The world of Mirror’s Edge is well realized without being explicit. Unlike the worlds of, say, Kojima, DICE does a great job of “show, don’t tell.” The exposition in the between-chapter cinematics always revolves around the protagonist, Faith, and her interactions, often brief exchanges, with other characters. There are no long soliloquies here.
More so, the environment that Faith traverses says a lot itself. There are news bulletins in the elevators (slash loading screens) that tell the city’s story, but ignoring this flavour text the design of the city itself is telling. The whitewashed, sterile landscape and all the staid corporate interiors that reveal little personal character suit the game perfectly. I wish the actual story-telling was this subtle.
Faith’s world is a pseudo-dystopian near future city where everything is regulated and all dissidents are kept to the margins, well outside of the controlled borders. It recalls the worlds of Running Man or Freejack. A metropolis that maintains cleanliness and peace through strict authoritarian control. It’s almost like Singapore, taken to its most extreme limit. It, and the likes of Shanghai, were likely influences: there are just as many signs and packages laced with asian script as there are those with latin script. It’s this kind grand designed east-meets-west type of city that you don’t see in North America or Europe (with one possible exception.) It’s a wonderful setting that I hope to see more of in the future.
A part of me wonders what life is like there. Faith and her partners live in the fringes, far away from the people you see walking the streets from forty floors up, so you never get a sense for what it is to live there. I imagine how boring it would be and how conformist and uniform everything is. I imagine a world in which self-expression is completely regulated, where dissidents are expelled, and trouble makers silenced. I imagine a world of consumers, rather than people, eating up constant advertising and designer products and living amongst it all in prefab condos with the same furniture from the same, sole retailer, wearing the same clothes as everyone else.
Then I downloaded Playstation Home and experienced it first hand.