Ghostrunner: Project_Hel review (PS5)

Ghostrunner released at the tail end of 2020, but we had to wait until now for its first story-driven expansion. Project_Hel is out for all systems now, and we played it on a PlayStation 5.

You may have seen other DLC releases for Ghostrunner, but they’ve been cosmetic in nature. Project_Hel adds new story campaign, featuring a lot of the excellent level design that we know from the first game and another cyber ninja as the main protagonist. It’s a change of perspective though, as we now control Hel, one of the bosses in the first game. That comes with a new slight change in moveset, as well as a shift in time – the events in Project_Hel take place before the ones in the main game.

The emphasis on agility and quick reflexes as you parkour your way around the game is the same though, as is an absolutely brutal level of difficulty. If you’ve played the base game, then you’ll remember Hel is one of the bosses in it, and this expansion focuses on her desire to crush an uprising with brutal force. The story delivery is once again through voiceovers that play as you go along, so it’s familiar ground for Ghostrunner veterans.

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Project_Hel is quite a bit shorter than the original campaign though, featuring only five levels that are home to two big boss fights. If you’re anything like us that’s still good for a few hours of gameplay, but those are extremely good at Ghostrunner will likely find that the story is over too soon for them. Part of that is because Hel’s controls are a stripped down version of the original game, expanding upon the base controls rather than adding new ones. What that means is that you’ll have access to very “special attacks” this time, around, but you’re more agile – with higher and further jumps. For us, where the specials would regularly feel like too much stuff happening at once in the original game, this was a blessing. For others, it’ll feel constraining in a way.

Hel does add a few new tricks to your arsenal though. You get a shield that will be able to absorb one hit before needing a recharge, for once. If you were running into a lot of one hit kills, that’s a great asset. Later on, you’ll also need to rely on a projectile attack, which is a nice change of pace from the melee-focused combat that’s the heart of the experience. And before you think Project_Hel is completely different – no, you still have your katana, and you’ll still be wall-running and dodging stuff in bullet time mode.

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In fact, Project_Hel offers exactly what Ghostrunner did in many ways. That includes truly excellent level design which always manages to feel frustratingly difficult but at the same time manageable, instilling that “one more try and I’ll get it!” feel in players. It’s also visually quite similar, with familiar enemies and locations as you proceed up Dharma Tower. Playing on a PlayStation 5 it ran very smoothly with some lovely visual effects we didn’t have in the PS4 version. When we first played Ghostrunner on the PS5 it was prone to crashing and messed up audio, but those issues seem to have also been fixed – we didn’t run into any issues with Project_Hel.

If you enjoyed Ghostrunner then you can consider Project_Hel to be a very focused smaller scale campaign that features a new protagonist with a very specific combat-centered moveset. It’s on the short side for advanced Ghostrunners, but most players will find three to four hours of content here.

Score: 7.5/10

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