It’s been nearly seven years since we last ventured into the world of Mirror’s Edge. You’d think that over this time, perhaps, we’d lose a taste for climbing white walls, sliding under red pipes, and flying off of buildings in mis-aimed jump attempts.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a rousing return to the series. The title pits Faith against the strict city of Glass, home to crippling totalitarianism and aggressive enforcement. Kind of like really violent white bread.
The player begins with a young Faith, a “reformed” citizen returned to the streets. It’s hardly 10 steps out of the reformation center when Faith meets a hooded figure, rips off her tracking band, and returns to her passionate search for inconspicuously red building features.
The demo opens with a mini cutscene-laden tutorial. This segment introduces basic controls and Faith’s hooded companion/enemy/we’re not really sure, we’re really only going off the hood at this point.
Stage 2 offers three missions: a timed trial through your friend’s favorite route, a climbing challenge to reach and commandeer a billboard, and a combat test against some now skull-challenged NPCs. Each path shines a light on the game’s flowing parkour, as focal points flash red and yellow “runner vision” points trail towards marked map objectives. While the content of these missionettes were minimal, they allowed for a brief and satisfying taste of the staple pillars of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst: speed, accuracy, and vandalism.
The controls remain simple, with the left trigger and bumper controlling all vertical movement. Movement relies heavily on timing, requiring careful movement in order to build and maintain momentum.
The story follows Faith’s evolution from juvenile rebel to the city’s catalyst of freedom and hope. The pursuit of freedom is accompanied by a beautiful open world. No levels. No loading screens.
The player chooses where to roam and what to do. Hopefully one of those choices involves combat, because Catalyst‘s fighting is as visceral as any gun fight. The impact of each kick and strike hits with a precision and force that makes combat more desirable an option than ever before.
A variety of enemies, each requiring a unique tactic to defeat, roam the world between the highest rooftops and the deepest tunnels. First person the player takes on Faith’s form and fluidity, pushing her limits and constantly finding herself amidst the limitless.
There’s certainly no fault in the title’s visuals, meaning they are damn fantastic. The world has changed a lot in seven years. Points of interest shine bright hues, using color to guide the character through the world with indicators built into the environment itself. Though the clean, communicative style of the original title has persisted, the level of detail has palpably amplified.
In but the few cutscenes available, Faith’s sharp persona translated persistently. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst lays bare the persona of every character and scene. Each aesthetic cue hits its mark, breathing life into an instantly tense yet freeing experience.
The end of the demo was followed by the regretful drop of controllers, and the hope thatMirror’s Edge Catalyst will be the same tight and satisfying experience.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst will be available February 23, 2016 on Origen for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.