A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ghostrunner is a downloadable sci-fi cyberpunk first-person action game available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and Windows based PCs. Players run through a futuristic city in parkour style, dodging attacks and killing any enemies in their way. There's a high level of difficulty due not only to the game's controls, but especially due to it's "one hit, one kill" mechanic which leaves little to no room for error. Violence is not only constant but graphic, with close up views of enemies getting cut into pieces, complete with showers of blood and viscera. Parents should also be aware that various enemies will taunt the player with profanity, which also appears occasionally in the main dialogue of the game.
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What's it about?
GHOSTRUNNER is a futuristic action game that seamlessly blends the speed and maneuverability of parkour with the action and brutality of close-quarters combat. In a distant post-apocalyptic future, the surviving remnants of humanity call Dharma Tower home. The massive megastructure was originally designed to protect and provide for its people. But that was before the coup, and before the reign of the tyrannical Keymaster began. Now society has collapsed into chaos and violence, as the strong prey on the weak under the Keymaster's rule. You were once a Ghostrunner, one of the elite bodyguards tasked with protecting the Architect, the original creator of Dharma Tower. When the coup happened, the Architect was assassinated and you were tossed from the top of the tower to the Base, the lowest levels of the tower which is a place that only the downtrodden and refuse can call home. Discovered by a rising rebellion, you were rebuilt as a weapon to fight back against the Keymaster. Working with these rebels, as well as an AI ghost of the Architect still lurking within the system, it's up to you to make your way back up through the floors of Dharma Tower and bring down the Keymaster once and for all. But be wary. One wrong move means certain death. Do you have what it takes to survive?
Is it any good?
Failure isn't always just an option, it's sometimes an inevitability. At least that's the case with Ghostrunner, because this game is unforgivingly hard. The controls feel awkward and unintuitive at first, going completely against anything familiar in the first-person action genre. And then there's the punishing one-hit, one-kill mechanic, which is great when it comes to taking out enemies but not so much when you realize the same rule applies to you as well. These elements alone make for a learning curve that's more like a sheer vertical climb. But despite all of this, it's insanely fun to play and nearly impossible to put down. With practice and patience, the controls feel more natural and before too long, you're moving in fluid combos that feel like a real accomplishment.
Ghostrunner is gorgeous, with that mix of grime and neon that's almost a staple of the cyberpunk genre. The visuals are crisp and detailed, and more importantly, keep up with the rapid pace of the game. In fact, once everything clicks, keeping up with the movements is almost too dizzying to follow. This can cause its own set of problems, with the game moving so fast that it's easy to miss things like alternate paths or hidden collectibles with no way to backtrack. It can also make it difficult to see exactly where an enemy is, leading to a quick end from a stray shot seemingly out of nowhere. Which leads to comba, because all players need to do is get one good swing in on an enemy and they're toast. But some enemies use things like shields to block players' attacks, requiring more strategy and maneuvering to get in strikes. Thankfully, upgrades can be found and configured to give players an edge, such as reflecting bullets back at enemies or gaining an extra time-slowing Dash. While these upgrades and abilities help to level the playing field a bit, there's never a moment that you're not still the underdog. Still, as frustrating as your climb through Dharma Tower might seem, progress is always right around the corner and one more life away.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Ghostrunner affected by the amount of blood and gore in the game? What level of violence is acceptable to parents for kids of various ages? What sort of impact can graphic violence have on younger audiences?
What are some ways that we can learn from the mistakes we make? How can we apply that knowledge to future circumstances?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: 505 Games
- Release date: October 27, 2020
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Robots
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Violence
- Last updated: October 28, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.