Welcome to the Cookie Jar, where I delve into games and related topics. This Throwback Thursday, I’m taking a trip down memory lane with Prey (2006). This game holds a special place in my gaming heart. Released in 2006, Prey was a pivotal game in my gaming journey. At just 12 years old, I embarked on this adventure on Xbox 360. It is an experience akin to my time with the memorable Area 51.
The Journey of Prey
Despite Prey (2006) being a commercial success that sold more than one million copies in the first two months of its release, development for the sequel never came to fruition. After many years, Bethesda and Arkane Studios wound up with the creation and IP rights for Prey. They rebooted the game into a new story but still featured the original concept of hunting aliens. Thus, Prey (2017), the video game most of you probably know, was born. The original Prey is a first-person shooter developed by Human Head Studios (contracted by 3D Realms) and published by 2K Games. The Xbox 360 version was ported by Venom Games.
Prey (2006) The Story
In Prey, we play through the eyes of Cherokee native and main protagonist, Domasi “Tommy” Tawodi. After serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, Tommy lives on a Native American reservation as a garage mechanic. His girlfriend, Jen, owns a bar on the reservation. They are at the bar with Tommy’s grandfather when the alien spaceship known as the Sphere abducts them. This event triggers a deep dive into Tommy’s Cherokee heritage, awakening spiritual abilities.
As Tommy faces a barrage of alien threats, the spirit of Tommy’s grandfather, Enisi, helps him discover spiritual abilities from his Cherokee lineage in The Land of the Ancients. Tommy also is granted a spirit guide, Talon, which is the soul of his childhood pet hawk. Prey’s climax arrives when he confronts a transformed Jen, forced into an agonizing decision. Tommy finds the alien pod holding his girlfriend, Jen. But it’s too late as her lower half has been surgically replaced by a rabid alien creature that she can’t control. In a kill or be killed situation, Tommy fights the creature, ultimately defeating it. Unable to separate Jen from the dead alien, she begs Tommy to kill her. Tragically, he does just that.
Confrontation with the Mother
Tommy’s path leads him to a showdown against the Mother of the Sphere. In a surprising twist, she is a human woman who was abducted from Earth long ago. She had defeated the previous Mother of The Sphere. We learn that whoever defeats the Mother of the Sphere gets to take their place and reap the mighty power that comes with the ship. Tommy does defeat her, and she begs him to take over the Sphere as the new Mother.
A Sacrificial End
Before he answers, a burst of light engulfs Tommy. He finds himself inside the Mother’s den overwhelmed by data which mentally and physically courses through him as he obtains immense power. His grandfather, Enisi, appears from the spirit realm and helps him overcome the sensation of power. In Prey’s final, sacrificial act, Tommy steers the Sphere into the sun, choosing to end its existence. In The Land of the Ancients, he reunites with Enisi and Jen, finding solace in the hope for a peaceful existence.
Game Gush: Unexpected Pleasures
Reflecting on my experience with Prey, I realize that as a child, I had no inkling of what awaited me in the game. Unlike today’s inundation of trailers and previews, back then, there was an element of delightful surprise. My parents would take me and my brother to Blockbuster (I know, I know, such a long time ago) almost every other weekend to rent a movie or video game. There was no serious expectation for a game, and you would probably feel happy picking out just about anything from the rental store.
Prey (2006) happened to be one of these Blockbuster games, and I am so glad I was able to play it. Strangely, this is also one of the few games I remember playing that had a Native American as the main character. I have very little Native blood (my great-great-grandmother was half-blooded Cherokee), but I do love learning about other cultures. I’m sure not everything is depicted accurately for the culture in the game. However, it does bring to light that more Native American culture would be fun to explore in more video games.
Lessons from Prey
Prey imparts a valuable lesson: the worth of picking up a game and diving in, free from preconceived notions. It’s a reminder that the most thrilling moments often arrive when least expected.