Not counting the indie game scene, the industry seems to have a never-ending stream of games that shoot first and ask questions later. In that sea of near-clones, Mirror’s Edge running along walls instead of running and gunning is a refreshing change of pace.
In this dystopian society where non-conformers are imprisoned and taken out of the picture you play Faith, one in an organization that helps said marginalized people in delivering messages and goods behind the back of the government. Faith gets a call from her sister to find that she’s being framed for murder and sets out on a mission to clear her name, although doing so attracts the attention of people who would rather she didn’t interfere.
One of the first things I noticed about the game was the unique art style used in the cut scenes. The world depicted in them was beautiful, with a nice blend of detail and simplicity. The lack of lines gave more oomph to whatever was in motion and gave a hint of edginess to the whole thing. It provided a good bit of contrast with the world as it’s depicted during gameplay, which is complex and has far more color. It’s not an animation style I see often, but I wish I did because the effect is very nice.
Right off the bat, once that opening cut scene ends, you’re thrown into a tutorial. While these can easily be skipped in most AAA games, since the formulas are nearly the same, this one was well worth playing. The techniques took a little bit of getting used to, and taking the time to get them down right away ended up saving a lot of headache in the long-run.
Parkour, otherwise known as the urban ninja, is all about using the environment to your advantage to get from point A to point B. Jumping from perilous heights, shimmying up poles, running along walls, every surface is a pathway. And that is what this game was all about mechanically.
For the most part it was a linear experience. Some points held in them some variety in how they could be approached, but since the objects you can climb and jump off of were largely pre-determined it felt inconsequential. The only choice you really get through the game is whether or not you fight the enemies in your path or slip past them. Fighting was generally discouraged, but at times it was necessary.
Necessary, but nearly impossible. As Faith I had access to only my fists and my feet, as a game with such a focus on parkour should be, but going up against multiple people with guns in that state could be incredibly difficult. Faith couldn’t take many hits, and one mistake could easily mean death. The few times when I did manage to pick them off one by one and survive felt good. And with the assailants knocked out I could take their guns. It is possible to slow time down for short periods of time to help, and it was extremely helpful, but the most satisfying way to play was still to avoid the combat when possible.
That felt almost wrong, though. The guns flipped things to be incredibly easy, although each gun was only good for however many bullets were in the magazine. Once that ran out it was back to fists. The only way to traverse the fights that consistently was entertaining was to avoid combat all together, instead finding a way to duck and dodge around them and escaping to a nearby building.
The controls, however, made slipping past them (and many more things) far more difficult than it should have been. The majority of actions are all activated with the spacebar, meaning that whether or not the thing you want to happen depends entirely on whether or not you approach the situation from the right angle. For example, if you need to run along a wall but approach it just barely to flush with the wall nothing will happen, while if you go at it facing the wall just a smidge too much you’ll attempt to climb the sheer surface instead of running along it.
This made for far too many deaths and at times it did get frustrating. This could have easily been solved by adding one or two more buttons to activate things: one for jumping related things, one for climbing things, and one for combat probably would have sufficed. But it very much-needed to differentiate between the actions and how to use them.
The music lent itself well to the game, in part because it was used far more sparingly than other productions. In the parts that are focused on simply getting from one place to another, parts without conflict, there was no music. Instead there were the sounds of trains going by, machinery, and other city type sounds. Once there were enemies around, though, the music that bubbled up gave just the right amount of urgency. The combination of near-nothing and high-octane music ended up working very well together.
I was disappointed that the game wasn’t longer; despite my gripes with the combat and the controls I enjoyed the game and found myself getting immersed in Faith’s world. Some people would say that the final section of the game was lacking, as there’s no boss fight in the classic sense, but there was a final confrontation and it was done in a way that flowed with the rest of the game, so I didn’t mind it.
Finally, the thing I feel the need to mention, is the animations in the game were so well done. Faith’s hands, in particular, look and feel like some of the best animated hands I’ve seen in a video game. And in a game that was so focused on climbing things, that extra effort put into those hand animations made all the difference.
All in all it was a fun game despite its flaws and I’d recommend it to pretty well anyone, especially those who want a break from the shooters that tend to over saturate the AAA market.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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