The Golden Age of parkour games is right in front of us

While parkour has been featured in gaming for well over a decade, the French art of freerunning has long been relegated to a more supplementary role in franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Dying Light.

And while the freerunning controls and gameplay in those franchises are good—and even great, in some instances—there’s been a lack of games where parkour rightfully gets to be the primary focus. And to add insult to the injury, the multiplayer servers for one of the best examples were shut down less than a year ago.

Mirror's Edge protagonist Faith fighting enemies.
We miss you, Faith. Image via Electronic Arts.

Both thematically and gameplay-wise, Mirror’s Edge and its sequel/reboot Mirror’s Edge Catalyst were the perfect parkour games. Both games captured the momentum and ingenuity of parkour flawlessly, and Catalyst answered the restricted level criticisms toward the first game with a perfectly crafted open world that encouraged and rewarded players for exploring new paths. And the movement style that represents freedom and expression was a perfect foil to a city ruled by oppression.

The only feature that drew consistent criticism across both games was its combat, which in a way explains why some of the most successful games that utilize parkour feature it next to a different primary element, like Assassin’s Creed‘s iconic stealth gameplay. But there’s a reason both Assassin’s Creed and Dying Light have kept parkour and freerunning as a main feature: people like it.

basim sliding down a roof in assassin's creed mirage
Assassin’s Creed is without question the most popular game series featuring parkour. Screenshot by Dot Esports.

That’s why there needs to be more games where parkour is the primary focus, but we’re probably not going to get another Mirror’s Edge game from DICE until the Battlefield franchise is back in good standing. Maybe that means we’ll never getting the perfect parkour game again, but we’re being treated to a number of different parkour games with their own unique style, all set to come out relatively soon. This potential golden age starts with the most pure parkour game, one that embodies the art of freerunning more than any other upcoming game: Rooftops & Alleys.

On Steam, Rooftops & Alleys bills itself as the essential parkour game, one that “scratches that itch that other games just don’t.” Rooftops & Alleys nails all the necessary parkour movements to a T: rolls, vaults, wallrunning, gainers, and more. Each map contains several Tony Hawk-like challenges, either time-based or score-based, and (puts on a Geoff Keighley voice) it’s all made by just one single developer. Even actual pro parkour athletes are impressed.

The most complete parkour experience in a game so far. Image via MLMEDIA.

But while Rooftops & Alleys provides the most pure parkour experience in my opinion, there are other games coming soon that are worth your attention. Both Supermoves and DeathSprint 66 are two multiplayer-focused parkour games currently in development with more Jet Set Radio like movement but drastically different aesthetics. Supermoves is a more casual fun approach with custom map-maker tools and drop-in/drop-out lobbies featuring different modes, whereas DeathSprint 66 is billed as hardcore, bloody combat racing in a futuristic dystopian setting. Just look up Red Bull Crashed Ice and imagine a bloodier version set in Cyberpunk’s Night City: that’s DeathSprint 66.

DeathSprint 66 gameplay.
DeathSprint 66 looks gnarly. Image via Sumo Digital.

There’s by no means anything wrong with games that utilize parkour to enhance other parts of its gameplay, and there’s no shortage of great games that do so. Aside from the Assassin’s Creed and Dying Light franchises, there’s also Ghostrunner, Severed Steel, and VR fans can treat themselves to a very Mirror’s Edge-inspired title in STRIDE: Fates.

But if you just want to pick up a controller and run with no obstacles or boundaries to stop you, there’s no better time to take a leap of faith.

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