How Mirror’s Edge Uses Setting and Gameplay to Create a Relaxing Experience
One of the first games that I bought when I first got my hands on a PlayStation 3 was Mirror’s Edge. I was in high school and was infatuated with free-running at the time. The idea that Mirror’s Edge was a game where I could do this in first-person had me excited. Upon playing the game, it immediately became a permanent fixture on my list of favorites. It wasn’t just the free running. It was the feeling. It was the fluidity. It was the world. Something about Mirror’s Edge hooked me. The game just felt special in a way that I couldn’t pinpoint at the time. After recently playing the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst beta, that same feeling I got while playing the original game returned. As a matter of fact, it was amplified by the open-world. But what is this feeling I get while playing Mirror’s Edge and where does it come from?
The feeling that I get while playing Mirror’s Edge is relaxation. This is something I’ve spoken to nobody about. I’ve done no research on the matter I am only pulling from my own personal experience with Mirror’s Edge. There is something calming about both the gameplay experience and the setting in which this experience takes place. To be honest, I’m not sure whether this is something that the developers purposely intended on doing. But, it seems that different facets of the game design contribute to Mirror’s Edge being a calming and relaxing game.
Mirror’s Edge is all of the fun of free running minus the actual athleticism and physical exertion required to actually free run. The idea of free running in real life seems awesome, and for lack of a better word, free. But when actually free running in Mirror’s Edge, there is an immersion and fluidity that takes place. That fluidity in motion mixed with the act of constantly solving these minor puzzles of how to get from point A to Point B create a gameplay experience that is not only engaging, but creates no stopping points. In Mirror’s Edge you are always playing. You are always moving and there is no down time because what usually would be the down time in a game (travelling from place to place) is the actual gameplay in Mirror’s Edge. The game creates a loop that stays consistently active and rewarding. Every time a jump is made feels good. Every time a roll is executed well feels good. Constant motion is what the game is about and this makes it feel doubly as good when mixed with the idea of the wind in your character’s face as your running. This is where the premise and setting comes in.
The developers, Dice, created a fun playground for the player to play in. But, it’s not just about the playground. The aesthetic of the playground plays a deep role in creating a relaxing environment. Mirror’s Edge takes place on the rooftops of a very clean, utopian city. The purity of the environment makes the gameplay feel pure. This is because the gameplay is all about navigating and exploring this pure environment. The soundtrack contributes to this feeling of purity by adding music and sounds that are simple but pull from electronic rhythms and instrumentation. The soundtrack also does its best to create a sense of wonder about the world while complimenting the action/spy genre nature of the game. Everything the game does at an audio and visual level is being done to create a setting that is pure in nature and calming to be in. The world in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is corrupt, yet I makes the player want to be there. The act of being in the world in Mirror’s Edge and playing in the world both work in tandem to create an experience that is calming for the player. In my experience, Mirror’s Edge is the most relaxing game I’ve ever played and I love it for it.