With a barrage of major upcoming games and three new consoles, the final quarter of 2020 is looking absolutely packed. But even outside of that AAA bubble, there’s plenty else to look forward to. One game that we’ve been quite curious about for a while is Ghostrunner, a first person cyberpunk action title, and with its launch less than a month away, in this feature we’re going to go over the key pieces of information that you should know about it.
Cyberpunk settings are often some of the richest across all entertainment media, and Ghostrunner is looking promising as well. The game is set in the distant future, where a cataclysmic event wiped out the Earth and much of its population. The remnants of humanity now live in Dharma Tower, a sprawling city built into a large structure that serves as the last bastion of the human race. Things, however, are dire in the city as well.
Dharma Tower is ruled by Mara the Keymaster, a tyrannical ruler who rules over the city with an iron grip. As is often the case in cyberpunk settings, the people of the city are divided and in the midst of a rebellion. You play as a hero who can fight not only in the real world, but also in cyberspace, and it falls to you to ascend the tower and kill the Keymaster to restore order to Dharma Tower.
The developers of Ghostrunner have drawn inspiration from plenty of stories from across media. One look at Ghostrunner’s fast and kinetic action makes it clear that it’s taking cues from Mirror’s Edge. Outside of video games, they’ve also cited classic cyberpunk stories such as Blade Runner as stories that have influenced them.
TARGETING HARDCORE PLAYERS
Ghostrunner developers One More Level have a pretty solid idea of what sort of an audience they’re targeting with their upcoming game- pleasing to the masses isn’t something they’re concerned about. Ghostrunner is very much targeted at the hardcore crowd. For instance, they don’t see fellow upcoming cyberpunk title Cyberpunk 2077 as competition. Speaking in an interview with GamesRadar, lead designer and producer Radosław Ratusznik said, “We’re players ourselves and we can’t wait to get our hands on the game. We don’t really perceive Cyberpunk 2077 as competition, it’s a gigantic AAA production, while we’re targeting hardcore players.”
Combat in Ghostrunner is going to be almost entirely focused on melee attacks. You play as a cyber-ninja armed with a katana, and your goal, as you might imagine, is to cut through all enemies that fall in your path. Your enemies will not be restricted to melee attacks though, which should provide a nice layer of challenge to the combat.
ONE HIT KILLS
The most fundamental mechanic that Ghostrunner is built on – and the one that seems the most interesting – is the fact that every single attack in the game is essentially a killing blow if it finds its target. All enemies will die with one slash of your katana- by that same token, you, too, will die as soon as you take even a single hit. Mobility, then, is going to be crucial, and dodging incoming attacks and moving around while slashing at enemies will be the key to surviving combat encounters.
The bulk of Ghostrunner will be spent ascending Dharma Tower, as we’ve discussed earlier, and while you’ll be spending a lot of time in the tower’s dilapidated cyberpunk environments, a lot of your time will also be sent in the digital world of cyberspace. These environments will provide some welcome changes of scenery and bring more outlandish design and sights to the table, complete with their own combat and platforming challenges.
Ghostrunner’s gameplay is built on two pillars. The first is the one-hit-kill melee combat that we’ve spoke about. The second is platforming. Ghostrunner will be putting a lot of emphasis on the kinetic first person platforming that games such as Mirror’s Edge have popularized in recent years. You can look forward to plenty of wall-running, grappling, jumping across chasms, and more.
Your traversal abilities and melee attacks will serve as the foundation of the core gameplay in Ghostrunner, but there will be plenty more abilities in both platforming and combat to make use of as well, several of which will be unlocked as you play more. We’re going to have to play the game to discover the extent of the progression, of course, but already, we’ve seen abilities such as a Force Push-style attack, and the shield-shattering Blink ability.
Given its one-hit-kill mechanic, it’s no surprise that Ghostrunner isn’t going to be an easy game. One More Level have said that they’re targeting the hardcore crowd with their game, and that will apply to difficulty as well. The core loop seems to be centred around a trial and error approach, so expect to die- a lot. Learning the movement and attack patterns of enemies and using that knowledge to your advantage will be a crucial part of the experience.
Don’t be too daunted by the prospect of repeated deaths and gruelling difficulty though. Ghostrunner is still going to accommodate players with some important accessibility features. For instance, the developers have said that there are going to be plenty of checkpoints in the game, which means you won’t be punished too badly every time you die, and jumping back into the action will be quick and seamless.
You’ll be coming across various different kinds of enemies in Ghostrunner, all of whom will challenge you and demand skill in unique ways. Some enemies will be equipped with shields, bipedal robots will shoot energy beams at you from a distance, drones will remain aerial as they look to take you down, and so on. Learning the weaknesses and patterns of different enemy types will be crucial as you attempt to climb to the top of Dharma Tower.
There will, of course, be boss encounters as well. Given Ghostrunner’s central one-hit-kill mechanic, it goes without saying that these won’t be traditional boss fights, but you can expect set piece fights against tougher enemies. Speaking about boss fights in an interview with Respawn First, the game’s writer Jan Gąsior said, “Yes, there are bosses in Ghostrunner. They’re not your usual bullet sponges though. These encounters put some caveats on the core mechanics, but they don’t change the rules of the game on you. I can’t go into much detail at this point, but I think players craving for memorable fights won’t be disappointed.”
Most developers in the industry tend to make their games as long as possible- which is great, of course. It’s more bang for our buck. But shorter games with tight pacing and a concise runtime have their own undeniable appeal. That’s what Ghostrunner seems to be going for. Its developers have said that the game is going to be between 5 to 10 hours long, which seems like a good length for a $30 game, especially if it has good replay value.
RAY-TRACING AND PC REQUIREMENTS
Ghostrunner’s developers have confirmed that the game will launch with RTX support, and from what we have seen of the game with RTX enabled, its slick environments are looking even slicker. What exactly will your PC need to run the game though? Well, so far, only its minimum requirements have been officially unveiled, and they’re rather modest. At minimum, you will need an 8 GB RAM, with either a GTX 630 or a Radeon HD 6570, alongside either an Intel i3-2100 or an AMD A8-5600k.