In 2020, 505 Games brought us a fast-paced cyberpunk first-person action game – “Ghostwalker”. With its innovative design combining “cyber parkour” and “one-hit kill”, it instantly gained a massive following, attracting a large number of players to Damota, continuously attempting to “make fatal errors”.
Now, three years later, the highly anticipated sequel “Ghostwalker 2” is about to return. Can this new installment bring more surprises?
【More Than Just Parkour, There’s Sprinting and Flying】
*Note: The following content contains minor spoilers.
The story of the second installment picks up where the first left off. After the protagonist, Jack, kills the keymaker Mara, a chaotic battle ensues among the various factions within Damota. Among them, the minions of Ashura secretly act to find and resurrect the original ghostwalker “Mitra”. Following this, the “Four Heavenly Kings” of Ashura begin to prepare their revenge plan against Damota. In exchange for peace within the tower, Jack embarks on a lengthy journey of pursuit.
Midway through the game, players will leave Damota to explore a desolate outer world, where the only conscious beings are synthetic organic lifeforms known as “Holy Grails” or cyber zombies, which will become the main enemies in the latter part of the adventure.
The second installment adds a plethora of dialogue and plot content to expand and complete the overall background and worldview of the game, interpreting the beauty of “cyberpunk” in a post-apocalyptic setting from both the perspectives of artificial intelligence and humans. Although the central theme of the plot ultimately falls on “revenge” (in the first game the protagonist completes his revenge, while in the second game the protagonist prevents the villain from completing theirs), the several scenes with the antagonist Boss are quite brilliantly executed.
Enhancing the story experience certainly satisfies someone like me who enjoys a good narrative. However, when it comes to the biggest highlight of the game, it has to be parkour. Yet in the second installment, talking about “parkour” seems somewhat one-sided. Let’s refer to it as “extreme sports” gameplay instead.
The extreme sports gameplay is divided into three parts. The first is parkour, where players can still wall-run and flip around as in the first game, but with some parkour scenes designed to be more challenging than in the first installment. Additionally, the second installment introduces puzzle-solving elements absent from the first game. Players need to choose the appropriate abilities and use parkour to unlock mechanisms in the scenes to open the path to the next scene.
Around one-third into the game, players will acquire their first vehicle, a motorcycle, and embark on the first high-speed chase of the game. The motorcycle will accompany players through the middle part of the game as they explore and adventure in the outer world.
During the ride, whether it’s wall-riding or taking off from a ramp, players can truly experience the thrill of “speed and passion”. However, there are some criticisms. For example, the motorcycle’s handling feels somewhat lightweight, as if driving a zero-gravity race car. Additionally, there are no clear interaction animations for getting on and off the vehicle, making it feel somewhat abrupt. The track design also lacks necessary guidance and prompts, requiring players to rely mostly on their reflexes.
Towards the end of the game, players will acquire a wingsuit, and the levels that follow have a scale several times larger than previous ones, being more three-dimensional and open. Players will have to glide between platforms that are far apart or have significant height differences using the wingsuit. The combination of “parkour + wingsuit” elevates the gaming experience, and the addition of the wingsuit enhances the character’s mobility, offering more options in combat scenarios and naturally improving the fluidity of combat.
【Cyber Ninja? No, Cyber Samurai!】
The previous installment, with its highly mobile movement and flashy instant kills, was jokingly referred to as a “Genji simulator”. However, in this installment, the protagonist seems more like a lone samurai.
This brings us to the changes made in combat.
Firstly, the game introduces blocking. Players can use stamina to block enemy ranged attacks. After strengthening, they can even block enemy bullets or lasers. For melee enemies, executing a perfect dodge before being hit allows for a finishing move.
Secondly, changes have been made to the skills. While retaining the “Storm” skill from the previous game, “Ghostwalker 2” introduces two more practical skills: “Shuriken” and “Shadow”. “Shuriken” can be used while jumping or sliding, and hitting different targets produces different effects. For example, hitting an oil barrel can create a large AOE, dealing damage to enemies, while hitting elite enemies can immobilize them, allowing for a quick approach and a fatal strike.
“Shadow” allows players to place a decoy to attract enemy attention while entering a short state of invisibility. Although it sounds like a rehash of Genji’s “Deflect” and “Swift Strike”, “Shadow” is used more defensively in the game. Additionally, the “Recovery” ability has been significantly enhanced, reducing the cooldown time and allowing players to quickly re-enter combat after a mistake.
However, despite all these improvements, the balance of the game still needs to be addressed. For instance, due to the addition of the vehicle and wingsuit, the difficulty of the game has been significantly reduced, particularly in the later stages. Furthermore, the addition of blocking has made combat less challenging. Unlike the previous game, where a single mistake could lead to death, players can now block and deflect enemy attacks, making the game more forgiving. The increase in the number of enemies and their aggressiveness does not compensate for the reduction in difficulty, resulting in a less challenging and satisfying experience.
In summary, “Ghostwalker 2” is a sequel that aims to surpass its predecessor. While it does bring a host of new gameplay elements and a more expansive worldview, the excessive addition of filler content has made the game feel somewhat bloated, resulting in a loss of the fast-paced excitement of the first installment.
The story, world-building, and dialogue are all excellent, but the combat has become less challenging and engaging. While the new gameplay elements are refreshing, they also create new problems that need to be addressed.
Ultimately, “Ghostwalker 2” is a game worth trying for fans of the first installment, but it may not be as satisfying as the original.