"We call ourselves Runners. We exist on the edge, between the gloss and the reality - The Mirror's Edge. We keep out of trouble, out of sight. And the cops don't bother us. Runners see the City in a different way. We see the flow. Rooftops become pathways and conduits, possibilities, and routes of escape. The flow, is what keeps us running. What keeps us alive."
— Faith Connors
Mirror's Edge is a first-person action video game by DICE (Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment), set in a big, shiny city in a conformist police-state. You are cast as Faith, an illegal courier or "runner", whose job it is to hand-deliver messages and data across rooftops and skyways to avoid ubiquitous government monitoring of movement and communications.The story follows Faith in her struggle to free her unjustly-imprisoned sister. While running her clients' illegal messages, she gets caught up in a series of events which lead to her being ruthlessly pursued by the totalitarian government herself. Mercury, Faith's trainer and mentor, acts as her guide, helping her outwit, outrun, and overcome the sinister agents out to eliminate her.While the game is a first person shooter, guns are completely optional. Instead, Faith uses parkour to traverse rooftops and evade enemies. The rooftops turned into large puzzle pieces as players found their way to point B. The game also had an interesting art direction: the city was almost entirely sterile white save some sparse colors here and there. Items and places would turn red to point players in the right direction.An iPhone/iPad prequel was released in 2010. The gameplay was changed to a 2D Canabalt-style platformer, and the plot involves Mayor Callaghan's attempt to turn the public against the police so shenote She was male in the original game can replace them with her private military, something that was only hinted at in the original game.A Prequel was announced at E3 2013. See the announcement trailer here.
This game provides examples of:
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The storm-drain level, though it's justified as a storm drain designed to deal with tsunami flooding, possibly modelled on the G-Cans Project located just outside of Saitama, Japan.
Action Girl: Faith, but most of the main girls are as well.
Lampshaded on the penultimate level, when a voice overheard when moving noisily through the vents says, "Jesus, the rats are getting huge!". This comment is possibly lampshaded when one takes the below-mentioned Easter Egg into account.
All There in the Manual: The main issue with the story is that it is never properly explained within the game. You get more background from the Trailers than you do from the game.
A Tie-In Comic was released shortly afterwards, written by Rhianna Pratchett, who wrote the original game.
Awesome, but Impractical: Yes, if you were a suicidal adrenaline junkie, you too could learn to do almost everything that Faith does. You'd also learn why Jackie Chan hasn't been doing as many movies lately. Running along perpendicular walls works with the proper shoes and circumstances, as shown here. It takes a lot of training, but we can assume that Faith has completed that training. There is also a point in the game where she jumps off an eighty foot building and lands on her feet to escape from the "anti-runners". Ouch. On that note, we can easily conclude that well over half the "runners" ended up killing themselves with these stunts fairly quickly.
Bag of Spilling: When you die, any guns you picked up along the way will not respawn with you, so if you, for example, attempt to sneak a handgun through an entire level just to see if it's possible to just shoot the final boss, but miscalculate a single jump, well...
Balls of Steel: A slide kick in the groin is a very effective method of dispatching armed enemies (disabling them for just enough time for a disarm)... except the heavy troopers who explicitly wear groin protection with their armor and therefore only receive normal damage from such kicks. Also, the groin kicks don't work on the Parkour Killer, an early indication that it's a girl.
The Bechdel Test: With a female lead and two of the four principal supporting characters also ladies, it would seem that the game should pass easily. But if it does, it's just barely. Faith and Kate's biggest conversation mostly concerns Pope and the circumstances of his murder. Faith and Celeste's early conversations are about either Merc or Jacknife. The only conversation that unambiguously passes is a short one, when Celeste tells Faith why she's been trying to kill her.
Benevolent Architecture: The city seems very well supplied with convenient cables and pipes running between rooftops. Especially for a city which seems to consider trašeurs its Public Enemy Number One. On the other hand, almost every building has roof-mounted fences, often electrified or topped with razorwire.
Big Bad Friend: The Parkour Assassin turns out to be Faith's best friend Celeste, who realizes the Runners are about to be exterminated, and agrees to help the bad guys to save her own sorry ass.
Big Brother Is Watching: Although he's kind of a slacker, given the overall efficiency (or apparent lack thereof) of his police state.
Bittersweet Ending: Faith successfully rescues her sister and kills the man responsible for Pope's murder, but the Big Bad is nowhere to be seen, and they are both fugitives wanted for multiple murders. Her best friend has betrayed her, killing her beloved mentor and training the brutal police forces to kill all Runners. But she was able to shut down the City's Sinister Surveillance, at least temporarily, and that's what Runners do in a sense - enable the Resistance to plan in privacy. This battle has been won, and the war continues..
Black Helicopter: The CPF, and other city-sponsored fighting forces, like to travel in these. They're usually armed, and their machine gun fire adds an extra element of danger to Roof Hopping.
Book Ends: The prologue and the final level both end with Faith jumping onto a helicopter.
Boring, but Practical: Despite the game's emphasis on melee combat and running, you might find that it's easier and safer to handle attacking cops or PK elites by knocking out one, taking his gun, and using that gun to shoot all the others.
Brick Joke: A rather sad one. An office worker from PK decides that their project to eliminate runners, the horrible working conditions, among other controversial things such as "interrogating co-workers", isn't worth it and sends a mail that he's quitting. This is detailed in his personal diary and rant can be read on his computer. The file containing said rant is found open on his computer when you get to the PK facility. When you go through the depths of the facility, you find a corridor filled with windows leading to interrogation rooms. An office worker is in one of them. Beaten and bloody.
Bullet Time: "Reaction Time". For when precision maneuvering is a matter of life and death, accept no substitutes.
Camera Screw: The player's camera is permanently fixed to Faith's eyes. Keep in mind Faith has to rapidly twist in midair to wall-jump...
Captain Ersatz: Celeste bears a strong resemblance to Ăon Flux's Scaphandra, particularly her appearance in the video game.
Chekhov's Skill: The disarm from behind move you learn in the tutorial from Celeste is what you use to defeat her in the fight with her later on.
Climactic Elevator Ride: Reaching the final level's objective requires an especially long elevator ride. It shows how high the Shard rises beyond the rest of the city's skyline, where the player has been running for the entire game.
Climax Boss: Faith's rooftop chase and kung-fu duel with the Parkour Assassin. Hunting down and taking out a Runner gang leader as an attack helicopter stalks Faith in the IOS prequel.
Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Faith has been running for so long she instinctively sees useful terrain as bright red, and even if you turn this feature off some elements of the architecture remain easily identifiable thanks to their colour schemes (bright red doors and blue walkways).
Conveniently Empty Building: The game takes place in the height of summer, so it's not immediately apparent that many of the levels take place during very early morning or late evening when most people would still be sleeping or have finished work several hours ago. The mall is closed for some reasons (though there are commercials in the game claiming it's open 24/7) and another level is a construction site. However, it's all deliberate, as the complete desolation in the middle of a major city is a large part of the game's dystopian theme.
Certain malls and most stores close down on Sundays, especially in Sweden and it's Scandinavia sister countries. On the other hand, it could be that the store closed on a unmentioned holiday, in which most Scandinavia stores and malls close down.
The mall and subway were both closed for renovations.
Corrupt Politician: The opening narration tells us that the political elite are corrupt. The ending implies it's not that bad, but there's at least one man out there willing to murder opponents.
Cutscene Boss: Faith's "fight" with the minor villain Ropeburn, which consists of a cutscene and one quick time event before he's shot by one of your Evil Counterparts.
Cutscene Power to the Max: Averted. Everything Faith does in the 3D cutscenes can be executed with precisely timed inputs (except the hugs). In the opening, for example, Faith does a wall run, turns, triggers reaction time, then jumps onto the head of a crane. The only thing keeping players from doing it is a shortage of cranes (initially, anyway).
An interview with the developers revealed that the intro sequence didn't just use a series of the available animations - it was actually a recording of that section played by one of the devs! The concept was to show players what they would be able to do later in the game.
Played completely straight in one of the animated cut-scenes where Faith is surrounded by several armed Pirandello Krueger mercs. She drops down and she is surrounded by heavily armed mercs and they are all within close quarters. Faith all of the sudden goes Rambo and takes out all of them with melee combat as if she was this one woman army. In the game, you can be surrounded by them, but don't expect to fight out of them like in the cut-scene or expect to do so unscathed.The whole purpose of combat in this game is to fight in order to run away.
Difficult but Awesome: Disarm-counters instantly take down an enemy, and give you a free weapon, but you need to be in melee range (which means rushing at some one who is shooting at you), and you need to have very precise timing. Enemy melee attacks do a lot of damage, too, so if you fail to grab once, you might not get a second chance.
The Wall-Run Kick spins an enemy around, leaving them vulnerable to disarm attacks. Good luck getting an enemy into position to do that.
It's possible, with a lot of practice to become a Parkour Kungfu Master and kick the shit out of cops while looking incredibly badass.
Does Not Like Guns: Faith, and if you never use any of the guns that are dropped, you earn an Achievement/Trophy.
To add unto Faith's perception of not liking guns, you get a different radio-report playing in the credits, detailing that most P Ks and officers have been hurt and not killed.
Do Not Drop Your Weapon: Enemies only drop their guns when they die, and Faith's disarm moves are all one-hit knockouts.
Downer Ending: Crossed with Fridge Logic: Faith's best friend has turned against her. Merc, her big-brother figure, is dead. She's almost certainly on the hook for murder, as it would be very, VERY hard to get through all of the game without killing anyone, either explicitly by shooting them right in the goddamn face, or implicitly by 'nonlethally' knocking them off a very tall building. She hasn't succeeded in gathering any exculpatory evidence that goes anywhere in terms of proving Kate's innocence for murder in a court of law, but that's pretty irrelevant as law and order seems to flow from the barrels of hired guns in The City, and given that Pirandello-Kruger were shooting to kill without provocation before Faith potentially started slaughtering them, they're not going to hesitate to do so afterward. Kate's boss, the actual, ranked Detective, who probably could have helped in that matter (and likely had gathered evidence of his own) is dead as well... And, critically, Faith and Kate are still stuck on the top of a roof of the Shard at the end; a roof-top which contains a very heavily-armed kill squad that was trying to kill them moments earlier. Worse, Kate's handcuffed, and while she is armed, a truncheon isn't going to do much good against a SWAT team, and it's very unlikely that Kate would have the skills and ability to follow Faith on whatever elaborate escape route Faith might manage to take, even if she had her hands free, which she does not; and the pair of keys is likely on the ground somewhere, either where or near Jackknife hit, or somewhere in the flaming debris of the chopper. All that Faith's accomplished, then, the reward for all the suffering and insanity she's gone through, is that she gets to be turned into swiss cheese by bullets whilst hugging her sister, as opposed to not whilst hugging her sister.
It could be said that this is handwaved as it is said after the credits that they escaped. Somehow.
Easter Egg: Towards the end of the penultimate chapter ("Kate"), after correctly sniping the convoy's engine, quickly look up and snipe the middle dot on an orange sign showing nine dots. Quickly zoom out, and a giant rat, about the size of a car, will dart down the street. Click here to watch it, if you're curious.
A newscrawl in one of the elevator reports on the ongoing war in Sedaristan from Battlefield: Bad Company, another game by DICE.
Elite Mook: The Pursuit Cops can do a lot of the same parkour moves Faith can, so outrunning them can be challenging. In addition, they're immune to all melee attacks (except the Wall Run Kick, which allows you to take them out with one of Faith's disarming grabs), making it nigh-suicidal to attack them head-on. Merc will advise you to flee whenever you encounter one.
It is in fact possible to defeat Pursuit Cops with hand-to-hand combat, it just takes several well-timed hits. If you haven't spent a lot of time fighting, and don't know how the PCs telegraph their attacks, you're in for a walloping.
Escape Sequence: As you might guess, a game about running is full of these. On many occasions, you might find that luck, skill, and free use of guns allows you to fight your way past enemies you're supposed to flee from, but that won't fly when they break out the helicopters.
Everything Is an iPod in the Future: While all weapons and electronic devices seen on desks in the offices are black, the entire rest of the game world follows the iPod design concept.
Evil Counterpart: Two, actually. There's Celeste, the Parkour Assassin pursued by Faith through much of the game, and Jacknife, the retired Runner who takes responsibility for the entire evil plot in the final showdown, despite being just The Dragon to the (never seen) Big Bad.
Executive Suite Fight: Averted, Faith makes her way, and avoids the police, through several office buildings throughout the game.
Exploding Barrels: Played straight. Faith is usually unarmed, but her opponents can set them off for extra damage if she is near them. In a cutscene, Faith takes a gun from Celeste and kills a bunch of baddies by exploding a barrel.
Flipping the Bird: The "Sweet Goodbye" achievement. This is achieved by jumping forward, doing a 180 degree turn while in the air and then pressing the attack button in quick succession. This will make Faith flash a V-sign while falling backwards(This is the equivalent of flipping the bird in Britain, Ireland, and New Zealand).
Follow the Leader: This game inspired First Person Shooters to emphasize movement. Games like Brink and the sequel to Prey quickly referenced this game as inspiration.
Battlefield 3, also by DICE Studios also takes a very minor inspiration from this game by introducing similar movements for jumping over obstacles.
Follow the Plotted Line: Only a few missions actually show you the destination early on. Just following the paths on the roofs still magically gets you there.
Having lived in the city all her life, as well as being used to rooftop navigation, it's generally assumed that Faith knows her way around the city.
Foreshadowing: Notice the computer screens when Faith finds the information about Project Icarus. All the runners have their information filled in or marked as "unknown" - except for Celeste, whose info is marked as being "Classified".
Also, when Merc says "Who knows who [Jacknife]'s working for now", the elevator Faith's in is showing advertisements for Callaghan, Pirandello Kruger, and both Callaghan and Pirandello Kruger.
Fragile Speedster: Faith simply can't take on more than one or two Blues head on before getting shot to hell. This is not a problem since she can frequently zoom right past them. If you compare speed runs on YouTube, you'll actually find runs where some enemies fail to appear entirely - normally they are set to intercept Faith, but the player is so far ahead that they can only break down the door and yell "Freeze!" at an empty room. Buh-bye!
Though, it should be noted, Faith is only a Fragile Speedster relative to first person action protagonists. Given that she can take multiple gunshot wounds and keep running, and beat a heavily armoured cop in riot gear to death with just a few punches, in real life she'd be more of a Lightning Bruiser.
And how fast is she? Faith in a full sprint can maintain a speed of 26 km/hr(16.2 mph). Usain Bolt clocks in at a 37 km/h and that is in a 100 meter dash. Faith literally runs long distances at this speed. The average speed for the top Olympic Marathon runner was 20 km/hr. Yes, Faith could probably outrun most Olympic athletes, male or female.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: The heavy presence of cameras is focused on as one of the city's invasions of privacy, but there are no consequences for running right past one and at no point are they treated like something that needs to be avoided.
Gender Bender: The original mentions Callaghan as a male exactly once in the entire game. The iOS version mentions her as a female several times.
Punch Clock Villain: Celeste still hangs out with the other Runners and hints to them to give up that life, as her other job is training a new unit of mercenaries that will capture or eliminate all Runners in The City.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Very much averted. Carrying weapons reduces Faith's speed and agility, so while she can disarm enemy mooks and use their guns against them, she must usually discard them immediately; how can you shimmy up a pipe while carrying a 50. caliber sniper rifle?
The exception is the pistol and the machine pistol, which are both small enough that Faith can carry them without slowing down a bit. Unfortunately, they also have the smallest ammo clips out of any weapon in the game (except the shotgun, but that's another story entirely).
Truth in Television: most people (including a number of experienced cops) sincerely believe that More Dakka will instantly reduce targets to hamburger. Inexperienced and/or overconfident law enforcement officers regularly empty their badge-granted leadspitters at unarmored targets at less than five meters, and don't put a scratch on them because they forget to aim. Burning off too much ammo at once blows accuracy to hell. And police forces that rely too heavily on intimidation never really get enough weapons practice. Add all that up, then order the poor, doomed mooks to hunt down a human hamster. Hilarity Ensues.
Averted when playing on Hard difficulty. Can you say Oh, Crap, Runner? The first shot by any mook almost always misses, but lets them sight in on you. Every shot after that can be expected to hit unless you take cover - real cover. This actually makes various sequences very difficult due to not being able to disarm or defeat mooks.
Played straight in a cutscene, where a whole group of police shoot at Faith and Celeste (neither of whom has any sort of cover) for several seconds without hitting.
It's Personal: Faith happily zips past the cops, and the police department don't dispatch a small platoon to deal with one runner. That is, until they take her sister.
Justified Tutorial: Faith was injured before the events of the game in unspecified circumstances and Merc had to check to see if she was 100%. It's also skippable.
Kent Brockman News: The poorly disguised propaganda broadcasts that pass for network news throughout the game.
Laser Sight: The snipers have these, apparently to give away their position.
Really useful when you have a Sniper Rifle too; not only do you sensibly have the laser switched off, but you can use their beams to trace up to them with the scope. It even produces a handy little dot if they're behind cover!
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Faith is in an elevator, the TV screen on the elevator flashes various messages about the state of the city. One message outlines tips for determining if someone you know is secretly a Runner, and one of the tips is "A fondness for the color red", the dominant color of the game's "Runner Vision".
Light Is Not Good: Everything in The City is perfectly clean and shining white, and there is never a single wisp of cloud on the perfectly blue sky. Yet it all feels very sterile and there's almost no sign of actual life, except for lots of construction sites and hordes of police chasing after you. It makes the entire place actually a bit creepy, or at least unnerving.
More Dakka: The machine gun. Extremely deadly when it's in an enemy's hands and extremely satisfying when it's in Faith's.
Never Found the Body: Celeste is not seen after Faith blows up a gas can between them and some incoming Blues after their final showdown. However, it seems implied that it isn't that she thinks that Celeste is dead, but rather does not want to deal with her anymore due to how upset she is.
Noodle Incident: At the beginning of the tutorial, Merc mentions that Faith was taken out of action for a while due to an unspecified injury she sustained.
Notice This: Faith's "Runner Vision" highlights certain objects along her route in bright red, showing the player which way to go, though it doesn't always show the best route. You can turn it off from the options menu.
It is forced off on Hard difficulty, which would be unbearable if it didn't require you to have cleared the game to play on Hard.
Not the Fall That Kills You: Averted. You can roll or crouch to avoid damage from sensible jumps, but more than that and you're going splat. And you get a couple of seconds to meditate on your failure.
However, if you don't shoot anyone, then you will have to deal with at least a couple of enemies in other ways, if only because even Faith isn't fast enough to dodge a heavy machine gunner camped right by the door she needs to use.
Le Parkour: The entire premise of the game. Well, an unbelievably over-the-top and virtually suicidal form of parkour, anyway.
Of course, they also got complaints about the exact opposite: that being able to see nearly your entire body combined with the unusually realistic first-person camera movement provided too much kinesthetic sense due to illusory prioperception, leading to nausea.
Post-Cyberpunk: Both the games visuals and plot place it firmly into the post-cyberpunk genre. But at the same time, futuristic weapons or electronics are completely absent. The few times people do use computers, it's to read documents during cutscenes, and the most complex electronic devices the player uses are elevator buttons.
The Precarious Ledge: Faith slows down long enough to creep across ledges on the rooftops, such as during the training sequence whilst following Celeste. These short sections come with Plummet Perspective too.
Press X to Not Die: When Ropeburn swings that pipe at you, grab it or he'll smack you one and throw you right off the building!
Private Military Contractors: If you look closely, you'll notice the more heavily-armed "Blues" in the game wear black PK uniforms instead of the blue CPF uniforms worn by the city police. Faith herself somehow misses this little detail until a CPF character points it out to her in the very last level. Turns out they're all security forces of Pirandello/Kruger, a PMC that turns out to be one of your main enemies.
Racing Ghost: A transparent red one. Some gamers just follow it at a reduced pace just to witness the coolness from a third-person perspective.
Real Is Brown: Gloriously averted, for once, with brightly colored buildings and clear blue skies.
Although green is mostly absent to give a feeling of sterility. Even the plants are white.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Faith (red oni) and Kate (blue oni). On a larger scale, the City is divided between the Totalitarian Utilitarian government (which is associated with the color blue through their police force and Jacknife. The police force are even called "Blues" by runners) and the runners, the defiant, passionate young couriers of the rebellion (who specifically associate with red via "runner vision" and their personal effects).
Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: If Faith gets up in their faces, her opponents will attempt to club the She-Fu master with their weapon rather than shoot her. And then wonder why she's holding it all of a sudden.
Shout-Out: Faith scrambling up, along then off a crane doesn't recall a certain scene in a movie perhaps? No? Here's a hint.
Steam vents are particularly irritating obstacles because they require you to stop and rotate the nearby valves for a couple of seconds. This is a game where even braking down reduces your success chances.
Tempting Fate: The final boss's taunt to Faith: "You can't live on the edge all your life, Faith. Sooner or later, you have to jump." And jump she does.
The Tetris Effect: You, too, will develop "Runner Vision". After completing this game, all pipes, ladders and cranes you see will be cherry-red. And you will find yourself plotting the best way to navigate them.
Third-Person Seductress: Averted in an admirable fashion. Faith is a truly attractive woman, but she is also just as slender and athletic as a marathon-running acrobat should be, and her practical tank-top, cargo-pants and jika-tabi shoes are clothes a trašeuse might actually wear. Stripperific, no. Cool, definitely.
The creators cared so much about how they went out of their way to make her design attractive but not Stripperific, that when someone released a Photoshopped image, they expressed considerable disappointment that their athletic heroine had been transformed into "twelve-year-old with a boob job."
Throw Away Guns: Faith throws away her gun whenever she runs out of ammo, and you cannot reload a gun at all. Justified, since she can't carry extra bullets anyway.
Tightrope Walking: Faith can run on thin pipes and planks if need be. This can involve manual balance (not just keeping her upright by wiggling the stick or Sixaxis) such as when Faith had to run on a crane; at these times her survival is dependent on the skill of the player at keeping her feet centered, not just her center of gravity. In-game comments allude to the danger of this trope.
Goes with Something Completely Different as the place for the Time Trial DLC takes place in some rather abstract levels, specifically designed to have players go through trial and error for the fastest time.
Title Drop: In the intro movie: "We call ourselves Runners. We exist on the edge between the gloss and the reality; the Mirror's Edge." In this case, it seems to be not so much shoehorning the phrase in, but explaining it, which is kind of a nice change from the norm.
As said in Caring Potential, you have a few opportunities to throw enemies off of high places, if you're feeling sadistic. The most noticable option for it is when a shotgun-wielding PK comes out from a construction building as you parkour through it, your most likely reaction is to jumpkick him head-on.
Until he gets killed. Then Miller takes over during the final level until HE gets killed.
Walk It Off: it's slightly disconcerting to have survived several bursts of automatic gunfire and recovered, only to corner the guy and get laid out by two consecutive Pistol Whippings.
Wall Jump: Faith is practically freaking Spider-Man. Just don't try to Wall Crawl. Show some respect for the laws of physics!
Wilhelm Scream: Appears in the smart phone prequel. Kick a merc off a building and you'll hear it.
Window Pain: You want to hide behind glass in that building? Well, the enemies will shoot at you, and the glass will break.
A Winner Is You: After clearing the final level and saving Kate (again), they just hug without a word, the camera pans out to show most of the city, and the credits roll. The only epilogue we get is during the credits, in the form of a brief news soundclip suggesting that Faith and Kate have eluded the police once again, which is hardly a surprise given the many daring escapes Faith pulled off in the story.
What Happened to the Mouse?: During that final confrontation, there are mooks shooting at you. After the confrontation—which does not involve fighting them, or leaving the area on a permanent basis—they are magically gone so that the credits can roll.
We can assume that the mooks fled the scene when chopper lost control. You wouldn't like to be on a roof when a chopper loses control and is about to crash into said building.