Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a first person free-running game developed by DICE and published by EA. It is a hard reboot to 2008’s Mirror’s Edge, meaning fans had to wait 8 years for this game to come. You once again play as Faith Connors, a runner in a post-dystopian future, where a few run-of-the-mill courier jobs wind you up into a high-level conspiracy. New moves, an open world design, and more plot accompanied this remix. Changes to the melee combat for fighting enemies was also given an overhaul. But can it hold up to eight years of anticipation?
If you have a good TV and have never seen BLINDING WHITE LIGHT on your screen before, you’re welcome. Joking aside, the graphics are actually pretty damn good looking, complete with a 60P frame rate on all platforms. The designers were very committed to the aesthetics of this game’s “white & primaries” color tones littered with random invasive geometry. It makes the rooftops of futuristic Cascadia look like they could actually be real rooftops, despite being blatantly designed for the sake of free-running. The flowing water really adds to the zen effect of the architecture as well.
This is going to be a controversial opinion but Mirror’s Edge Catalyst had a great plot and a great ending. The plot is very minimalistic as characters are allowed to just “be people” in this universe rather than all have some great purpose. There’s tons of lore to peer into via dialogue and an online glossary. Both really paint the world into a captivating place. It also takes guts to make a game have great moments of plot only for the very end of the came tell you “but then nobody cared, the end.” This is also the same world where the police say, “Freeze, you are in breach of policy!” which gives me pause for thought every time I hear it.
Electronic musician Solar Fields made a great 9 tracks for the original game. The uniquely masterful synth pads, floating chords, and digital beats were a staple that made it great. The artist was up to the challenge for a follow up, and sitting at 5 HOURS and 12 MINUTES on Spotify, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’s OST is as full as a soundtrack can get. Entering new districts changes up the music to reflect the location and really expands what kind of emotion and sound can come from this one musical style. The sounds of protagonist Faith breathing as you run with the music warping every time you leap really intensified the experience, no doubt.
The biggest problem with Mirror’s Edge is that the control style of this game is very different than other more conventional games. ONLY in this game does hitting ‘right-bumper’ make sense as a ‘jump’ function. The gameplay is rewarding once you do finally pickup how to play. But even after that, the game throws an additional curve your way by making the side quests very, VERY challenging. It is still worth learning how to play, just to check out one of the coolest first-person melee combat systems since Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, and that is saying a lot. But once you’re skilled, the additionally ramped up difficulty of the optional challenges may make you decide not to bother with them.
I sold the physical copy when there was a digital copy on sale because I want to play this game on-demand. Then, I bought a second copy on PC for the same reason. Running around in this game’s many open locations are a great way to empty one’s mind from anything, and the engrossing soundtrack makes it even better. There’s some optional collect-athon elements that will keep you busy for a while after the story, especially if you are a 100% completionist. Once again, the only real problem is that after all this, those side missions are really hard and the “guide” you get isn’t interested in showing you the best route. That’s tough because the sheer frustrating difficulty of these missions can really ruin the mood.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was not the quite fully realized as it could have been after waiting for so long, but once playing through, it’s value became more and more apparent. I greatly appreciate that EA probably went out of their way to make a game sequel that they didn’t have to make.