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Flow is the secret element that makes parkour games feel good

But there’s more to that feeling than just doing cool stunts

Parkour games capture the very physical experience of deftly climbing up buildings and leaping over walls. These games let you experience a level of grace and strength that only a few people achieve in real life — people like Frosti Fresh, Ubisoft’s Chief Parkour Officer for games like Assassin’s Creed Unity.

Frosti, and all of developers we interviewed, said freerunning in games tries to capture flow, the feeling of control that you get from trusting your body and the world around you. That’s a pretty elusive and physical feeling to capture in a game mechanic, but good parkour games somehow tap into it.

It’s easy to take for granted the secrets behind this feeling when it happens so smoothly, but developers in franchises like Mirror’s Edge and Assassin’s Creed use lots of weird tricks to make the gameplay feel real, even when it’s couldn’t be farther from reality.

We talked to animators, level designers, the creative director for Dying Light 2, and more to figure out just how complicated it is to capture the pure feeling of flow. Check out the video above to see how profoundly the search for flow has shaped some of your favorite games.

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