“Mirror’s Edge Catalyst” is, at times, a wonderful experience, but several key choices by its creators bog down this unique first-person platformer.
“Catalyst” is a sort of prequel/reboot hybrid of the original “Mirror’s Edge,” a 2008 release that found a cult following with its brand of race-against-the-clock parkour gameplay. While the original was a linear experience, “Catalyst” takes the sandbox approach.
Faith Connors remains the protagonist here. She’s a Runner, a sort of mercenary for delivery jobs in the dystopian city of Glass that is aesthetically pretty but barren of personality. She quickly hooks up with a resistance movement looking to take down the oppressive Conglomerate. Unfortunately, it’s hard to care much about their plight because nearly every character is either bland or obnoxious.
The move to open-world gameplay works well in “Catalyst.” Despite the fact that the world doesn’t feel lived-in, various time trials and platforming challenges allow for a welcome break in the main missions. These side quests are fast and fun, and the only frustration comes from knowing there’s a better way to execute next time. Once the controls are mastered, running across rooftops and over obstacles is a rare treat in first-person games.
If only the primary campaign’s missions were so enjoyable. These often place Faith in situations where fluid parkour isn’t the solution, eschewing “Catalyst’s” strength. The platforming puzzles in such missions merely are OK, but they’re not challenging to solve.
By far, “Mirror’s Edge Catalyst” suffers most when it forces players into arena-esque combat situations. hand-to-hand fighting is alternately easy to exploit and maddening thanks to clunky controls and poor AI. If the franchise one day releases a third installment, combat should be removed altogether in favor of the more speed-centric objectives that stand out in thie franchise.
As the story plods along past its easy to spot plot twist, combat situations become more prevalent. The result is a slog to the finish that leaves a bad taste thanks to and underwhelming conclusion to the tale.
“Catalyst” includes asynchronous multiplayer that allows friends to race ghosts of their one another’s time trials, but it misses the point by removing the social aspect of online games. Not helping matters is how pointless it is to run many of the time-based missions until the progression tree is filled. There’s no need for essential abilities to be completely unavailable for a good chunk of the game.