I enjoyed Mirror’s Edge for the gameplay and interesting take on the platforming genre, but as far as the storyline goes, it has extremely little appeal. However, I would like to set the gameplay and story aside and take a deeper look at something not often lingered upon, the game’s setting: the unnamed city that I assume is called New Eden from my digging around in the game’s periphery.
The city that hosts Mirror’s Edge at first glance is a beautiful, clean metropolis. It appears to be very utopian, with low crime and tall, spotlessly clean architecture. Aesthetically, if I were to live in a heavily populated urban environment, New Eden would seem like a highly desirable location to inhabit. The environmental aesthetics shown in the trailer were a driving force behind my purchase of the title.
Dig beneath that glossy exterior though, and you will uncover that the city is not as desirable a place to inhabit as it might seem. While, New Eden was once a more ordinary place, over time increased surveillance on behalf of the mayoral government was added to the city’s infrastructure. This heavy surveillance was ignored initially, but eventually led to protests and the “November Riots” where protestors were captured and killed by the local police force.
At the time when Mirror’s Edge takes place, New Eden is oppressed by a totalitarian regime that heavily monitors any and all electronic forms of communication; hence the existence of the “Runners” that create the game’s cast. In addition to an extensive system that watches and listens in on its citizens, New Eden also has several divisions of police forces, some that are even contracted out to third party mercenaries, in order to enforce the Mayor’s tyrannical will through use of state terrorism.
Colour also plays an important role in painting New Eden as a totalitarian society. The city appears very sterile, and thus is largely white and reflective glass, that play into the titular name of where the Runners and other societal recluses living on the fringe. Other than that sterility, much of the environments in New Eden are exclusively painted in bold primary and secondary colours that allude back to other totalitarian societies in history.
Other than the limited portions of free roaming platforming, the most interesting part of Mirror’s Edge was the silent backstory that could be viewed as much, or as little, as the player wants. No one wanted to play this game to fight cops or hear Rhianna Pratchett blather on about Faith and her sister, but those that did play through Mirror’s Edge quickly without stopping and smelling the roses, missed out on one of my favourite things about the title. Various things, such as City Eye, the municipal news company spews propaganda and heavily censored news for the government really helped to flesh out what could have been just another flat picture of totalitarian rule in modern storytelling.
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Kyle MacGregor Burleson 1