Believe it or not, it’s been eight whole years since Mirror’s Edge was first released. Never heard of this dystopian parkour classic? Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one.

EA’s unique take on the platforming genre pretty much embodies the phrase ‘cult status’. So not all that many people bought it, but the people who did really loved the experience of bounding across the rooftops of an eerily pristine cityscape. Time for a reboot then? Well, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is just that. This game reimagines the world, mechanics and characters of its predecessor and improves on most of them in a brilliantly thrilling manner.

If you’ve been pining for a new Mirror’s Edge for the best part of a decade, then Catalyst is well worth the wait. Even if it’s not perfect.

This is a story all about how Faith’s life got flip-turned upside down

Once again, you slip into the red trainers of Faith - a freerunner/freedom fighter from the totalitarian city of Glass. Her iconic black bob remains very much unchanged - just more respendent thanks to the PS4’s added graphical prowess. This time around, EA has made a greater effort to flesh out the motivations of what is still one of gaming’s few female protagonists. Think of this as something approching Uncharted 4-style character development, as opposed to the ‘have legs, will travel’ approach of the 2008 Mirror’s Edge.

There’s still only an 8 to 9 hours main storyline for Catalyst to cram spades of emotional upheaval into, but at least Faith is a more tangible character than ever before. Especially when the speech in her cutscenes isn’t (occassionally) lagging behind some stunning character animation. For the most part, there’s less of a disconnect when you transition from arsing around across a cityscape as her and then enter a seriously frowny interlude that’s full of existential torpor.


You see, the city of Glass might be run by totalitarian devils whose politics leave a lot to be desired but when it comes to architecture, they have taste. In the original Mirror’s Edge the world was stunning but stark, filled with white cube buildings and occasional slashes of bright colour. In Catalyst, the city still has that clean, white sterility but there’s more variety to it.

We imagine North Korea or Donald Trump’s America might share this same a sense of controlled bustle instead of the sterile lifelessness you got from Mirror’s Edge. Each of the Glass’ five districts, from the spectacular, cobalt Anchor to the subtle, golden shades of Downtown, has its own distinct easthetic that you’ll want to charge right into and explore.


Combat in Catalyst also plays to Faith’s strengths: her speed, agility, and the fact that she’s not armoured up to her eyeballs. Compared to Mirror’s Edge, Faith feels like more of a force to be reckoned. This means insanely cool traversal attacks, where you combine heavy and light hits with parkour moves to deal extra damage and attacks that enemies can’t counter. These are especially great for taking down an unavoidable enemy before you zip around the others and escape. Slaying the malevolent forces of Kruger Security feels like a natural extension of your movement, instead of something akin to running into a brick wall.

Despite this, there are moments in the main story where you’ll be locked into a combat situation with no way out and this doesn't quite work. In one particular mission, you find yourself trapped on a rooftop facing waves of enemies. It’s like a coliseum and the restricted amount of open space to hand forces you to keep jumping off from the same places to take down your K-Sec foes. Make no mistake, Mirror’s Edge is still about speed and momentum - so that’s why these no-escape sections are all the more frustrating.


If you want to test your competive edge, then this is better done in Catalyst’s multiplayer. Instead featuring a live mode, the game hands you a Social Play system with two elements that can impact on other players’ game worlds: Beat L.E and Time Trials.

Beat L.E allows players to mark locations in the city for other players to reach, a great way to highlight interesting sights or secret locations you might not have found alone. Time Trials, like the name suggests, lets players create timed runs almost anywhere in the game and then push them to their friends and strangers with the challenge of beating their time. Each course has its own leaderboard bringing a competitive playground-like revelry to the game world and, more importantly, some new, creative ways to explore your environment.



So while Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a faithful reboot, it improves on its original formula with several welcome tweaks. From Faith’s slicker combat style to her more nuanced personality, there’s much more to admire about this game than its wonderous design.

Crucially, Catalyst’s freerunning is just as compelling as ever. The move to a relatively open world hasn’t harmed this series’ joyous ebb and flow, even though you’ll have to traverse the same paths a fair few times. This may not amount to the breakout hit EA was aiming for, but hardcore fans can rest easy. Faith’s status as a cult hero remains intact.

Stuff says... 

Mirror's Edge Catalyst review

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is an improved reflection of the original game.
Good Stuff 
Stunning visuals and sound immerse you in the game world
Combat and free running are smoother and make Faith feel more powerful
Social Play adds an interesting element to gameplay
Bad Stuff 
Occasional lag in cut scenes
'No escape' scenarios can be annoying
The story doesn’t offer much to sink your teeth into