Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Mirror's Edge: An Abandoned Game Worth Rescuing

Like a lot of others I partook in the recent Humble Origin Bundle, a ramshackle of games bundled together by EA and their digital distributor Origin to us, the penniless gamers. As a healthy stock of games and a great way to help out charity, I was eager to fork over my hard-earned dosh to a fine cause. Stowed away amongst the eight games was a game that’s constantly discussed and showcased as the saving grace of the often mundane first-person shooter genre: Mirror’s Edge.

I’d heard about it of course, gamers had been ranting and raving over the game for years now, yet it had always been an “I’ll play it one day” game. Sadly, that was how a lot of the world viewed it: a game that was a renowned success, but never really hooked the audience it deserved. To me, it was a game that just did not stand out – the colours were simplistic, I thought it would lack any sort of character, and it looked like a rudimentary puzzle game with a slight twist.

Boy, was I wrong.

Never in my life have I had such a visceral reaction to a game. It may look like a lot of running, sliding and hopping, but the experience is so much more. Mirror’s Edge makes it apparent that you aren’t running an obstacle course - you’re running for your life. Within the first few hours of gameplay I had to stop, not because I wasn’t enjoying myself, but because I thought I was going to have a heart attack. My heart was pounding in my chest, my hands were clammy with sweat and I was leaning so far forward in my chair I could have whispered sweet nothings to my computer.

The level design may seem sterile at first, but slowly you'll start to see the importance of colour.
The first time I fell of a building I had to stand up, walk away from my desk and let my feet know that, thankfully, they were still firmly nestled against the ground. After a while you find yourself becoming claustrophobic in the game, being inside buildings grips you with a steady unease and you find yourself sprinting through hallways just so you can get to the safe sanctuary of the fresh air and open skies. The same can be said for height: the higher up you are, the safer you feel. You’re like Icarus, trying so hard to stay close to the sun, doing anything you can to stop from meeting the harsh, cold touch of the ground.

The game is full of these deep motifs – you feel like freedom only reigns above; free thought, free speech, that you’re not one of the mindless drones below, walking nowhere. The colour scheme of the game heightens this notion of a world constricted by mindless corporations and oppressive governments. Each major corporate establishment is divided by a single colour scheme that is used so blatantly that it’s overwhelming. It sucks all emotion from the levels and makes you feel like you are truly nothing more than a lonely individual in a world where conformity is key.

Mirror’s Edge is a game you might overlook, it might be a game that you’ll say “I’ll play that one day”. Well, days have come and days have gone and Mirror’s Edge is still a game that people talk about. Come and join the discussion.

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