Prey (2017) is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated games to release last year. There are several factors that likely contributed to that. It didn’t see that much in the way of marketing. Its beta, while quite enticing, may have revealed too much and unintentionally encouraged unreasonable expectations. The fact that this was a reboot of the Prey series rather than a proper sequel pretty much secured the game’s underwhelming reception. I’m not saying the game doesn’t deserve some of the shade thrown its way. As much as I enjoyed it, there are things it does that I would like to see expanded or tweaked if a sequel ever happens.
That aside, there’s plenty to enjoy in the game if you’re a fan of open-ended combat, cool powers and a rewarding stealth system. I’d like to include music in that list too, but music really doesn’t come into play all that often. There’s actually only two noteworthy songs used in the game. “Mind Games” is the song that plays at the end and is alright as far end credits music goes. On the other hand, Prey opens with “Everything Will Be Okay,” one of the better themes to come out of gaming in recent years.
Video by YouTube user: UnreleasedGameMusic
Now whether or not you think the song itself is good will depend on whether or not you enjoy electronic music to begin with. I very much do, so it already gets bonus points from me because of that. That’s not important here though. What is important is how this song is used. Prey uses this song to underscore what appears to be a truly exciting day in the life of Morgan Yu, our protagonist. Before things take a turn for the really interesting, Morgan has a great morning. They wake up in a cool, downtown San Francisco apartment. They get an enthusiastic message from their brother (the CEO of a major technology corporation called TranStar) talking about getting ready to go into space and accomplish great things together. They get a corporate helicopter to fly them over the cityscape and are treated to a fantastic view on their way to the TranStar office. It’s a triumphant and confident piece that underlines a “Yes, I finally made it to the big leagues!” kind of moment and makes it all the more powerful when things are eventually turned on their head.
Good game music already gets plenty of praise, but it’s almost always for its form and quality. While it’s important to praise music based on its quality, it’s just as important to praise it based on its function (and how well that function was served). “Everything Will Be Okay” is used to help set up a powerful “through the looking glass” moment by making the opening feel that much more exciting. If it weren’t for the fact that something needs to go wrong in order for there to be a game, it would sell the game’s opening fairly well. As it stands, it does at least help keep the player from suspecting things are amiss up until they’re asked to participate in an odd series of tests.
Prey has a very strong opening and much of that strength comes from the excitement “Everything Will Be Okay” inspires. It’s a very bright spot in a great, but admittedly flawed game.
What do you think of Prey and “Everything Will Be Okay”? Is there another theme out there that you think manages to something similar, perhaps eve doing it better?
Lede image captured by Hatmonster