The cyberpunk genre is rich with stories and worlds for players to explore. Ghostrunner, a game in development by One More Level, looks to add its unique voice to this subgenre. Thanks to the series of tubes we call the internet, I got to sit down with a few of the developers and pick their brain about their inspirations from the cyberpunk genre.
As soon as players get their hands on Ghostrunner, the inspiration is obvious. I was immediately taken to the many worlds I’ve visited in the cyberpunk genre. I was taken to the neon-lit and rainy streets of Blade Runner, where Deckard ate noodles. I was whisked away to Neuromancer where Case plunged through the matrix as he desperately tried to aid Wintermute.
The team has worked hard to embrace the genre without becoming just another copy. “There is plenty of inspiration, and I think it would be dishonest to deny that, and we’re not going to deny it and we shouldn’t.” Jan Gąsior Narrative Designer at One More Level says. “Because you see, well we love the genre, we love cyberpunk, we took what we loved about it, and we – at least we’re trying, I think we’re managing to do it – we’re not trying to imitate things, we’re trying to be inspired.” And this inspiration is felt throughout the whole experience. While I was taken to the noodle stall in Blade Runner, it wasn’t as a hardboiled detective, it was as a quasi-ninja, slicing and dicing its way through soldiers.
Part of being transported to these familiar worlds is the imagery used in Ghostrunner. Street signs brighten the dark alleys with their advertisements written in both English and Japanese (as well as a myriad of other languages). This is a theme seen often in the likes of Blade Runner, which itself is influenced by expectations of what cyberpunk should be.
In Ghostrunner, not only does this world have a visual Asian-influence, the reason for this is woven into the very fabric of the story. The man who built Dharma Tower, the area where players will be spending their time slicing enemies to pieces, favoured the Asian aesthetic to the point where the Cybervoid (Ghostrunner’s digital representation of cyber security) takes on an ancient Japanese style.
The pathways in the Ghostrunner’s Cybervoid are lined by torii, a traditional Japanese gate, while impressive pagoda-like structures offer complex internal jumping puzzles and access to vistas of the digital realm.
On the topic of the Asian-influence, Jan explains, “This is also one of the staples of cyberpunk genre. You can just take a look at any scene or frame from Blade Runner, there are plenty of Japanese signs. I’d say this is part of the genre’s identity.” And this is true. Japanese imagegry is an exceptionally common element in the cyberpunk genre, and Ghostrunner certainly wouldn’t feel the same without it.
Though it is firmly rooted in the cyberpunk genre, Ghostrunner’s not stagnant or limited by what’s come before. The whole combat and movement system elevates the experience and ensures Ghostrunner is unlike any other game within the genre. Make sure to check out our Ghostrunner hands-on preview for a full rundown of what to expect from this game when it launches this year.