Dying 84 times in my hands on didn't stop me from loving Ghostrunner 2

 enemy sticking its tongue out
enemy sticking its tongue out

Ghostrunner 2 was one of my stand-out titles at Gamescom 2023, with its impeccable levels, scenery, and combat system capturing my attention within 38 minutes.

One of the catchphrases for the upcoming cyberpunk FPP slasher is “blood will run”, which unfortunately turns out to be true for me and less so for my enemies. During the course of my 38-minute demo, I managed to die a whopping 84 times - that’s an average of once every 22 seconds.

The bright and neon-filled landscapes in this dystopian world housed killers in its shadows and crawl spaces, but I was none the wiser when they ultimately jumped on my head and finished me off in one hit.

Luckily before I could get overwhelmed by shame, the lead-level designer for Ghostrunner 2, Marcin Kluzek, reassured me that I was on the right track, and not to worry about my seemingly infinite amount of restarts. “Death isn’t a penalty; it’s a learning curve,” Kluzek told me, which strangely began to make more sense the more I died. As I gradually learned how to glide across the grimy futuristic world, things started to fall into place.

After some hits and misses, I eventually began to shift through space, dodging bullets and dealing out finishing kills like it was second nature. Despite not playing the first title, the skills and movement of Ghostrunner 2 were simple to pick up and intuitive to use. This didn’t happen by accident; the devs had a big hand in expertly crafting each ability for the benefit of the player.

oncoming enemy fight
oncoming enemy fight

If you played the first title in the Ghostrunner series, then you will largely be familiar with all the abilities on offer. Kluzek disclosed that the feedback from fans pointed towards keeping most of the features the same, so with respect to this, the devs decided not to change too many elements in the sequel.

Players will be able to slow down time and shift out of oncoming fire or towards enemies, landing themselves in their blindspots, ready to perform a finishing kill. There is also the familiar sword which you can slash enemies with, your electronic lasso, as well as electric shurikens and gravitational push, which can be used to interact with your surroundings.

Crucially, while each of these skills can be used individually with a high success rate, the trick is to join them all together. Only when you do this will you finally play Ghostrunner 2 as it’s meant to be experienced, as you effortlessly race across the terrain using every ability in your arsenal to become a rapid and deadly killing machine.

Trial and (mostly) error

Riding a motorbike through the city
Riding a motorbike through the city

The Ghostrunner series rests on the pillars of fast and precise attacks, dodging enemies, and now blocking incoming fire. While it’s important to assess each situation that you encounter, this should never be at the expense of speed.

These various checkpoints were a saving grace that turned what could have been an aggravating playthrough into an enjoyable one

Throwing yourself headfirst into every situation is a great way to get the ball rolling and sink into the playstyle of Ghostrunner 2. Even if (or when) you do die, there are no loading screens, so you’re almost immediately transported back to the last checkpoint, where you can race into the level once again, learning from your previous mistakes in the process.

Kluzek also pointed out that this rapid re-entry rate is encouraged in all aspects of Ghostrunner 2. It’s for this very reason that the devs placed so many checkpoints at various stages of the levels. You never have to worry too much about replaying large swathes of a map.

As someone who did die 84 times in just over 38 minutes, these various checkpoints were a saving grace that turned what could have been an aggravating playthrough into an enjoyable one. So even if you’re not naturally meant to dash around cyberpunk worlds effortlessly taking out every single opponent, you need not worry, as you’ll still likely have an incredibly fun time, deaths and all.

If you're looking forward to Ghostrunner 2, then be sure to check out these other fantastic upcoming titles for PS5 and new Xbox Series X games for 2023.