Busterman is a an open-world game concept that revolves around a character of the same name. The game's basic design follows that of third-person superpowered character games like inFamous and Prototype, but varies substancially by offering elements players may have expected from those titles but didn't find. The game does also share a few similarities with Parasite Eve.
Busterman is designed to be a third-person sandbox game that combines action, platforming and RPG elements. The player begins the game as a character known as Vincent Schaeffer whom they get to design. The opening sequence of the game as Blake returning home to his apartment, at which point details within can shape Vince's personality as well as starting abilities and attire. The apartment begins in a first person view where you enter the apartment and then proceed to the bathroom, where the medicine cabinet is open. Upon closing it the appearance creation screen opens where the character is customized as desired. The phone then rings and a friend asks how things went at work. It is here that the player picks a voice and an occupation for Blake. The player then gets to see Blake in 3rd person, dressed in the clothes required for work, and picks some dialog to determine his personality. After the call the player can roam the apartment, making decisions such as Blake's favorite food and a sport/physical activity he takes part in, both of which have an impact on gameplay. Finally Balke sits down to watch television, the show he picks also having an impact.
The player later begins to roam the city, using the chosen activity as Blake's initial fighting style. Soon afterwards however Blake blacks out after being hit by a car and after waking up the player unlocks the main feature: Blake's energy manipulation abilities. The HUD (Heads-Up Display) appears, showing Blake's Injury Meter and Energy Meter. The player soon after encounters the real enemies of the game: the mutants, later known as the Pinnacles and the Zeniths. Rats, birds, dogs, cats, and even insects have all become larger and had their appearance radically altered, rats for example having much larger mouths and claws. Blake's abilities include melee combos, which are affected by Blake's chosen fighting style, and a series of ranged attacks. Soon the player learns other abilities, including more combos and ranged attacks as well as wide-area strikes and even flight. As the gameplay city, known as Zenith City, is a floating one in the sky, flight allows the player to go underneath the city to access certain areas as well as reach rooftops. Blake is able to scale buildings via climbing, but he is not overly skilled at parkour unless chosen to be, but this can change.
Later on the game a Viral Meter is introduced which has an unusual effect on gameplay. The viral meter's main function is to deter players from using non-energy meter consuming attacks for too long in swarms of Zeniths, as their presense will cause Blake's own abilities to react violently. While at lower levels the meter does nothing and at higher levels the energy meter even starts refilling faster, at its maximum level it causes Blake to generate a large explosion which, while hitting several nearby enemies, will be unlikely to kill any and result in his energy meter being both depleted and unable to refill for a few seconds. The Viral Meter, in addition to having the effect listed, also acts a sort of monster detector when none can be sighted. Some parts of the game will have viral hotspots as well where the meter will go up and there are no enemies around.
While the game world is a sandbox, it also involves a series of missions that tell a story. In addition to the main storyline a series of side-missions are available which, upon their completion, offer special rewards. Side-missions have no real form, though they are typically offered by people within the city who are either immune to the virus or, later on, who've been vaccinated.
Blake's abilities grow during gameplay, some requiring certain story points to occur while others require experience points to be paid, which are earned by completing missions and fighting enemies. Completing side-missions can also unlock skill trainers who, in exchange for money (which is also earned via missions, exploration and fighting enemies), can grant Blake new abilities. Other side-missions can unlock shops where Blake can buy equipment and clothing, the former to gain bonuses and the latter to change the player's look.
Zenith city acts as the game's sandbox, a futuristic thirty-square-mile city that floats in the sky above the Pacific Ocean in international waters.
Busterman takes place in the late-21st century on the futuristic Zenith City, a joint project between Eastern Asia, Australia and North America to create a flying city over the Pacific Ocean, whose initial purpose was a mid-air fueling station. Zenith City is solar-powered and possesses elevated towers that constantly absorb sunlight even during heavy cloud periods. The main character is Vincent Bishop, a man the player can design. He falls alseep in his apartment one night while watching television and when he wakes up the city is in a giant panic. People all over are freezing in place, water is evaporating and the entire city in general is descending into chaos. Blake leaves his apartment only to get hit by a car and black out. During this time insects and animals aboard the city begin to mutate and rapidly reproduce asexually, and soon those humans that aren't motionless have evacuated to appearently safe areas.
Blake awakes, discovering the mutated creatures that he simply dubs mutants are ignoring him. Blake then proceeds to suddenly explode, alerting nearby creatures and incinerating most of his clothing, then promptly discovering his ability to produce bolts of kinetic energy. Retreating into a nearby mall, Blake clothes himself and proceeds to rescue a news team led by reporter Saeko Fuma and a few other civilians from mutants, only to be shunned and called a 'Pinnacle.' Confused, Blake exits the mall and heads uptown, along the way seeing a broadcast explaining the horrible truth: a new virus, called the Buster Virus, apparently fell to the Earth when Cruithnea was knocked out of orbit by a malfunctioning satelite and hit the Pacific. The report also labels Blake as patient zero, calling him 'Busterman.' Military aircraft are now roaming the city, as are convoys, and Blake soon encounters one, learning how to stun humans before fleeing.
Blake soon encounters a woman in a viral hotspot who's unaffected, introducing herself as Cecilia Caine, a solar engineer. The pair encounter a highly infected bear from the zoo who is now twice its natural size and it chases them into the city's underground network, but eventually Blake manages to use a beam attack to kill it. The pair are then surrounded by soldiers and this time Blake surrenders, not wanting to risk Cecilia's life. The two are taken to a decontamination room where General Garret Bishop confirms both of them are infected, Blake's own abilities due to his body's energy output increasing dramatically with very little required intake. Scientists take blood samples from both people and Cecilia is taken elsewhere while Blake's levels begin to build thanks to previous specimens that were in the room. His power level peaking, Blake explodes again and promptly learns to fly, escaping the chamber through a hole he'd created. After taking down a military airship and saving the pilot Blake encounters a large stealth ship and is presued by unknown men with flight packs.