Nov 14, 2020 Written by:Eric Born

Ghostrunner and Aura RGB lighting sync up to keep you on top of the action

Articles: Gaming
Article Tags: Community

In my first 30 seconds of playing Ghostrunner, I flexed my robotic hand, dove from an impossible height to slash down an unsuspecting guard, and scampered across walls over gaping chasms. And that was just the start. Ghostrunner is a non-stop thrill ride of sheer speed, acrobatic movement, and gory one-shot kills.

The ROG hardware on my desk provides an enviably immersive Ghostrunner experience—and that’s not just because of the precise engineering and powerful components. The game integrates with the Aura RGB LED lighting on my laptop and peripherals to communicate key information in my adventures as a fleet-footed cyborg ninja. At every moment, Ghostrunner puts all my hard-earned skills to the test, and ROG gear elevates my gameplay to help me meet the challenge.

Fight to find the truth in a grim dystopian future

In Ghostrunner, you play as Jack, a warrior who can move with superhuman speed thanks to cybernetic enhancements. It’s not clear at the start of the game just how much of his body is robotic and how much is human. The whispers of the Architect guide Jack through the early levels, but it’s clear that this disembodied voice sees him as no more than a tool. He sets Jack on a path to destroy Mara, the ruler of the skyscraper-like Dharma Tower that houses the remnants of humanity. Before long, Jack is contacted by an outsider group who complicates his simple understanding of the battle lines in this grim world.

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Ghostrunner is full of details that hint at a fascinating world, but this is no game for slow-paced exploration. Standing still is a great way to get killed. Most of what I learned about humanity’s grim future, I gleaned from the environment as I hurtled through it at a breakneck pace. Sheer speed was the only thing that kept me alive as I unlocked the abilities I needed for the game’s climactic battles.

Even when I’m running along the sides of industrial containers to launch an attack on an unsuspecting guard, I can’t help but notice that Ghostrunner is a gorgeous game. I’m playing with the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, and its powerful hardware lets me play with a high resolution and maxed-out graphics settings. Ray-traced lighting effects realistically fill the game’s spaces, and its textures look especially sharp on the 4K display. More than that, though, I love how Ghostrunner uses Aura Sync to synchronize all the RGB LEDs on my laptop, mouse, and headset. When all the lights are glowing the same signature soft pink, I feel locked in and ready to roll. 

Effortless 3D platforming made reality

I’ve played a lot of FPS games with platforming mechanics over the years, and none of them felt as polished as Ghostrunner. Jumping puzzles usually feel more natural in 2D sidescrollers where I have a clear view of my feet—and the precarious ledges I want to land on. In a 3D environment, I typically find myself performing some frustrating guesswork as to where my feet are.

Ghostrunner sidesteps this problem with wall running. There are a few sequences that had me jumping on horizontal platforms, but for the most part I made my way across wide gaps and dizzying heights by taking advantage of vertical surfaces. This gravity-defying mechanic turns the enclosed industrial settings of the game into parkour playgrounds. It’s exhilarating to execute a lengthy combo across a full room of obstacles, taking advantage of every surface to move swiftly and decisively.

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Image source: Gamesplanet

The rest of my movement kit is just as well-designed as the wall running. Holding the crouch button while moving puts me into a slide that’s useful for avoiding obstacles and incoming enemy projectiles, but more importantly it lets me build up momentum on downhill slopes for an insane burst of speed. A grappling hook gives me a tool for using pre-defined attach points to swing across gaps and quickly get vertical.

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Sensory Boost, tied to the Shift key, intelligently combines several key functions into one ability. If I tap it while I’m on the ground, it’s a simple dash forward button, good for closing in for a kill. If I hold it while in the air, it’ll slow time for a few seconds, and I can strafe to the right or left to either dodge projectiles or put myself in better position for my next jump. The ability helps me get more distance on a tricky jump, or lets me recover from a move that didn’t go quite as planned. Aura Sync lighting helped me master its timing. While Sensory Boost was active, all my Aura LEDs transitioned to blue. When I saw that change, I knew to release the button to dash forward, even in mid-air.

Dealing death like a professional

Jack’s katana isn’t just for show. Ghostrunner is packed with brutal melee combat. Against an army of guards, soldiers, and robots, I have nothing but cold steel and my cybernetically enhanced body. It’s more than enough.

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Image source: Gamesplanet

In Ghostrunner, everything dies in one hit—Jack included. When I get close enough to an enemy, one swift strike is all it takes to sever limbs in delightfully gruesome takedowns. When I react too slowly to an incoming projectile, though, it’s game over, and the RGB LEDs on the Zephyrus Duo 15 fade to dark red. Thankfully, Ghostrunner doesn’t make me wait to get back into the action when I die. The game gives me infinite lives and drops me right back to the most recent checkpoint without reloading the level. It’s generous with checkpoints, too, so mastering my attack pattern for a room doesn’t require excessive repetition.

Progressing through Ghostrunner has added new abilities in my arsenal. My favorite is Blink. Tapping the ability slows time briefly so that I can target in-range enemies. Once I’ve set it up, I hit attack and my character lunges forward with a brutal swipe of his sword, turning any unlucky flesh between me and my target into a spray of gore and limbs.

Moves like Blink require energy, a resource that regenerates slowly over time. Killing enemies also increases your meter, too, and you don’t lose energy on death. On one occasion, I found myself stymied by a cluster of enemies in a room. I could take down the first two hostiles, but there were two in the back of the room that kept sniping me. After a few tries, my energy meter refilled from my accrued kills, and I pulled off a blink combo to polish off the last two guards that were giving me so much trouble.

There’s an on-screen indicator that signals when I have enough energy to use one of my signature abilities, but I find that I’m more on top of the mechanic when I have Aura integration turned on in the game menu. My system’s lighting changes from its base pink to yellow when my energy bar is full. That visual cue from my hardware helps make sure that I’m taking advantage of my strongest abilities as soon as they’re available.

Learn from the best to be the best

There’s something about Ghostrunner that motivates me to keep trying, even when I’m struggling with a tough platforming sequence or cluster of enemies. It’s so satisfying to find the approach that takes me to the next challenge. After a few play sessions, I really started to feel the flow and rhythm of movement and combat.

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Image source: Gamesplanet

During a break from the action, I headed over to Twitch to see how other people were faring. That break taught me just how high the skill ceiling is in this game. I felt pretty good about my methodical progress through the levels, but my jaw was on the floor as I watched speedrunners make short work of the game’s most difficult sequences. They abuse the movement mechanics to open up alternative routes and strategies that I wouldn’t have ever imagined. Since wall-running works on basically any vertical surface, they’ve found startling opportunities to get creative and bypass entire sections of the map. I might not have the otherworldly reflexes necessary to pull off some of their moves, but there’s a lot that I’m anxious to try out on my own.

With its fascinating cyberpunk world, unexpected plot twists, fantastic combat, and unparalleled 3D platforming, Ghostrunner has kept me mesmerized, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. A straight playthrough has been satisfying enough, but I’m eager to hone my skills further and take things to the next level. This game might make a speedrunner out of me yet.

Ghostrunner is a thrill any way that you play it, but if you have an extensive Aura lighting setup, you’re in for a treat. Your Aura-compatible ROG laptop, desktop, components, or peripherals will give you the best way to experience this one-of-a-kind game. Just turn on Aura integration in the settings menu and dive in.

Articles: Gaming
Article Tags: Community
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