Some games, as much as it pains me to say it, just shouldn’t be made.
But the Prey 2 I saw four years ago, the one developed by Human Head Studios and featured a human bounty hunter stranded on an alien world, didn’t belong in that category.
The details have begun to fade over the years, replaced with newer and fresher games and more rehashes of old titles than I’d care to talk about but, about four years ago, I actually got a chance to see Prey 2 first-hand in a rare closed-door demo.
I don’t remember everything, but I can recall that it had a rich world and a silent protagonist who stood on the right side of the law with weapons that would make Boba Fett green with envy. It had a plot line that, while threadbare at the time, held a lot of potential.
It was like Star Wars had a lovechild with Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, and that was something I never knew I wanted until I had it sitting in front of me
Even though I wasn’t allowed to play it – I was told that the game was far too prone to crashing to let someone who wasn’t on the development team try it – I thought about it for months after I saw it. It was like Star Wars had a lovechild with Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, and that was something I never knew I wanted until I had it sitting in front of me.
It was a painful pill to swallow back in 2012 when Bethesda pulled the plug on what could’ve been another brilliant IP, but that wound was re-opened this week when Prey re-emerged at Bethesda’s E3 2016 keynote as a twisted, confusing sci-fi first-person shooter.
Oh Prey, what have you become?
Admittedly, we don’t know much about the new title, other than that it takes place in the near future and borrows, at least a little from the plot of Groundhog Day.
But everything we’ve seen so far looks nothing like the game that I saw four years ago and, even stranger, nothing like the original.
Here, check out the trailer for yourself:
Now, compare that to the trailer for the original sequel.
The difference between the two is night and day. One creates an atmosphere of quiet malevolence, one where you can feel something is unwell but it’s lurking below the surface.
The other, the original, essentially puts you through the ringer in the first 10 seconds before showing you what the game is really like: a run-and-gun shooter set on a distant planet.
It wasn’t exactly a logical progression from the first game in the series, but the gun-centric gameplay of the original sequel still felt like it was essential, rather than something the developers tacked on at the end to give the game a little more depth.
Prey, the series about aliens, American Indians and outrageous weapons you knew on the Xbox 360, died four years ago and it’s never coming back
Apparently, however, according to Arkane Studios CEO and creative director Raphaël Colantonio, the discrepancy between these two styles is intentional.
“[Prey] has no ties to the original – it’s a re-imagining of the IP,” Colantonio said in an interview with Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb after Bethesda’s keynote.
That leads me to the only feasible conclusion: Prey, the series about aliens, American Indians and outrageous weapons you knew on the Xbox 360, died four years ago and it’s never coming back.
Prey’s untold story
Who knows, maybe I’m just pining for a game I never got the chance to play.
Maybe I’m so hard on the sequel – er, re-imagining, sorry – because I wanted to play the other sequel so badly.
Who knows, maybe I’m just pining for a game I never got the chance to play
But, maybe I’m right. Maybe the game we’re getting now isn’t half as exciting as the Prey 2 I saw four years ago. The more I think about it, the less I want to play a psychological space thriller, and the more I want to clean up the streets using alien technology and awesome parkour-style acrobatics to leap from building to building.
Again, though, it’s probably too soon to call. Prey, the re-make, was just announced today. Maybe in a year’s time I’ll feel the same way about it that I felt about the sequel.
But probably not.
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