Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is a re-imagining of the 2008 game Mirror’s Edge. It takes place in a futuristic location known as the City of Glass. The dystopian city is ruled by a Conglomerate that has turned the citizens into mindless slaves pursuing status and wealth. Faith Connors, the same protagonist of the first game, is one of the people who lives off the Grid, the large networking system that connects (and spies on) everyone and everything. She works as a runner who roam the rooftops of the city as couriers as well as burglars. They have been tolerated by the Conglomerate and their K-Sec security forces for a few decades, but that soon changes early in the game. It starts at the moment Faith is released from prison and returns to her runner friends, but flashbacks also reveal her past, what happened to her family and how she became involved with different people. Why she was is prison is soon explained and she needs to repay a debt to the crime boss Dogen. During a K-Sec headquarters heist she ignores orders and steals a hard drive that overthrows the fragile equilibrium that was in place, and soon K-Sec cracks down hard on the runners, attempting to reclaim the hard drive. With the help of runners, the militant organization Black November and other characters, she soon learns of a sinister project called Reflection, which threatens to change Glass and its citizens entirely, unless Faith can stop it.
Just like the original it relies heavily on parkour movement to explore the city, escape, find entrances, and take out or disarm opponents. Moves such as jumping, sliding, climbing, balancing, wall running, swinging, rolling, diving through windows, using ziplines and a grappling hook-like MAG Rope, and kicking in doors can be strung together quickly. Certain parts can be revisited with upgrades, for instance with the MAG Rope, to reach locations that were previously inaccessible. As in the first title elements in the environment turn bright red to show they can be used when Runner’s Vision is activated, sending out a pulse. Optionally these markings can be made less prominent or even be removed altogether. Enemies can be targeted with melee attacks, always with the aim to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Punches and kicks have a different effect based on the movement speed and when running at top speed a type of shield is built up that makes Faith largely invulnerable as long as she keeps moving at that speed. Kicks and punches can be steered in a certain direction, for instance to knock down guards off buildings or against each other. Guns can no longer be used as they are tied to their owners using biometrics. Entirely new for this game is that the city has been turned into an open world that can be explored in any direction, instead of a series of a set of linear levels. While there is a main story path to follow, there are many side missions and jobs that can be freely pursued as well. There is also a large game map where waypoints can be set to move around quickly.
By completing missions Faith earns experience that is eventually turned into upgrade points. These can be spent on movement, combat and gear, upgrading her abilities through different skill trees for each category. New for this game is that not all moves are available right away and need to be unlocked gradually, such as the 180-degree turn, the double wall run or a quick sidestep. The game has time trial missions with leaderboards where the ghosts are shared with friends so they can attempt to beat your score, using the Social Play feature. It is also possible to design and share custom routes as challenges. Next to regular missions based on movement and incorporating combat, there are new types of tasks called grid node puzzles. They are slower than others, focusing on finding the correct route in a busy environment, but it also incorporates a laser security system where Faith’s moves can be used to get past the security lasers. Most of these are optional missions to unlock fast travel points. Other missions involve deliveries, distraction missions (keep the K-Sec busy), and Dash missions (race against the clock). There are also five types of collectibles: Documents, Electronic Parts, GridLeaks, Secret Bags and Surveillance Recordings. Certain billboards can be hacked to display a selection of logos.