A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Mirror's Edge Catalyst is a first-person free-running action game set in a futuristic dystopia with relatively little violence. The game's heroine, a strong, smart, non-sexualized woman, fights when she must, but she uses only her fists and feet rather than weapons and refrains from lethal force. She even speaks out against violence when talking to more radicalized elements of the rebellion. The narrative contains strong anti-corporate, anti-establishment themes, with its heroes struggling to bring down the all-powerful conglomerate that runs their city and help citizens think for themselves. Players can also expect to run across occasional bits of language but nothing stronger than "goddamn" or "bitch."
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What's it about?
MIRROR'S EDGE CATALYST is a reboot of a beloved free-running action game released nearly a decade ago. It stars Faith, a young woman who functions as a "runner" -- a parkour expert who jogs along the roofs of skyscrapers delivering messages -- in a futuristic dystopian city ruled by a corporate conglomerate that aims to control every aspect of people's lives, all the way down to their emotions. Working with a group of dissidents attempting to subvert the corporation's authority, Faith goes on missions intended to interrupt the city's infrastructure. She also helps her friends when they're in trouble. She's a parkour expert who leaps, slides, tumbles, and grapples her way around obstacles. This running and jumping action composes the vast bulk of the experience. She's also a skilled hand-to-hand fighter who can subdue her enemies with a mix of punches, kicks, and a disruption ability that momentarily confuses opponents by jamming their sensors (though much of the time it's more efficient for her to simply avoid combat using her free-running skills). When not carrying out quests for the rebellion, players can roam the city and complete side tasks, compete in time trials with other players, and search for collectibles scattered around the metropolis.
Is it any good?
There's much to approve of in this vast open-world title. It boldly stands in the face of many of the stereotypes and criticisms normally leveled at action games. Its non-sexualized heroine is a breath of fresh air in a medium known for female characters better defined by their breast sizes than their personalities. The focus on skillful environment traversal as opposed to bloody combat is also a rarity in action games geared for older players. And its story, filled with emotional twists and thoughtful allegories about the companies that rule our lives, and its setting in a gorgeous and distinctive city are a big step up over the bare-bones characters and narratives players were given in the original Mirror's Edge released in 2008.
But it's not perfect. The first-person perspective through which players experience Faith's parkour movement is exhilarating but at times also frustrating because it makes it difficult to properly judge the timing of jumps. It can also be tricky to find your way around the city's rooftop labyrinth. A feature called "Runner's Vision" provides a suggested path, but it's unreliable and sometimes doesn't even work properly. And while combat feels fresh to start, it never really evolves beyond a simple dodge-and-strike formula that lacks much in the way of strategy or satisfaction. Mirror's Edge Catalyst is still well worth playing if only as confirmation that an action game with a strong female lead and only a minor focus on combat can work, but you'll likely finish it thinking about how only a few small design changes might have improved the experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. In games, violence usually equals killing, but this game keeps combat to a minimum. Have you played any other action games that treat violence in a similar way?
Families can also talk about the depiction of female characters in games. Faith is a rare action heroine defined neither by her sexuality nor any romantic relationships, but can you think of other female protagonists who fit this description?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release date: June 7, 2016
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Great Girl Role Models
- ESRB rating: T for Mild Language, Violence
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.