Ghostrunner: Project Hel review – This cyber samurai lacks some bite
Ghostrunner makes living out your Terminator fantasy an absolute joy, and its all-new DLC, Project Hel, is no different. Unfortunately, that’s kind of the problem.
From the moment I stepped foot in the cybernetic world of 505 Games’ Ghostrunner I was hooked. Based in a neo-dystopian world packed to bursting with enemies that are just waiting to be torn asunder, the booming bass of the electronic-style soundtrack mixed with the glowing LEDs of my keyboard and mouse made me feel like I was literally living in 2077.
Project Hel is no different. Centering around familiar Terminator-inspired protagonist, Hel (one of Ghostrunner’s original bosses), this merciless machine is on a mission to descend Dharma Tower and slaughter everything in her wake. Commanding this terrifying terror gives you a burst of adrenaline because she’s just so lethal.
Despite a new character and stunning visuals, unfortunately, Ghostrunner Project Hel lives up to its name in just being more Ghostrunner. While that’s great for fans of the game, those expecting something revolutionary might not be too pleased.
Ghostrunner Project Hel: Key details
- Price:$14.99 / €14,99 / £12.49
- Developer: 505 Games
- Release Date: March 3, 2022
- Platforms: PlayStation / Switch / Xbox / PC
Ghostrunner Project Hel: Trailer
Hel hath no fury
Of course, we have to talk a little bit about Hel, our ruthless robotic protagonist who is on a quest for blood. Named after the Norse Goddess of death, she’s a particularly creepy-looking cyborg that blends human and machine into one vindictive creature. In short: Hel is just straight-up bad.
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As you journey through the Test Run zone, Mara (the base game’s penultimate boss) asks Hel a series of questions, most of which the answers seem obvious. When asked whether she would protect a child from a snake, she shows no interest in saving their life. Given a scenario of protecting three VIP guests but one runs off, she chooses to kill them for their insolence as she has “already failed” in her mission to protect them.
There is nothing human about Hel, and that’s why she’s just so much fun to play. She’s so far removed from anything we’ll (hopefully) ever encounter in real life, instantly transporting you to a world very different from our own.
Beautiful scenery, but more of the same
Of course, we can praise Ghostrunner over and over again for its imaginative, immersive scenery, but we are back in Dharma Tower. While much of the interior has been reworked, most of the gameplay remains the exact same: wall run, bounce around, solve puzzles, and, of course, kill things.
This time around it simply feels less exciting because we’ve done it all before. Sure you get that little burst of adrenaline when you soar through the air and slice unsuspecting enemies in two, but eventually, it just all melds into one.
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Bosses feel a little lackluster as, again, they’re just more of the same, and some weird bugs and glitches make the experience a little frustrating. I saw guards run without moving their legs and Hel kept getting stuck on random pieces of scenery where I was easy pickings for a well-aimed raygun blast.
While Hel does come with an all-new set of abilities, you quickly fall into the same rhythm you did with Jack and these become second nature. She can jump higher, and for longer distances, as well as make use of a new ‘Rage ‘mechanic. This gauge fills up with rapid-fire kills and buffs Hel — adding a shield and a new aerial attack. It can be upgraded, too, letting players scope out enemies through walls.
Nothing here is game-changing for Ghostrunner fans, but it feeds into the fantasy of playing as a sentient death machine.
While Ghostrunner Project Hel is certainly an achievement given that it started out as a small DLC, it seems like a stepping stone that will only placate fans for a little while.
Hel herself is an interesting character brimming with complex hatred so inhuman that she feels nothing like any character we’ve played before, but even her intriguing personality doesn’t make up for the fact that Project Hel is simply more of the same.
For the price, it’s worth a go for both avid and casual fans, but there’s nothing revolutionary here. Just make sure you watch out for the snake in the grass – Hel certainly isn’t doing it for you.
Reviewed on PC