Game news Why Mirror’s Edge is a cult game in EA’s catalog to never forget
Immaculate skyscrapers, red doors and inaccessible alleys… the environments of Mirror’s Edge are recognizable among a thousand. Scatter their shots among a few hundred other video game settings and you’ll still be able to make them out in the crowd. And then there is this unforgettable ease in moving around, this relentless flow in which the title sucks us in. Never has an experience marked me so much at this level.
A story of perspective
This article is an opinion piece, it is by nature subjective. The opinion of the author is personal and is not representative of that of the rest of JV’s editorial staff.
Mirror’s Edge, developed by DICE, was part with Dead Space of the new licenses overseen by the giant Electronic Arts with the aim of diversifying its game portfolio. “There was a pressure inside the studio to do something different… Back when we were still an independent company. We wanted to push for a new IP“, recalls Patrick Söderlund, formerly CEO of DICE (Polygon). The Swedish team takes the risk of daring, its formula is not yet popular. The dystopian game is part of a first-person current that relegates violence in the background. It brazenly deviates from the shackles already imposed by the triple A and shines in three aspects: eye-catching aesthetics, a highly charismatic heroine and fantastic gameplay. For these three features that have never lost their superb fourteen years after its release, Mirror’s Edge remains my favorite game.
An unforgettable universe
I conceive it, Mirror’s Edge has never shone by its scenario, but its universe is not less fantastic. The adventure begins in the shoes of a young heroine who outruns the police by clinging to the landing gear of a helicopter. Faith has an outrageous look and temperament. She embodies a messenger with a fiery temperament employed illegally in a city won over to securitarism. Its role is to transmit sensitive parcels by traversing the roofs of the city. The shallows are so impenetrable that they become mystical, reaching them is always synonymous with death. On the roofs, there is not a living soul, yet the immersion there is striking.
The game keeps us on its dizzying heights, plunged into an impeccable blue sky. The heroine’s breath sounds with each sprint. Faith moves with disconcerting ease. It offers us a feeling of freedom in which we almost forget ourselves; but his course must remain constant: the authorities are on his heels, eyeing the slightest fall. The fantastic music of Solar Fields punctuates the epic. And you may remember the main theme called Still Alive which ended our getaway in style.
The impeccable level design
I have never found such well-executed pathfinding and level design, which is based on effective minimalism. So of course, Mirror’s Edge has its share of imperfections: a narrative that never really takes hold and the ability to wield firearms as a last resort when they came to break the fluidity of parkour. The DICE game will still be a critical success if not commercial. Martin Frain, marketing director of DICE, estimated that his baby would sell at least 3 million copies, even thinking “that he had the potential to do even better than that“. But the hopes were in vain; some unofficial sources evoke sales of less than 150,000 copies worldwide in the first week of marketing. A year later, the title will painfully cross one million copies.
Yet Mirror’s Edge is an undeniably cult title. It was born at a time when the craze for parkour was reaching its peak, propelled by the flagship licenses that are Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed. Restarting the game for the writing of this post reminded me that her beauty had not aged a bit and that her aura remained as special as ever.. Lars Gustavsson, creative director of DICE says himself feeling the need to take the controller and play a little, just to come back to it. Catalyst, the sequel, would surely have done better to take up this simple formula of well-designed levels instead of serving us its free traversal which lacks soul. Mirror’s Edge doesn’t need an open world to give us a sense of freedom. We doubt to see a third installment land in the next few years, even if the license was thought of as a trilogy. But a return to basics would be (for me at least) a real blessing.
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