The studio’s last game, God’s Trigger, a top-down shooter, also inspired Ghostrunner’s One-Stop-Kill-Mechanicals.
Ghostrunner is a cyberpunk first-person action game that lives up to its title, and even when you die — which will happen a lot — you respawn instantly and have to keep going.
Most enemies die with one hit alone. You move, slash and platform around a cyberpunk world while you ascend the “last shelter of humanity” called Dharma Tower.
Ghostrunner is fun to play and watch due to its utterly bristly pace. The developers invested a lot of time and effort into making the core game loop a satisfying experience. Before the game’s release, Inverse spoke with the development team at One More Level about how they made a fast game so digestible.
Despite Ghostrunner’s cyberpunk setting and first person perspective, director Radek Ratusznik cites 2015 as the best-selling top-down action game known for its quick and satisfying kills as a major source of inspiration. The studio’s last game God’s Trigger, a top-down shooter also inspired Ghostrunner’s One-Stop Kill mechanics.
“You can feel powerful even if you are a fragile character who can also die in a single hit,” said Ratusznik’s Inverse. Whenever you are slicing enemies through it is always very satisfying.
The developers avoided making enemies feel like mushy sponges — or shard sponges — because this substantially slows down the pace of the game in this case. “You get a feeling of achievement when you are dying a lot but are still figuring out different ideas on how to deal with the enemies and what to do next,” he said.
There are bosses and some tougher enemies that change this one-hit kill mechanic together with enemies that have shields or projectiles that force the player to change up their maneuvers and use right timing attacks or special abilities. Inverse has yet to see what any of the bosses of the game are, but Radek promises that they aren’t just “one hit and you’re done” matters.
Chief Level Designer Marcin Kluzek says that Ghostrunner is a game where you never want to stop moving because “if you stay still, you’ll be dead.”
He direct compared this mechanic to games like Doom and Superhot, where momentum and flow are crucial for survival, something that is also true for Hotline Miami. Ghostrunner incentives momentum with forgiving checkpoints, fair enemies and one-hit kill combat and rewards quick thinking. So it seems reasonable that the core platform mechanics need to feel fair and engaging.
In addition to jumping between platforms, players can wall run and even manipulate parts of the environment to advance to the next level. For platforming, the team looked to Titanfall 2 and Mirror’s Edge as examples of games with fast first-person motion that was manageable and not snoozing.
“We’ve paid very close attention to level design to ensure that the next thing is always on the player’s field of view, so you know where you are going,” said Marcin. By having intricately crafted levels and analyzing the story between combats and intense platforming sequences, the developer struck a satisfying, though unpredictable pace for Ghostrunner.