Prey happened to be a rented Blockbuster video game. I am so glad I was able to play Prey. Native American influences and aliens? Sign me up!
Hello friends and gamers,
Welcome to the Cookie Jar, the place where I talk about games and discuss topics related to the game. You’re tuned in to my Throwback Thursday series where I like to reflect on games throughout my childhood. Like other Throwback Thursday titles, Prey (2006) holds a special place in my heart for video games. I was about 12 years old when I played Prey on the Xbox 360. The last time I dealt with aliens at this age was in the video game, Area 51 (another memorable game from my childhood).
Despite Prey 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.
You 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, and they are at the bar with Tommy’s grandfather when the alien spaceship known as the Sphere sucks them up in bright green lights.
At the start of the game, Tommy doesn’t like his Native American heritage. But after the alien abduction, the loss of his grandfather, the obsession to find his girlfriend, and the need to stay alive on the Sphere, he reconsiders tapping deep within his Cherokee roots. The spirit of Tommy’s grandfather, Enisi, helps him discover spiritual abilities from his Cherokee lineage in The Land of the Ancients. One such learned ability is spirit-walking, a spiritual force that separates from the body in order to solve puzzles, locate paths invisible to the human eye, and activate control panels out of reach from mortal bodies. Tommy also is granted a spirit guide, Talon, which is the soul of his childhood pet hawk.
After fighting through multiple alien threats, platforming through portals, and across gravity fields, 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. Sadly, he does just that.
At the end of the game, Tommy is faced with the Mother of the Sphere, a human woman who was abducted from Earth long ago and who had defeated the previous Mother of The Sphere. 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.
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. At the end of the day, Tommy steers the Sphere to be obliterated by ramming it straight into the sun. In The Land of the Ancients, Tommy meets Enisi and Jen once more, hoping that he can finally live there in peace. Enisi tells Tommy his time is not over. After a short goodbye, Tommy is returned to Earth fully intact. And that’s the story!
Game Gush Gamer Initiated
Alright, so first off—as a kid, I had no clue what this game was about when I booted it up on my console. In a way, I miss the days that didn’t give you teaser trailers, trailers, gameplay footage, and an abundance of knowledge about a game before you play it. I think one thing gamers love about these older video game titles is the pure experience of the game, and not really knowing what to expect going into it. 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. Back then, there was no serious expectation for a game, and you would probably feel happy picking out just about anything from the rental store.
Prey 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, but it does bring to light that more Native American culture would be fun to explore in the genre of video games.
The alien 3D models were actually done extremely well. I probably had nightmares after playing this game, but luckily I don’t remember those. Check out these bad boys on the screenshots below.
What’s funny to me after thinking about it a while is what happens right before the alien spaceship abducts Tommy in the introductory scene of the game. Remember, I have no idea what I’m expecting or that I’m about to unleash hell on some alien scum for the next 5 hours. All I know at this point is I’m some guy named Tommy talking to himself in the mirror of the bathroom about how he is stupid because he can’t tell his girlfriend he loves her. I walk in the hallway and meet the grandfather who is dressed in a tribal outfit telling me about how the winds are blowing in a bad direction or something like that. Tommy doesn’t care.
Walking into the main room, there are casino games lined on the wall, and Jen is behind the bar. Skip forward 5 minutes and these Caucasian dudes are starting trouble in the bar and messing with Jen. Tommy grabs his wrench off the counter and flatlines the two guys. Trust me, these guys aren’t waking up in the morning either. They are dead. Tommy has just committed two counts of murder. Saved by the bell though, the Sphere arrives and abducts everything in sight. The rest of the game is spent pulverizing aliens into dust and building harmony with your Cherokee spirit. Honestly, I love it!
Prey is a video game that reminds me that sometimes you just need to pick a game out and start playing. Although judging books by their covers are habitual in this day and age, you may land yourself on a thrilling experience you were never expecting. I believe those exciting moments in life are far more rewarding when least expected.