Warning: This preview contains moderate mechanical spoilers but no narrative spoilers.
Purge is Mirror’s Edge. No, it’s not like Mirror’s Edge, Purge IS Mirror’s Edge. A less polished version mixed with Borderlands-esque aesthetics and questionable stealth elements, but still Mirror’s Edge. Even at this early stage, it’s evident that there are very similar overtones of oppression, desperation, and parkour as a way of life rather than merely as a mode of transportation.
Unfortunately, what’s currently available seems much closer to a proof of concept than a formal demo as much of its content is still very rough around the edges. The most obvious issues involve the controls and player character animations. While commendable for the progress made already, they’re still stiff, clunky, and only viable for novice-level platforming tricks. Other issues include a malfunctioning pause feature, a dearth of audio enhancements, some cringeworthy writing, and one of the most earsplitting sirens I’ve ever heard in a video game, but those are all things that can be fixed in due time.
What worries me most is the idolization of Mirror’s Edge, warts and all. I’d love to see a game come along and use Edge as a jumping off point while ironing out its problems in order to create the excellent and novel experience that we’ve been hoping for, but this demo leaves me doubtful of the Purge team’s ability to deliver. They’ve endeavored to replicate a game with fatal flaws without doing much to alleviate those flaws. Runner vision (a system of color-coded environmental clues) returns to aid navigation, but it’s still difficult to determine one’s destination when that falters since the only other assistance you have is a very vague hint pointing at a distant object. Escape sequences return to infuse action into the game, but they’re still annoying because they turn interesting opportunities for exploration and thoughtful planning into clumsy progression through unfamiliar and multi-tiered environments. The jury is still out on how Purge will deal with guns (or whether they’ll be included at all) since they’re not implemented in this demo, so one can only hope that they’ll at least avoid including that flaw from Edge.
Some months from now, I’d be happy to say that I was wrong and that the further-developed Purge provides an experience superior to Mirror’s Edge, but there’s nothing in the demo that convinces me that Purge won’t fall short in the same ways. I’d say keep an eye out, but don’t hold your breath.