This is part of my Steam Challenge Series (the full list is here).
Mirror’s Edge was a bit of a rollercoaster for me. I have had this game for years, and kept eyeing it longingly every time I saw it mentioned somewhere. Eventually I got to the stage where I was actually a little nervous about playing it because it’d been hyped up in my mind for so long. So, I went into it with both very high expectations, and also expecting to be disappointed.
The tutorial was very good, easily the most useful and engaging one I have played through in years. It did, however, bear out my concerns that the game might be too finicky and unforgiving. I went through the tutorial obstacle course a couple of times and was still not entirely confident in my abilities when I started the first chapter.
There I was, with a sinking feeling that I was playing another overhyped dud…for about the first half of the chapter. Then it clicked. I suspect it was just my own playstyle inhibitions holding me back, but once I relaxed and fell into the flow, it really worked. It was magical. The immersion was almost total. And it was a joy.
I don’t often get this feeling with a game, but Mirror’s Edge left me exhilarated. There were two levels to this. The first is in those areas where you are simply navigating the world, and it is just pure joy to move around, solve the puzzle of how do I get up there?, and just experiment with your moves and capabilities. The real exhilaration, though, where you are left feeling pumped, is when you are being chased by security forces and you have very little time to look around and think.
I am not sure why, but of all the parkour moves and tricks that you pull off during the game, nothing is as satisfying and as successful in bringing home the urgency of your situation than busting through closed doors at full speed. I loved it.
I have to say that the combat was a near miss. It is technically optional, but at the time it doesn’t exactly feel optional. I loved the disarm mechanic, although it was really unreliable to execute, and I liked how choosing to keep and use firearms slowed you down and prevented most of your climbing moves. I think it could have been better, and as it is it might have been wiser to leave it out entirely. Perhaps just leave in the disarms? I don’t know. Sliding in and kicking some cops in the balls was immensely enjoyable though, I will say that.
The story was quite predictable, but serviceable. I don’t think it’s as bad as many people seem to think. The voice acting is nice, and the writing is not at all cringeworthy, which is better than a lot of games out there.
The only other game I’ve played with parkour-like movement was the Prince of Persia trilogy – well, the first two, anyway, I haven’t played the Two Thrones yet. That had some wall running and a bit of gymnastics, but Mirror’s Edge just feels so much better. I guess that’s what happens when you make the movement system the main mechanic of the game rather than a side feature. It feels like I’ve discovered a whole new genre. And I love it.
Mirror’s Edge is awesome.