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Video Game / Ghostrunner

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Welcome to the future.
It's gonna kill you.

Ghostrunner is a first person action platformer developed by One More Level and Slipgate Ironworks, produced by 3D Realms, and published by 505 Interactive and and All in! Games. The game's soundtrack was composed by Daniel Deluxe, and it was released on October 27, 2020 for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S in 2021.

The player takes the role of a Ghostrunner, a Cyber Ninja who was defeated and left for dead after failing to prevent a coup d'etat by a woman known as Mara, The Keymaster, who wants to control what is left of humanity. Now you must slice through her underlings while performing copious amounts of Combat Parkour, but be careful - one hit from an enemy will instantly kill you.


Ghostrunner contains examples of:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Zoe calls the Ghostrunner Jack, apparently after a comment her friend Diego made about him being "all jacked up" when they were repairing him. The Ghostrunner eventually takes it as his actual name in his final confrontation with the Architect.
  • After the End: The game is set after an event known as The Burst, causing the atmosphere to be full of radioactive dust that requires constant filtering.
  • All There in the Manual: The official names of each enemy type aren't spelled out in-game, but you can find them in the game achievements list as well as online gameplay guides.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Dharma City has huge ones which the Ghostrunner has to fight his way through. Justified in that they filter radioactive air from outside for the people in Dharma City to breathe.
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  • Always Night: Averted. In at least one point of the game, you can look outside to see a blue sky. However, the whole journey takes place inside a giant walled-off city where the only light sources are artificially generated.
  • Amnesiac Hero: The Ghostrunner.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Several of the hidden collectibles, along with one of the rewards of clearing the second boss, are just re-skins for your sword that don't change anything but its look. Not to say they don't look damn cool, though.
  • Artificial Limbs: The Ghostrunner's left arm is replaced by a crude mechanical version after the original was ripped off by Mara. Zoe also mentions having a limb implant, though given her status as a Voice with an Internet Connection, we never actually see it until she appears in the ending animatic.
  • Attack Drone: One enemy variant, which Jack can jump onto and pilot into enemies on the ground.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: The final conflict between the Architect and the Ghostrunner happens in a cyberspace area within the Ghostrunner's cyborg mind, as each fights for control of his body.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Mara/The Keymaster and Adam/The Architect are both competing with each other for supreme control of the Tower, while also planning to exploit its citizens to their own ends.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Ghostrunner shuts down with his deleting of the Architect, destroying Cybervoid, and humanity is still stuck within Dharma City for the foreseeable future. However, humanity is free to make their own future as much as they can without the manipulations of Mara or the Architect, and the Ghostrunner's arm is shown to start moving.
  • The Blank: The Ghostrunner has no face, only a visored head.
  • Blow You Away: The Tempest ability does this.
  • Brain Uploading: How the Architect was created. It is a digital copy of Adam, co-founder of Dharma City.
  • Bullet Time: The Ghostrunner can invoke this to dodge bullets.
  • Camera Abuse: Every time the Ghostrunner kills an enemy, the camera is splattered with their blood.
  • Chicken Walker: Another type of enemy variant that can launch horizontal blasts at the Ghostrunner.
  • Combat Parkour: A key gameplay mechanic in this game. The player must perform lots of wallrunning in order to traverse the environment and avoid projectiles from enemy weapons.
  • Cyberpunk: The game is set in a massive futuristic city that encompasses multiple stories, and climbing the buildings of the aforementioned city is an essential part of the player's journey.
  • Cyberpunk Is Techno: Ghostrunner's pounding synth soundtrack embodies this, courtesy of Daniel Deluxe.
  • Cyber Ninja: The player character, basically.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Inverted. Jack was always a machine, but because of the modifications made to him by the Climbers, he begins to develop more humanlike traits.
  • Cyberspace: Certain platforming segments of gameplay take place in a dazzling digital world.
  • Deadpan Snarker: As he's only a voice in the Ghostrunner's head, the Architect never hesitates to cynically snipe at Zoe's transmissions.
    • The Ghostrunner takes on this role as he becomes more self-aware.
  • Deflector Shields: Some enemies have this, and the power source generating it needs to be destroyed before they can be killed.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: The Ghostrunner is programmed not to use guns. When he complains about it, the Architect claims that Katanas Are Just Better, as they won't accidentally destroy the Tower's remaining technology from stray fire and collateral damage, while the Ghostrunner is supposedly "fully equipped to deal with every manner of projectile". The Ghostrunner retorts that the Architect clearly has never been in a fight, which he agrees upon without seeming to grasp what that actually means.
  • Evil Knockoff: Second boss Hel is this for the Ghostrunner, replete with similar abilities but less sophistication.
  • Exposition Fairy: Both the Architect and Zoe function as this.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: The final shot of the game is the Ghostrunner, supposedly shut down after deleting the Architect, tightening his grip on his sword.
  • Flash Step: The Blink ability lets you perform this.
  • Flying Face: The Architect appears as a floating blue face.
  • Glass Cannon: You kill enemy combatants with only one strike, but you also die after being hit once.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: The Ghostrunner can shoot out an electric blue cord that functions as this.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: The Ghostrunner, due to the modifications made to him by the Climbers.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The cyborg ninja enemies you encounter midway through the game inexplicably shout a few phrases of Japanese.
  • Hand Seals: Made by the Ghostrunner when using his special abilities or hacking machinery.
  • I Call It "Vera": The Architect apparently nicknamed his T-073-M security system "TOM". The variant here is that he doesn't use it: instead, he helps you to destroy his creation because Mara managed to reactivate it.
  • In the Hood: The Ghostrunner.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Ghostrunner has a variant of this with the upgrades, which need to be slotted into boxes in a Tetris-like configuration.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The Architect refers to the ones the Ghostrunner wields as Tsuru-GR weapons, the pinnacle of engineering, and instruments fine-tuned to the Ghostrunners' systems.
  • Laser Sight: Some sniper enemies have this, conveniently telling you when you need to run and hide to avoid getting shot.
  • Last of His Kind: There used to be 100 Ghostrunners. By the start of the game almost all of them are dead or have gone missing, and the player character is the only one remaining who is taking the fight to the top of the Tower. Played with for the second boss, Hel - she is a fully robotic creation based on Ghostrunner technology to serve Mara. Of the three bosses she's by far the most difficult, as she's more than a match for the player character's skills and must be defeated without dying even once.
  • Literal Disarming: Mara does this to the Ghostrunner in the opening when she tears off his left arm.
  • Mad Scientist: Mara.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Mara's lab is this. The floors are also strewn with huge puddles of blood.
  • Man in the Machine: It's unclear to what extent, but the Ghostrunner possesses both mechanical and biological components, as evidence by how he bleeds when his arm is ripped off in the opening. The Architect says he was specially engineered from a single cell.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The Architect's entire plan revolves around manipulating the ghostrunner through lies and ommission of crucial details about his situation.
  • Minimalist Cast: Aside from the Ghostrunner himself, the only characters that appear are the Architect/Adam, Mara, Zoe, and Hel.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: Mara/The Keymaster is this, possessing several mechanical Combat Tentacles and Glowing Mechanical Eyes.
    • Also applies to the exploding mechanical spider-people that hound Jack in levels near the end of the game.
  • Mooks: The Keys are this, being thugs who were armed by Mara who Jack plows through by the dozen by the end of the game.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Delivered by the Ghostrunner as he finishes off the Architect during their Battle in the Center of the Mind.
    The Architect: No! NO! I will not be deleted by a mere tool! I forbid you, Ghostrunner!
    The Ghostrunner: My name is Jack.
  • Mysterious Past: Subverted. The Ghostrunner asks about his past several times, but it turns out that he was biologically grown to be a Ghostrunner, and therefore had no past before becoming what he is now.
  • Neon City: The upper levels of Dharma City look like this.
  • No Mouth: Neither Jack nor Hel have mouths, which begs the question of how they can talk.
  • Not So Different: Mara/The Keymaster and Adam/The Architect, both of whom were responsible for the founding of the Tower, have now lost their original human forms, possess grand goals to forcibly save humanity regardless of what their citizens actually want, and employ Ghostrunners to carry out their plans for control.
  • Neural Implanting: The implant Atma is said to have been mandatory for all citizens before the coup, and Zoe takes advantage of this to hack and send false instructions to the Keys. The final ability, Overlord, grants Jack the power to temporarily turn one enemy into an ally using the same implant.
  • Nice Girl: Zoe, who tries her best to help the Ghostrunner on his quest and is implied to be a sort of Morality Pet for him.
  • Obviously Evil: Both Mara and Hel have Glowing Mechanical Eyes and freakishly mechanical bodies with lots of reds and blacks in case you were doubting they were villains.
  • Off with His Head!: How the Ghostrunner finishes off Hel.
  • One-Hit Point Wonder: You, and the vast majority of your enemies. A single bullet is enough to send you back the the nearest checkpoint, while your sword can cleanly cleave through just about anyone.
  • Parrying Bullets: The Ghostrunner acquires an upgrade that allows for this and reflecting bullets back at enemies.
  • People Jars: Mara is using these to store humans so she can meld them with machines.
  • Power Fist: Close-combat Keys are armed with one of these, and will launch themselves into the air to smash Jack from above.
  • The Quiet One: The Ghostrunner is this, and Zoe even lampshades it.
    Zoe: You don't talk much, huh? Still, it's good to hear your voice. I've been trying to make it happen for a year.
  • Rotten Robotic Replacement: The Architect is this for the original founder of Dharma City, Adam. Mara doesn't hesitate to call him out for being a soulless replacement for her former partner, though there's no shortage of irony in this given her own plans for the city.
  • Self-Duplication: A variation of late-game enemies is capable of this, and the player has to cut through each one until the original is killed in order for the rest of the clones to disintegrate.
  • Sentry Gun: These become increasingly common near the end of the game, and must be destroyed in order to free up the passages their lasers are usually pointed towards.
  • Skyscraper City: Dharma City is the most extreme version of this, being a singular massive skyscraper housing all of Earth's remaining humans.
  • Stock Ninja Weaponry: The Ghostrunner not only fights with a katana, he also sometimes gains shurikens to throw at enemies and door-opening buttons.
  • Suicide Attack: A particularly chilling enemy type faced in later levels are the skeletal monstrosities produced by Mara's experiments, which can climb on walls and chase after Jack while breathing heavily and explode when they get near enough.
  • Sword Beam: One of the abilities the Ghostrunner acquires, Surge.
  • Teleport Spam: Shifters are purple endgame enemies which teleport around the field and launch projectiles at Jack.
  • The Unchosen One: The Ghostrunner is actually a basic model with no inherent special abilities that some of his fellow cyborgs were lucky enough to possess. Even his number code (number 74) is unremarkable.
  • Unwilling Roboticization: Mara's end goal for the people of the Tower, as it is the only thing that will allow them to live in the outside world.
  • Urban Segregation: The poorer residents live in the lower, warehouse-like levels of the tower, while the richer residents live above in a neon metropolis. Supposedly, skilled individuals could move up, but when Zoe ponders if she could do this as an engineer, the Architect merely scoffs at her.
  • Used Future: The Tower apparently has seen better days, and Architect bemoans what's become of it under the Keymaster's leadership, as production and quality of life continues to drop.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Two — the Architect, a Virtual Ghost that's downloaded itself into the Ghostrunner, who provides background on the Tower's construction and politics; and Zoe, the seeming Sole Survivor of the The Climbers, a group that attempted to resist the Keymaster's tyranny, and explains the current situation.
  • Weapon Twirling: While running, the Ghostrunner will occasionally twirl or spin his sword.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Architect attempts to take over and delete the Ghostrunner's mind after Mara is defeated. He fails.


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