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Ghostrunner 2 preview – still got the moves, Jack

Developer One More Level doubles down on speed and ferocity in our Ghostrunner 2 preview, as subtle tweaks and seamless movement signal a sturdy sequel.

Ghostrunner 2 preview gamescom 2023

Flying through the air as a sword-wielding cyborg, something dawned on me during my Ghostrunner 2 preview at Gamescom. There’s no pursuit of flashy, overdrawn ideas. Ghostrunner 2 thrives on the lifeforce of subtle improvements and refining an already stellar experience, a goal that has remained a touchstone for developer One More Level, I’m told.

Resuming the action one year after Ghostrunner’s plot, there’s a sense of emerging threat in Dharma Tower. With the death of the Keymaster, everyone is out for their slice of power through Dharma Tower’s gloomy vents and neon-drenched halls. Jack is back, and though Ghostrunner 2 doesn’t appear to be venturing too far out of its comfort zone, it does feel like One More Level is enriching its solid gameplay loop.

That glorious sense of speed and agility still feels fresh, as I launch off walls into a sensational grapple hook/dash combination. Ghostrunner 2 feels tighter and somehow even more responsive than its predecessor. Movement glides along with pin-point accuracy, encouraging you to dive deeper into a risk-reward relationship with Jack’s prowess. Each department of traversing the environment is excellently seamless. There’s a real sense of making Ghostrunner 2 far more approachable too, especially for players who haven’t played the first game.

Don’t get me wrong, Ghostrunner 2 still offers a challenge, but its intricate refinements to traversal and combat are likely to instill confidence in those afraid of its seemingly daunting pace. Movement doesn’t get you out of Dharma Alive, though. Combat in Ghostrunner 2 is the stuff of dreams. I found myself getting cockier with each enemy, testing their resolve while they tested mine. The inclusion of ‘active blocking’ means you can keep your guard up on the go, waiting for an opening to strike. Jack can parry those baddies now, and let me tell you, it doesn’t take long to feel like a parry god.

Daniel Deluxe returns to provide a pulsating suite of synth magic again, too. I’m told by a developer that more artists will accompany his compositions. The first game’s soundtrack was electrifying, and the energy continues here.

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New enemy types want to make a mockery of Jack’s swordplay. Not on my watch, buddy. A well-timed parry gives way to a brutal decapitation. But why rely purely on the sword? New abilities, which can be unlocked and upgraded along the way, provide fresh chances to truly humiliate enemies. The Tempest ability works like the Force, pushing objects where they need to be for puzzles and launching foes away at a moment’s notice. I needed to recharge it often, a fair trade for such a powerful skill. I wasn’t worried, though, because Jack’s shurikens fly out with a devastating slash.

Other abilities like Shadow, which lets Jack cast a decoy of himself, aren’t present in the preview but a developer emphasizes the versatility of Jack’s skillset this time around. Fighting is also complemented by the game’s stunning art direction. Fighting isn’t the only thing on Ghostrunner 2’s mind, either. Enter the motorcycle. Riding it almost feels like an alien concept to include in Ghostrunner 2. With gameplay that relies on the fluidity of parkour-like traversal, I was skeptical when I saw that bike arrive in the first Ghostrunner 2 trailer. One More Level merges the two movement styles together exceptionally well.

It breathes with the same energy as Jack’s on-foot skillset but introduces another layer of panic, in a good way. Speeding through the Dharma Tower’s viaducts, I’m trying to keep a signal on the enemy fleeing ahead. This isn’t just using the game’s grindy rails or wall-running out with my life. I’m riding a supremely badass Akira-style motorcycle – this is where the Ghostrunner 2 preview really impresses.

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You’ll die a lot, but it isn’t highly punishing if you do. Resets are just as easy as on-foot sections, putting you back in the action without skipping a beat, as adrenaline courses through my veins. I’m seconds away from the engulfment of a nasty explosion. Suddenly, the white light of the outside world enters – and I’m about to ride down the side of a gigantic tower. Sadly, that’s where my time with Ghostrunner 2 comes to a close. It may not be widely different from the 2020 hit, but when the concept of Ghostrunner is as direct as it is, overcomplicating it would just fry Jack’s cybernetic brain.

Keep your eyes peeled for more previews, interviews, and coverage of Gamescom from The Loadout over the coming days.