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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, in a very similar fashion to Hotline Miami, which is one the largest source of inspiration for Ghostrunner.

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A Prequel DLC titled Project_HEL was released on March 3, 2022.


Ghostrunner contains examples of:

  • Advanced Movement Technique:
    • The Ghostrunner's dash move can be cancelled into a slide, retaining the dash's momentum into the slide to travel faster for much further. Sliding off a ledge in this manner and then jumping lets the player retain momentum for even longer.
    • After running off a ledge, there is a brief moment where the Ghostrunner can still jump. When moving sufficiently fast, this Anti Frustration Feature can actually be abused to weave beneath a hazard on the same level as a ledge without losing enough height to get onto an opposite platform.
  • 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.
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  • 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-Dashing: You can propel yourself forward in the air to clear large gaps, smash into air-borne enemies, or simply move a little faster. There's also a unique air-dash you can perform if you slowing time. Whatever direction you're facing when the slow-down ends, you'll be launched in that direction, allowing you to totally inverse your momentum and move your character with the air-dash in ways most players couldn't in real time.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Dharma Tower 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 Tower to breathe.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Heroic subversion. The Ghostrunner was meant to be a mindless if effective security robot, but as you progress, he exhibits more and more of a personality, empathy, and self-determination until he actively revolts against the Architect when he realizes that Adam is just as callous and cruel as Mara.
  • 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 wakes up with no memory of who or what it is at the start of the game. The Architect offers you a bit of insight into your background, but it's clear he has own motives and may be hiding aspects of your past to his own benefit.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The hard mode version of the game, unlocked after beating it once, will skip the Cybervoid puzzle levels and the mid-level radio chatter. Cybervoid puts a damper on the pace — providing good breathing room during a first playthrough but being repetitive and flowbreaking on second plays — and the radio chatter can easily prove annoying after hearing it once for the story.
  • Arcology: The game is set in Dharma Tower, a city in the form of a single massive tower and the last refuge of humanity after an apocalypse.
  • 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.
  • Attack Reflector: The Tempest ability lets you shoot a gust of force that sends any enemy projectiles in a short-range flying back towards their sender.
  • 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 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 Tower 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.
  • Blade Brake: After the first phase of TOM’s boss battle, the Ghostrunner breaks his fall to the bottom of the arena by stabbing his cyber katana into the wall and sliding down.
  • The Blank: The Ghostrunner has no face, only a visored head.
  • Blood Knight: Hel shows a fair few signs of this in the DLC, responding to one of her targets refusal to surrender with a simple "Good".
  • Blow You Away: The Tempest ability lets you fire a short, but wide blast of wind that kills any enemy caught within it. It's one of the only AOE attacks the Ghostrunner has in his arsenal.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy: The Ghostrunner would have no way to defeat Mara in her boss fight if she didn't have four electric generators lying around that can destroy her Combat Tentacles on contact.
  • Boss-Only Level: Each of the three bosses get their own level that begins and ends with their fight. This is very convenient for if you want to replay the boss fights through level select without powering through all the platforming and enemy waves that precede them.
  • Bottomless Pits: Since you spend the whole game ascending an impossibly tall skyscraper, falling off a ledge or platform into a seemingly endless fall is an easy way to die. Not that you have to wait long, the killboxes are low enough that you'll die the second you're out of reach of any more platforms, no long plummeting animation required.
  • Brain Uploading: The Architect is a digital copy of Adam, co-founder of Dharma Tower. He insists that he's the real deal, for all intents and purposes, but others in the game question whether he has the soul of the original.
  • Bullet Time: The Ghostrunner can invoke slow-motion 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.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Well, DLC rather than sequel, but nevertheless - Where the Ghostrunner displays compassion and a growing sense of self and humanity over the main game, Hel in the DLC campaign answers questions designed to test its mental stability like an absolute psychopath, and emphasizes that it does not consider itself a person or alive. About the only thing they share is defiance of their creators, but even then, where Jack goes against the Architect to stop his plan for a utilitarian dictatorship with Mind Control, Hel defies Mara seemingly so it can kill indiscriminately, only intending to target Mara because she wouldn't let Hel roam free to do as it pleased.
  • Cores-and-Turrets Boss: The first boss, TOM, is essentially a single core held in a shell by two cables that are protecting by an ever-moving laser grid. To beat the boss, you have to jump across floating platforms and run up the walls of the room while dodging lasers and electric shockwaves to get to the cables and cut the core loose. Once it comes loose and hits the floor, you can go to town on it... if you can get close without its final laser defense skewering you.
  • 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. He fights hordes of enemies by running on walls and leaping at them with his blade, as well as cybernetic abilities that let him hack tech around him and shoot lasers.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Inverted. Jack was always a bio-machine, but (supposedly) because of the modifications made to him by the Climbers, he expresses 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 increasingly snarks back over the course of the game.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying just sets you back to right before the current encounter, with no chance of starting the whole level over or running out of Video-Game Lives. You can even respawn the second you die, letting you get right back into the gameplay without having to watch a death animation or go to a game over screen.
  • Defiant to the End: Combined with Driven to Suicide for the playable Hel in the DLC. Mara orders it killed by the newest iteration of itself, and Hel decides it would rather fling itself into molten metal than allow its data to be taken by its copy.
  • 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.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: A variation of the basic human Mook will teleport and create five illusory copies of itself. The copies' gunshots are harmless, but the real one's aren't, and killing the real one will dismiss all of the copies.
  • Enemy Chatter: The keys can be heard warning each others when one of them spot the Ghostrunner.
  • Evil Knockoff: The second boss, Hel, is a near-doppelganger for the Ghostrunner, replete with similar abilities but less sophistication.
  • Exposition Fairy: Being a digital record of a dead inventor, the Architect can only help you by telling you information about the levels you're in (all of which he built), the main villain and her Mooks (who he used to employ), and your many abilities (which he designed when creating you). He is particularly talkative during the tutorial sections you go through in Cyberspace after unlocking a new power.
  • Faceless Goons: All the enemies you fight wear masks and hoods that obscure their faces, so you forget they're humans rather than drones or robots.
  • 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.
  • Flynning: The only way to get Hel to open up and take damage is by repeatedly clashing sword strikes with her, in a video game version of this trope. Clash enough times and her guard is thrown off.
  • 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 has free will enough to destroy the Architect despite his programming, potentially 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 wears a black hood in the vein of many edgy sci-fi protagonists before him.
  • In a Single Bound: The high jump power-up lets the Ghostrunner rocket maybe forty feet up in the air and launch forward with almost as much force. You only get one high jump per power-up though, and you only have a few seconds to use it. It is mainly used in platforming sections for some variety, but it also appears in a few battles to let you get the jump on enemies picking you off from the opposite side of the field.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: The game has a variant of this with the upgrades, which need to be slotted into boxes in a Tetris-like configuration. Each upgrade takes up a different amount of space, with better upgrades taking the most space in the most inconvenient shape. You start the game out with maybe a quarter of the full grid, but even at the end of the game, you can have at most seven-to-eight upgrades at a time with the space you got.
  • 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. It's also implied that its actually because he doesn't really know a lot about fighting.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: The ninja enemies can block your swords attacks from any angle, unlike every other enemy in the game. The only way to kill them is to use your special attacks or to parry one of their one sword swings to and counter-attack.
  • 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 potentially 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 tears off the left arm of the Ghostrunner in the opening.
  • Mad Scientist: Mara is an engineer who killed her mentor and slaughtered his security force with her self-made Combat Tentacles. Now, she rules over the world of the game with her army of cybernetic minions while also kidnapping people to be made victims of her deadly experiments.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Mara's lab. The floors are also covered 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 evidenced 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.
  • Mirror Character: 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 save humanity regardless of what their citizens actually want, and employ Ghostrunners to carry out their plans for control.
  • 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.
  • Mook Horror Show: Lampshaded by Zoe when she comments how ridiculously outmatched and underequipped the Keys really are to deal with Jack.
  • 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.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: You get the Surge ability from the boss Hel, but while you have to fill up a meter by killing a dozen or so enemies to use it once, she can use the ability over and over and over in her boss fight without killing a single thing.
  • 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 Tower look like this.
  • New Game+: After completing the game, you can start over with all of the upgrades and power-ups you have in the endgame. You can also activate the new difficulty setting that Arrange Modes the main campaign: late-game enemies start appearing from the beginning, some puzzles and backtracking is eliminated, and hazards and powerups get shuffled around to provide new or harder challenges.
  • No Mouth: Neither Jack nor Hel have mouths, which begs the question of how they can talk.
  • 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!: The Ghostrunner finishes off Hel by slicing off her head and grabbing it mid-air to get a better look at it.
  • 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.
    Ghostrunner: [softly] Thank you.
  • Rocket-Tag Gameplay: Ghostrunner can be considered a 3D version of Katana ZERO in this regard: the titular character is an agile and powerful Glass Cannon who destroys nearly every opponent in one hit, but can be killed the same way. Like the example above, there are exceptions, like ninjas who know how to parry and stay on their positions before striking, requiring to attack them in the operation, other enemies simply carrying a shield, or the three bosses who actually have a health bar. This game also has a Bullet Time to dodge bullets, but it doesn't mean you won't die and retry.
  • Rotten Robotic Replacement: The Architect is this for the original founder of Dharma Tower, 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.
  • 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.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: The Overlord upgrade allows you to turn one enemy to your side for a short time and have them kill their allies. The in-universe explanation for this is that the Ghostrunner is hacking the neural implants of all these enemies.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: One enemy has a laser shield that blocks your sword and sends you flying backwards if you come into contact with the shield. You either have to use one of your special attacks to get past the shield or run around to hit enemy's back.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: It's implied that the reason the Hel of the main game is relatively unskilled and lacking in personality compared to the Hel of the DLC is a result of the playable Hel's refusal to allow the newest Hel to take its data, leaping into molten metal instead. As Mara remarks that it takes a month to properly teach a Hel how to do its job properly, and the main game takes place a day later at absolute most, the playable Hel going rogue when it did made Jack's job significantly easier.
  • Skyscraper City: Dharma Tower 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.
    • The Ghostrunner is notably annoyed that these are his only options in a fight, and calls his creator out on programming him to use these alone.
  • 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. He learns this from the second boss, Hel, who also created lasers whenever she swung her sword.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: The only reason you can beat Mara in her boss fight is because she keeps stabbing at you with Combat Tentacles while you're standing right beside a generator. You can easily dodge her telegraphed attack and watch her get electrocuted four times without her taking the hint that she should stop this particular form of attack.
  • Technopath: The Ghostrunner's "hacking" abilities really manifest in the ability to move and control certain pieces of machinery and floating platforms with nothing but a wave of his hand.
  • Teleport Spam: Shifters are purple endgame enemies which teleport around the field and launch projectiles at Jack.
  • Timed Power-Up: Each of the power-ups has a blue meter that depletes so long as you have the power-up. Each lasts a few seconds, with the high jump power up going the fastest and disappearing as soon as you use it.
  • Time Stands Still: The first power-up you encounter causes time to slow down enough for you to walk through a crazy-fast giant fan without getting sliced in half. You mainly get this power-up in areas with those giant fans, but there are also a few times you get it when surrounded by enemies and you can take your time running circles around their bullets and cutting them down.
  • The Unchosen One: The Ghostrunner is actually a basic model of Ghostrunner with no inherent special abilities that some of his fellow cyborgs were lucky enough to possess, the irony of which the Architect remarks on. 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.
  • Vent Physics: The level where you're trying to save the Base is filled with massive wind turbines that you can lift you way up in the air and aid your platforming. The problem is that some of the vents also risk pushing you off platforms, or if they're above, shoving you straight down a bottomless pit.
  • Video Game Dashing: The Ghostrunner can dash forward once every few seconds, even when he's mid-air or running along the wall. You can get upgrades that allow you to dash a second and third time before the cooldown sets in.
  • Video Game Sliding: You can perform a baseball slide after getting a running star, which is invaluable for dodging enemy projectiles, ducking under obstacles, and building speed on downward slopes.
  • 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.
  • Wall Jump: The Ghostrunner can run along walls and bounce off them, on to another wall, and then bounce again. This is a key part of navigating Dharma Tower, and at times, you'll have to do this off of moving platforms, disintegrating platforms, and even platforms that you spin around with your Technopathy.
  • 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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