Many cultures have their own superheroes / beings / champions which serve as an endless font from which new lore may be drawn: The Japanese have Ninja. The Scots have Highlanders. The Chinese have Shaolin Monks. The Brits have a large collection of dry-wit detectives with super powers of observation and deduction of the Holmesean variety. I’ve enjoyed them and their many stories, but I’ve never been able to get into the Native American “Sprit Warrior” stuff. It just never worked for me.
The Prey Demo has changed this in short order. Like all of the other stuff I mentioned, I’m sure the story and characters as they are presented bear little or no resemblance to the source material. I’m sure the powers you employ in the game have nothing to do with any legends passed down among the Native American tribes. The legends did, I’m sure, contain lots of Eagles, Wolves, and stuff about spirits. Like a lot of stuff borrowed from different cutures, the writers crib from it to get new ideas and symbols, but the rest is simply recycled superman. The culture is used as an excuse to imbue the champion with superhuman power, and from there we’re off to save the world…
Which is a good thing in my book.
The game warmed up to me by playing to my dislikes. The main character is Tommy, a Native American who lothes his culture, hates the reservation, and who dreams of someday leaving and making his life elsewhere. The picture to the right doesn’t really match the Tommy you meet at the onset. The picture hints of a tough-as-nails kill ’em all soldier, but the Tommy I met was frustrated and unsure of himself. That is, he was far more captivating than the “Charles Bronson, Native American Style” vibe you get from the picture. There are some other characters to meet, and the game shows off a little technology before the aliens show up and the fun begins.
What I like is that the story makes you want and need your powers before it gives them to you. When you find yourself on the alien ship about to be turned into a snack, you aren’t suddenly imbued with powers and told to go kill some green bug-eyed monsters. No, for a while you survive though luck and fortitude, and the game does a very good job of convincing you that you are well and truly screwed if you don’t get some help. By the time grandfather shows up to guide you in the ways of the warrior, you are ready to believe in just about anything if it will let you administer some payback.
The powers, once introduced, are innovative. One lets you “spirit walk” by leaving your body and moving about as an etherial presence. This lets you bypass things like forcefields, fire, or other things that would impede or ruin your corporeal form, with the one caveat that while you are out frolicking about as casper the friendly spirit walker, your body is back where you left it, defenseless. And you really need to look after that thing.
The demo is generous as well: I’m used to game demos these days being a twenty-minute demonstration of the guns and toys you can play with in the full version, but little else. The Prey Demo has some meat on its bones. There is some story here, and a generous supply of gameplay as well.
One final bonus was that the demo was easy to obtain. In the past few years more and more companies have just thrown their demo up on FilePlanet where players must navigate the maze of links and face the minotaur of account creation in order to obtain it. Getting the free file without paying for it is almost a game in itself. Once you see the shining DOWNLOAD HERE link you know you’re still about six clicks and thirty banner ads away from your data. But the Prey Demo was so easy it was almost as if they wanted me to have it. I felt like some sort of thief, making off with their demo without paying for it by surrendering my email as part of the “create a new free user account” pact. It took me a mere two clicks to reach it, I never saw a single ad, and they never cared to ask how they might get in touch with me so that they could let me know about Special Offers.
Juvenile and Proud
Yes, this game is loud, crude, childish, and stupid. But it it knows what it wants to be and nails it. And that's admirable.
Programming Language for Games
Game developer Jon Blow is making a programming language just for games. Why is he doing this, and what will it mean for game development?
DM of the Rings
Both a celebration and an evisceration of tabletop roleplaying games, by twisting the Lord of the Rings films into a D&D game.
Project Button Masher
I teach myself music composition by imitating the style of various videogame soundtracks. How did it turn out? Listen for yourself.
The Gradient of Plot Holes
Most stories have plot holes. The failure isn't that they exist, it's when you notice them while immersed in the story.