Spoilers for Prey 2017 not 2006.
One of my favorite things in Prey is the morality system. Now players Prey Twenty-Seventeen are probably thinking. “Prey doesn’t have a morality system.” Too which I say. Prey wants to make you think there’s no morality system. And that’s why it’s one of my favorite things in it. I like to think video games are getting better with morality systems. Hopefully were past the days where its ether picking red or blue. Not to say Prey is the end all be all or the greatest system to date. But it’s a nice step.
For the most part Prey never gives you a black or white decision. There’s definitely moments like. Kill random man to get upgrade points or let him live for nothing. Which are boring. The games morality mostly comes with how far are you willing to go. It’s not a simple press the left or right button choice. I think a good example of this comes early in the game.
You meet up with Morgan’s ex-girlfriend. She’s not doing great. She needs her medicine and is asking you to go get it. Most games would have you go across the room grab it. Prey makes you work a little bit harder. You have to go across the ship to get it for her and there’s a timer. A pretty generous time but still a timer. What’s also important about this moment is that you don’t get a game over for losing. She can die. That’s a character you could lose for the entire game if you just don’t feel like helping her. Prey makes being a good person just a little bit harder than it is to be a bad person. Not amazing but better.
Prey is constantly throwing little moments like this into the game. Most of them aren’t hard decisions to make. Prey didn’t even need to have this hidden Morality system in the game. Most games it would have been a side quest that could be ignored. Thanks to the writing in the game it helps strive you to do a little extra. The best moment with this was a moment in a late game side mission. You find a message from your exes lost dad. To boil it down your company killed him. Now she wants to know what happen to her dad. You can show it to her so she can hopefully get some closure. Or keep it to yourself so she doesn’t hate you. The game doesn’t tell you the right or wrong answer. Now the game does except you to know right from wrong. But it doesn’t highlight it. It’s yours to pick. Also if you choose to show it to her she doesn’t forgive you. The game has a small consequence for it. Which is good. Prey is good.
This culminates in an end game twist. You wake up in a lab. Find out it was all a simulation to test out your empathy points the game has secretly been keeping track of. A character says that the PC knew it was dreaming the whole time. That it choses probably didn’t matter. You get it. IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE PLAYING A VIDEO GAME. You get it. I thought it was neat. Anyway A.I versions of NPCs recount all the times the game was secretly testing you. Then if you did well the game will give you a final choose for some reason.
It gives you two buttons. Kill your brother or shake his hand. Now I have no clue why this game that was doing alright would give you a black and white choose like that at the end. It’s really lame actually. I have no clue why a player who has done well throughout the game would choose to kill his brother. Anyway besides from the game seeming like it actually had no clue what it was doing. Preys hidden morality has been done before. It’s been done better. Still it’s great that were getting away from boring shitty morality systems. Into something a little bit more.