derelict factories set in the apocalyptic deserts in search of Asura members is frighteningly beautiful. I’m not a massive fan of heights, so when you’re skimming the cloud line standing on a precarious rusty sheet metal, my heart starts to race more than I’d like to admit.
You can’t wall run and latch onto every structure, but this isn’t an issue, as everything you can use is signposted to make snap decisions in the heat of the moment. While I did have more than a few fumbles where I just missed a ledge or overshot a jump and tumbled into a black abyss, the environmental traversal was easy and fluid almost all of the time.
Having something simple and fun to rely on when the stakes are so high is excellent. Usually, you’re racing across corridors filled with enemies, so not having to think about whether you’ll make that crucial jump is a stress reliever. Instead, you can worry about the several enemy types that all call for different attacking approaches and when mixed, may change your way of overcoming a problem.
Know your enemy
You’ll have to face up against several types of goons while navigating Ghostrunner 2. You have the classic enemies, which merely hold a blade, as well as two kinds of gun-wielders, one with an automatic rifle and another with a slow-firing rifle. There are also various other types with more complex abilities. Some shoot a laser beam that you cannot block, some jump towards you, crashing down and knocking you back, while others dual wield katanas and must be stopped with pinpoint timing.
All these enemies call for different attacking approaches; some you can face head-on, others you need to conserve stamina during a fight to dodge or block. More complicated enemies call for careful planning and the use of barriers as shields. These groups of enemies are also found in various locations, all of which are laid out differently. This means no encounter is the same; you’ll likely have to consider different approaches and strategies when encountering a new group of enemies.
While it may seem like a lot of effort, the quick respawns help ease the pain. It means you can rapidly dive in and out of combat, trying new strategies or killing off the enemies in different orders to see what works best. However, killing off every single enemy in a complex and nail-biting acrobatic fight only to be shot by a lone ranger hidden up in a corner is still infuriating. It puts a dampener on what are otherwise fun fighting sequences.
A glitch in the system
Despite Ghostrunner 2 being full of astounding settings and thrilling fight sequences, a couple of aspects weigh it down. In a few instances, I encountered rendering issues, which saw my character fly into a glitching maw of darkness, unsure where I was meant to go or if one step would send me flying off the map; I had to stay deathly still. This problem didn’t happen often, but combined with the long loading screens, pausing the fast-paced action can be quite frustrating.
There were also a couple of times when the difficulty became too much with no real sense of progression. One of the boss fights you come up against involves you fighting the Architect; this is an excruciating sequence that demands flawless accuracy and fast reactions. However, the difficulty here isn’t the issue; it’s a major boss fight. The problem lies in the random encounters with mere goons, which are made needlessly hard thanks to the layout you’re fighting in, and the groups of enemies attacking me.
On a few occasions, I was forced to forgo the fast-paced fights for hiding behind barrels and waiting for my shuriken ability to charge up so I could take enemies out one at a time from a distance. This isn’t how you’re meant to play Ghostrunner 2, but sometimes all you need to do is progress, so cyber ninjitsu be damned. The worst part is that all this pain and hard work is ultimately useless, as all you’re rewarded with is an open door, and more enemies to fight off. Ghostrunner 2’s reward just isn’t worth the risk.
Coming out on top
Despite its fluctuating skill ceiling and occasional rendering issues, Ghostrunner 2 is still a fantastic thrill ride through a cybernetic and dystopian world. You not only get to enjoy the creative and marvellous settings but also get to know the group of humans striving to make Dharma Tower safe for all. While you don’t get to spend much face-to-face time with your team, you do get to have a chat over your intercom every now and then, usually whilst you’re fighting through hordes of undead wasteland creatures. It’s not a game-changing feature, but it does make for some nice background noise.
If you’re a fan of fast-paced, action-packed games, then Ghostrunner 2 should be high up on your list of titles to check out. Its fluid fights, thrilling abilities, and fantastic visuals will keep you hooked from start to finish.
All I’ll say before you dive in is to remember to take deep breaths often, and regardless of what happens, don’t take it out on your controller; it didn’t do anything to deserve being broken into a thousand pieces.
There isn’t a dedicated accessibility settings page in Ghostrunner 2. However, you can find some features that may help customize the game to your liking. For example, there are subtitles which you can change the size of. As well as turning the camera shake or the UI on or off. Otherwise, there is a combat assistance that you can use to help during brutal fights. Like the first game, this feature gives you a shorter cooldown for special skills, slower fights, and even the ability to take more than one hit.
How we reviewed
There aren’t various difficulty settings in Ghostrunner 2. However, I refrained from using combat assists to better understand how difficult this cybernetic slasher is. While I did manage to complete it, it wasn’t necessarily the cleanest run, as I replayed various sections a tear-inducing number of times.
I also had some technical difficulties while playing through Ghostrunner 2. My PC isn’t the newest spring chicken, but with a 3070Ti, it can often handle everything thrown at it, so the hitches and stutters were disconcerting.
Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications.
Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.