On the occasion of the release of this highly anticipated extension, we were able to meet Jan Gąsior, Writer/Narrative Designer at One More Level, to ask him some nice questions.
1Page 1: Interview Jan Gąsior
2Page 2: Interview Jan Gąsior
In Project_Hel, Ghostrunner players will be able to control Hel and will have to descend the Dharma Tower, the reverse of what is done in the base game. This expansion will be more combat-focused, with Hel being tougher than the Ghostrunner. Six levels will be offered, with new enemies and bosses, not to mention new music by Daniel Deluxe. Originally planned for the end of last year, Project_Hel had been postponed and is released today.
On the occasion of its release, we met Jan Gąsior who is Writer/Narrative Designer at One More Level. He joined the studio in 2019 to help with the overall design and story of Ghostrunner. Before that, he worked on designing, writing and organizing fun events for tourists visiting Krakow. He occupies his free time by playing in particular role-playing games or by doing role-playing.
This DLC will undoubtedly bring a new gaming experience. While there will be an obvious emphasis on combat, players are understandably wondering about the difficulty. With new enemies and new bosses, this extension is however described as accessible to novices. How does this work ? The difficulty is reduced? New accessibility options will be offered?
Project_Hel is about, well, Hel – one of the bosses from the original game. This shift in perspective influenced the entire design of the expansion. Passing on this feeling of power was an essential element for us. The original ghostrunner was an underdog, the whole world wanted him. Hel, is enraged, and it's the whole world she wants. Compared to Jack, she is stronger, faster, and has a special arsenal. That doesn't mean the game is easy though – the idea behind this expansion is more to explore different skills and challenges.
As for new players, Hel's handling is really forgiving – her abilities make her less touchy, and small mistakes can have lesser consequences. We hope this will allow new players not to get discouraged too quickly, but rather stick around until they reach levels that test their skill.
Long story short, compared to the base game, Project_Hel offers a smoother progression curve. New tools will allow players to take on the game, but the original Ghostrunner formula is still here.
For the Switch version, concessions had to be made (but still, it's nice to have Ghostrunner in your pocket). Isn't it too difficult to develop for this platform?
To be completely precise, One More Level only focused on the PC version of Ghostrunner – the Switch version, as well as the console ports, were made by Slipgate Ironworks.
That said, we are still aware of the challenges that this represents. Running a recent game on a machine that fits in your hand is no small feat. For this, everything had to be thought out. Mistakes were made, then corrected, and a bundle of gray matter was called upon. We have complete confidence in our colleagues at Slipgate Ironworks, and we're here to help them achieve their goal because it's really nice to have Ghostrunner in your pocket.
Ghostrunner runs on Unreal Engine 4, and the graphics are really nice. Have you had the opportunity to get your hands on Unreal Engine 5 and test new things?
Part of the technical team had the opportunity to touch UE5 and the least we can say is that it's promising. There are drastic changes to the way the engine works, and this will impact the overall build of games. Lighting, for example, is crucial in their construction. This part is very time-consuming and requires a lot of computing power to work properly. Lumen promises a lot of changes here, and developers should be able to save time.
Of course, it is important to remember that everything will not work perfectly in a snap. Finding out how new features work, making the best use of them, making them work with each other (and with old ones), all of this takes time.
For me, one of the most exciting new features, and certainly one of the most annoying – is One File Per Actor. A system that allows an entire team to work together without having to worry about sabotaging each other's work, overlapping, or having to wait for one to finish to continue.
Ghostrunner is a unique game, how did you come up with the idea?
We could almost say it's a natural evolution when looking at the studio's identity and affections. God's Trigger, the previous One More Level game, was a one hit kill top-down shooter. It was nervous, lively… and difficult! Ghostrunner builds on these foundations, while adding a third dimension that brings depth to the whole thing.
We have also been influenced by FPPs that we personally like: Titanfall or DOOM for example.
As for the cyberpunk aesthetic, it happens that the majority of the team loves that spirit, so it came naturally to us, and then it worked well with the mechanics we wanted to implement. The only other setting where a super nimble guy who can run up walls and single-slash enemies that shoot at him is probably Star Wars… well, let's just say that's not tweaked. available to all.
And then let's not forget that when Ghostrunner was starting to come to life, the hype around Cyberpunk 2077 was seriously heating up. Like everyone else, we were super excited about this game, and as our game director Radek once said, “We wanted our piece of the Cyberpunk pie”
Do you think about the future? A new game or a sequel perhaps? What would you like to do after Ghostrunner?
We constantly think about it. Ghostrunner has been a real success for us, and we are growing every day by growing the team and improving our skills. What we've learned with Ghostrunner and Project_Hel is priceless, and we feel like we've grown over that time. Ghostrunner 2 was announced a few months ago, and it's no secret that we've been working on a project for some time now. After that, who knows? No matter the setting or subgenre, I think we'll stick to what we do best: action games that challenge players.
A more personal question: developers are also gamers, what games are they expecting this year?
Personally, I would say: Baldur's Gate 3 (as a narrative designer, I'm into RPGs), Total War: Warhammer 3 (I'm not hiding, I'm a big Warhammer fan, and then it seems like it's is in fashion now, thank you Henry Cavill), God of War Ragnarok (an obvious choice, but I loved the previous one. And in the same vein I'm also waiting for Horizon Forbidden West) and Warhammer 40,000: Darktide (thanks again Henry!)
But of course I think I have to talk about Elden Ring. Even if it's not necessarily my cup of tea, it's a must-have game for our design team. These guys love Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro – and that's hardly a surprise when you look a bit at Ghostrunner's mechanics!
To players who haven't gotten their hands on Ghostrunner yet, what message would you like to pass on?
I would simply like to tell them: “You are missing something! ". More seriously, I would like to recommend the game even to those who do not consider themselves "hardcore gamers". So of course, it requires practice, mastery, but once the basics are acquired, the experience is extremely satisfying – and it's not for nothing that our player-base is still there and achieving feats that we thought were unimaginable.
Since the game's release, we've implemented Assist Mode – an option that intelligently changes a few game settings to provide a smoother progression experience. But actually, getting started with Project_Hel can also be a good idea as I mentioned earlier!
In short, all that to say, you are missing out on something by not giving Ghostrunner a chance!
Ghostrunner and its Project_Hel expansion are available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Luna, and PC via Steam, Epic Games Store, and GOG.