Ghostrunner 2 (Xbox) REVIEW – It Slices, It Dices

Jack's back, baby.

Ghostrunner 2
Ghostrunner 2
Ghostrunner 2
Release Date
October 26, 2023
One More Level Games
505 Games
Our Score

In 2020, amidst a year that included some all-time classic video games such as DOOM Eternal, Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Ghostrunner emerged as a bit of a sleeper hit. Carving through goons and robots as a deadly cyborg ninja, where one blow could spell your own doom, made for a tense, challenging and ultimately satisfying experience. Clearly, enough people agreed, as One More Level and 505 Games are back again with a sequel, and the magic is still on show with Ghostrunner 2.

For the uninitiated, Ghostrunner is basically what happens when you mix the parkour of Mirror’s Edge with cyborg Raiden from Metal Gear, sprinkling a dash of the super hardcore, “one more go” challenge games like Trials on top for good measure. You’re given a lot of movement abilities, and are subsequently funnelled into tightly controlled parkour obstacle courses or combat arenas where just one hit means you’re dead.

Fortunately, instant respawns allow you to get back in the fray quickly, ready to try and die again and again until you succeed. As a formula, it’s not for everyone, especially with the lack of difficulty settings or accessibility options, but for those who click with it, Ghostrunner is a cracking action game. Ghostrunner 2 takes the “please sir, may I have some more?” approach to sequels, offering more enemy types, abilities and gimmicks for players to overcome. It’s probably not the most imaginative sequel ever made, but it’s every bit as great as the previous game.

Ghostrunner 2
Ghostrunner 2

Set one year after the events of the first game, you’re once again controlling the super cyborg Jack as he deals with a dangerous threat from Dharma Tower’s past, as they unleash an army of thugs, cyborg goons and other menaces upon the Tower. Meanwhile, the Climbers, who Jack helped in the previous game, are trying (and failing) to unite the Tower’s various factions to stand as one against the onslaught.

Much like the last game, the story of Ghostrunner 2 is serviceable if unspectacular, especially when it comes to the villains. Aside from the head honcho, most of them aren’t really fleshed out and just exist as fodder for Jack’s katana. Still, the allied characters and overall writing is entertaining enough to keep you invested in between bouts of superfast ultra violence and parkour.

The real star of the show here is the gameplay, which feels like a concoction you can’t really get anywhere else, and when it starts cooking, you feel like a god. Wallrunning, deflecting bullets, slicing through enemies and dodging those big horizontal laser robots that have come back from the first game. Nailing the perfect run through a combat arena might take a lot of work, but if you’re willing to put the time in, it’s utterly euphoric.

Ghostrunner 2
Ghostrunner 2

Having been rebooted, Jack finds himself learning a lot of abilities all over again, with Blink, Tempest and Overlord making a return from the previous game. However, Jack’s powers are now split between regular abilities and Ultimates, which gives the player more options to conquer combat arenas, instead of just using one power for the duration. Wisely, the first ability Jack gets his hands on is Shuriken, giving you some longer range options and the ability to stun bigger enemies from afar, which is great.

The upgrade system has also been overhauled now too, with more perks across more categories that allow players to really create a build that works for them. Admittedly, the motherboard system is a bit more confusing than the Tetris/RE4 inventory management-esque mini-game in the previous Ghostrunner, as you can only put perks of the same category in the same column (and you can only buy the upgrade to bypass that in the later stages of the game). Still, the effect that these perks have on gameplay is massive, which adds replayability and experimentation, something that’s huge in a game that’s as linear as Ghostrunner.

Perhaps the only truly disappointing feature of Ghostrunner 2 is the much-anticipated motorbike levels, which sees Jack hopping on to a big bike and exploring the world outside of Dharma Tower. In concept, these bigger levels and new mode of transport add an extra dimension to the game, but in execution,the motorbike is dropped in for a few levels and half the time only serves as a means to travel from one encounter to the next. On top of that, the bike is most prone to glitches and becoming stuck on rocks and other environmental objects, forcing a checkpoint restart.

Ghostrunner 2
Ghostrunner 2

There are some exciting bike moments, like the level where the bike is introduced, or a certain boss fight, but other than that it’s added then discarded at the side of the road within a few levels. In a similar vein, there’s a gameplay mechanic introduced in the second to last level that genuinely changes how you interact with Ghostrunner 2 in terms of mobility, but because it’s not long until you face the final boss and the credits roll, it feels like One More Level don’t live up to their namesake. Let us play around with these toys more, lads, they’re so fun.

Given how quickly Ghostrunner 2 was confirmed after the release of the first game though, it wouldn’t at all be surprising to learn that One More Level has one more Ghostrunner game in them, and with how much fun these past two have been, a Ghostrunner 3 sounds like it’d be another winner. Even so, Ghostrunner 2 is a brilliant example of lightning striking twice, and will appeal massively to anyone looking for another run.

A copy of Ghostrunner 2: Brutal Edition was provided by PR for the purposes of this review. 

READ MORE: Ghostrunner (Xbox One) REVIEW – Mirror’s Blade-Edge

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Ghostrunner 2
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