In a Eurogamer video Chris Bratt investigates the Prey 2 we never played, after it was cancelled back in 2014. And boy did that game look like something else, especially after hearing about its recently revealed final plot twist.
A plot twist we might as well spoil now as you'll never get to experience the game first hand.
Prey 2 was backed by Bethesda, just like the recent reboot Prey, but told a very different story. Acting as a standalone sequel to 2006's Prey, which took 11 years to develop for Human Head Studios, Prey 2 had what looked to be a unique and highly ambitious plot. Sadly, we never got to play it as the game "wasn't meeting Bethesda's expectations."
If you're confused about all the different Prey #videogames, that's understandable. Just hang on to the fact that basically any Prey game made up until now has been a sci-fi shooter with a standalone story, and that Prey 2's story was bonkers in the best way possible.
A Long And Troubled Development
Prey 2 was announced in 2006, a few months after the release of Prey. During E3 2011 we got a cinematic glimpse of the upcoming game in the trailer above, teasing a bounty-hunter themed open world.
This was never realized as Human Head quietly ceased development on the game in late 2011 for unstated reasons, despite having progressed to a near alpha release state. In 2014, Bethesda officially cancelled the game.
But Eurogamer's video unveils new information about Prey 2 straight from the game's former developers, who are now able to tell the unfinished story.
A Seemingly Simple Game
Prey 2 revolved around Killian Samuels, a former US Marshall who was transporting a prisoner on a spacecraft that visibly crashed into The Sphere in the first Prey. The game would begin with Killian waking up in the wreckage, and then quickly being knocked out by some alien guy who takes him prisoner.
Then the game jumped 10 years ahead. Killian is working as a bounty hunter on the planet Exodus, where he's apparently the only human, and that was basically the original pitch: an open-world bounty hunter game set in an alien noir mega city.
Simple but pretty cool, right? Though, as it turns out, Prey 2's plot was a lot more complicated than that.
An Action-Focused Video Game Version Of Moon
Firstly, the game would introduce Tommy, the protagonist from Prey, as the only other human living on Exodus. Killian and Tommy eventually join forces as they discover that Exodus is secretly controlled by The Keepers, the evil Sphere-building race from Prey, bent on destroying Earth, and that they are the only ones capable of stopping them.
Nothing special about this plot, but what would've made Prey 2 stand out was how its narrative explained how a player could die and come back to life over and over again. Because even though you get the impression that Killian and Tommy are meeting each other for the first time in your playthrough, this isn't the case.
The two have met many times before. Eventually you realize that Killian has been cloned, and every time you die in the game you wake up in your apartment as a new version of yourself with no memory of your death. This has happened hundreds of times in the 10 years since Killian began his hazardous career as a bounty hunter.
Which basically makes Prey 2 the video game adaptation of whatever movie you'd end up with if you bred Ridley Scott's Blade Runner with Duncan Jones' Moon.
But It Gets Even Weirder Than That
So, this isn't a cookie-cutter way of explaining dying and respawning in video games, but it kind of makes sense. Especially because Human Head really thought the twist through.
Like, towards the end of the unreleased game, when Killian and Tommy are fighting through a new Sphere created by The Keepers, you'd come across a place with dozens of your own dead bodies spread across the floor. An especially difficult encounter followed, as this place was as far as you (and your clones) had ever made it.
And now for the really crazy twist at the end of Prey 2.
Because after you'd defeat the Keepers and seemingly break Killian's cycle of Sisyphus-like reincarnation, you return to Earth. While the credits roll, you're told how your protagonist settles down, has kids and eventually dies of old age, content and peaceful. But as his life force leaves his body and you hear the pulse monitor on the hospital utter a last, prolonged beeep, you'd once again find yourself transported back to that soulless room on Exodus, and a voice would greet you:
"Welcome back, Killian".
Story Deemed Too Confusing By Bethesda
That is next-level storytelling, somewhat complex but radically different. Too bad it was never approved and all that development work amounted to nothing.
Apparently, Bethesda's marketing team didn't approve of Prey 2's plot. They thought it would be too confusing for most players to understand. Nice to know they have faith in their customers. Sure, the plot is more complicated than those found in your average first-person shooter, but that isn't really a bad thing.
Perhaps it was Bethesda's lack of faith in the ambitious project that led to the Human Head developers being turned off by the project, eventually giving up on it completely. We will probably never know. What we can do is feel remorse that we'll never get our hands on the original Prey 2, and hope someone, someday will come up with another Blade Runner / Moon-inspired video game as good as this one promised to be.