The Cinematic Influences of Prey
By Richard Lynch
Earlier this year, the Alamo Drafthouse hosted a series screenings for movies that developer, Arkane Studios had been influential in the development of its latest game, Prey. Today, we’re going to look at these films and see how their influences may have made it into the final game. Spoilers follow for MOON, Starship Troopers, Total Recall, The Matrix, and of course, Prey.
Duncan Jones’ mind-bending trip through an isolated space station on the Moon may not have any alien monsters in it, but it certainly nails the feeling of isolation. The writers of Prey seem like they must have taken a ton of notes while watching this movie. The biggest takeaway was certainly the sense of isolation in space, but MOON also offers a road map for how to keep an audience second-guessing themselves even when the answer is right in front of them. Prey borrowed MOON’s story of clones coming to terms with being clones to address themes of uncertainty with who players can trust and what they believe about themselves. And it doesn’t hurt that it turns out the people you were talking to have been dead the whole time.
Total Recall (1990)
Prey may not be an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, but the similarities to Total Recall are almost too obvious to ignore. The most obvious comparison would be the use of memory wipes which are seen in both Total Recall and Prey and used to a similar effect. The ensuing after-effects of that memory wipe are a key point in Prey’s story that is designed cast doubt on everything around the player. Less obviously, the Transtar Cooperation would be right at home in a world where Rekall exists.
Starship Troopers (1997)
A bizarre and goofy cult classic which seems to miss the entire point of the novel it’s based on seems like a strange place to pull inspiration from when the game you are making is so serious by comparison. While Prey certainly doesn’t take any tonal cues from Starship Troopers. The idea’s that Prey borrows are more closely related world building with in-universe ads and propaganda, they take a similar over-the-top approach to the commercials that play intermittently throughout Starship Troopers.
The Matrix (1999)
To me, it seems that the Matrix actually hints at where Prey may go if there are sequels. We’re going to have to look at Prey’s ending and specifically a major twist, so SPOILERS if that wasn’t already clear. At the end of Prey, we learn that the entire experience was a simulation and that the world has already been lost to the Typhon. Alex has been searching for a Typhon creature who can learn empathy and free the world. Sound familiar? It’s basically the plot of the first Matrix movie, a story where one man escapes from the simulation and finds a way to become more than human. This could be a solid starting point for a sequel down the road, a sequel that will inevitably draw its influences from even more movies.