Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Prey (2006)

Go To

You may be looking for the 2017 game Prey, by Arkane Studios.
Earth's savior doesn't want the job.

In 1995, 3D Realms announced a First-Person Shooter called Prey, to be released in 1998, about Tommy, a troubled young Native American who is abducted by aliens, gets loose in their giant organic spaceship, and must tap into his spiritual powers to rescue his girlfriend. The big selling point of the game was portals; the ability to create rifts in space between any two points of a level (Sound familiar? We thought so).

The 1997 build impressed all and sundry, but there were technical problems with the game which ultimately forced the project back to the drawing board. Like 3D Realms' other highly-touted project, Duke Nukem Forever, it languished in Development Hell for ages. Eleven years after its initial announcement, Prey finally made its way onto shelves.

The game came out in 2006, with the story largely unchanged. It boasted top-of-the-line visual effects using a modified Doom 3 engine, and no fewer than four breakthroughs in gameplay. The first was the portal system, which was less interactive than the original concept promised, but nonetheless impressive. The other three were Wall Walking, whereby gravity walkways and gravity switches allowed the player to walk on walls and ceilings; Spirit Walking, in which the lead character's spirit can leave his body and sneak up on enemies, walk through force fields, etc.; and perhaps most original, Death Walking, where dying didn't set the player back, but rather sent him to a sort of mini-game afterlife where you shoot spiritual eagles to determine how much health and spirit you have when you rematerialise right back where you died.


The game was generally regarded as an enjoyable and groundbreaking game, although there were naysayers — some complained that the game was too short, others that it was too repetitive, others that its innovations were only window-dressing for an otherwise cookie-cutter FPS. Either way, it was neither the commercial success nor the industry-changing revolution that had been hoped for.

There was also a comic from the minds at Penny Arcade.

As a technical note, the portalling technology used to such great effect is actually a fairly old bit of behind-the-scenes level-building machinery. It normally goes completely unnoticed by the player, stitching separate areas of a game map (say, the inside and outside of a building) into a convincing whole. That it was only used as an explicit bit of mind-bending in a fistful of multiplayer maps until Prey came along is a mystery for the ages.


A sequel had been announced for release in 2012, was pushed back to 2013, then not brought up again until late 2014. The game's protagonist was to be Killian Samuels, an air marshal who was on a plane that happened to be abducted by the same exact light that takes Tommy. He was to wake up on an alien world named Exodus several years later, knowing that he somehow managed to become a bounty hunter during that period but has no other memories of that time. He would have convinced himself he was was the only human on Exodus... until he was to run into Tommy, who apparently knew him. The game was to feature an open world environment, and the ability to take on bounty hunting missions for cash. Unfortunately, in October 2014, Bethesda officially announced the project was cancelled. The series would ultimately get a reboot in 2017 by Arkane Studios, though outside of the basic premise of being trapped on an alien spaceship, it's effectively In Name Only.

This game provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: One of Tommy's most powerful guns uses big bugs as explosive ammo, similar to the one he's using as hand grenades. You can see them squirming around in the weapon's organic "magazine", occasionally glaring at you through the transparent membrane. The little critters appear to be quite versatile, considering the gun's primary fire is a very powerful missile launcher while its secondary mode creates a short-lived organic gel barrier in front of Tommy that blocks enemy fire for a couple seconds.
    Tommy: Huh. That'll make a mess.
  • Alien Geometries:
    • See that door you came through? Probably goes somewhere else — if it's there at all.
    • Portal wormholes are strictly 2-dimensional (look at them from the side and they disappear) and one-sided (look at them from behind and they disappear)
    • At one point, you get warned about a Spatial hazard — hallways that lead into hallways that lead into where you came from, and often show you from the side or behind as you traverse the hallways. You have to find out which leads where.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted. Until Talon translates, the aliens' language and writing is unintelligible. The Hidden on the other hand are an odd case — they're humans that have been abducted from Earth centuries ago, yet somehow speak perfect present-day English.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Sphere's minions don't negotiate, take no prisoners and aren't interested in any interaction with Tommy other than shooting/biting/slashing the crap out of him the moment he enters their line of sight. Same goes for the Spirit World's ghostly denizens, which means the best advice you can get is "if something moves, shoot it until it stops moving".
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • The game's machine gun — like all other weapons — is a technological-organic hybrid that Tommy encounters for the first time when a giant monster introduces him to the business end of not one, but two of them. You get it by hiding in a small side room and activating a force field when the beast reaches into it, cutting off its arm which is the gun. How Tommy fires the thing or how it continues to function without its host is anyone's guess.
    • The Borrowed Biometric Bypass Tommy acquires at one point is the severed, decomposing hand of a Hunter.
  • Angry Guard Dog: One of the hostile alien species appears to be the Sphere's equivalent to this concept — four-legged canine creatures taller than Tommy with no hair, bad temper and way too many teeth and claws. They often accompany Hunter squads but can also be found dozing on the floor quite frequently in areas they're supposedly guarding.
  • Animal Motifs: Everything related to the Cherokee has a strong bird motif going on, sometimes to the point of Sigil Spam. The stylized hawk on the box art — see the page image — can be found on nearly every door in the Spirit World, alongside huge bird statues, bird cave paintings and bird-decorated earthenware. Last but not least, Tommy's Cool Pet is a ghostly spirit hawk that goes wherever he goes, translates the alien language for him, shows him the way and distracts enemies in battle, not to mention its Heroic Sacrifice near the climax.
  • Anti-Hero: Tommy, through and through. He's repulsed by what the Sphere does to the humans it has abducted, but doesn't show any inclination to actively help them. The only persons he cares about are himself, Jen and Enisi, in that order.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Jen, chillingly, gut-wrenchingly so. Tommy also apologizes half-heartedly whenever he kills one of the terrified human abductees he occasionally comes across in the bowels of the Sphere.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Tommy, not believing in mythical powers, even after coming back from the dead repeatedly, going to the Cherokee afterlife, fighting ghosts caused by aliens, and getting abducted by aliens.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The game's depiction of Cherokee culture is largely accurate. However, in one of Tommy's spirit walks, he sees a vision of the Cherokee homeland, consisting of arid canyons of Oklahoma. However, the Cherokee people were forcibly moved there in the 18th century by the US government. Prior to that, they inhabited the river valleys of the Carolinas.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Enisi ends up in the Cherokee spirit world. Tommy visits and even fights there a couple times himself, usually to grab a nifty new upgrade for his otherworldly powers.
  • As Himself: "... and Art Bell as himself."
  • Attack Drone: Aside from all its cybernetic nasties, the Sphere also throws the occasional swarm of black robotic flyers against Tommy. The things are a real nuisance due to their fast, erratic movement and heavy firepower.
  • Badass Boast: Tommy drops an epic one when he finally confronts the Keeper.
    Tommy: I'm a warrior of the Cherokee Nation! Nobody owns me!
  • Badass Unintentional: Tommy more-or-less got forced into saving the world, and just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Jen and Elhuit — fairly modest in case of the former, all-out Stripperific when it comes to the latter.
  • Beam Spam: Due to Every Bullet is a Tracer when it comes to the Hunters' energy-based rapid-fire assault rifle. Face off against a bunch of them at once, ideally while wielding the same gun yourself, and try to get your bearings amidst the fireworks filling your entire screen.
  • BFG: Every gun is one. Even the most basic firearm is a bulky monstrosity on par with a medium machine gun in Real Life.
  • Blown Across the Room: The first boss does that to an unfortunate human in yet another Kick the Dog moment for the Sphere. Amazingly, the poor slob survives the Megaton Punch with nary a scratch, only to get turned into Ludicrous Gibs when Tommy and the duct he's in flatten him after having been torn off the ceiling.
  • Body Horror: What the Sphere does to the captured humans it can get its hands on sure isn't pretty; especially what it does to Jen, who gets her hands, lower arms and everything below the waist fused into the body of a cybernetic killing machine she can't control at all while it shoots and bites the crap out of Tommy.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Tommy carries around an alien hand to open some doors. It decomposes over the course of the game, with Tommy commenting on how bad it smells.
  • Boss Room: Huge room with lots of space to move around and no way out once you're in, but tons of ammo strewn about everywhere? Prepare for a big-ass health bar to pop up at the top of your screen any moment. Some boss fights are telegraphed even more obviously than that, especially the first one which involves a Controllable Helplessness cutscene.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: After the Final Boss has been defeated and asks Tommy why he did that, he replies that the Sphere had to be stopped from destroying any more civilizations. Its response is to point out that the Sphere itself is a civilization and destroying it would be no less of a crime, prompting Tommy to compare it to a parasite. You don't get to decide who's right: the game decides for you. Although taking into account all of the atrocities they commited and pain the Sphere has brought onto Tommy you can barely blame him for wanting revenge.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Well, not completely bottomless — most guns have a finite ammo pool — but they never need to be reloaded (if they even can be reloaded), so you can hold the firing button down until you run out and switch to another weapon.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Averted. The protagonist's grandfather is the only Native American in the entire game who dresses stereotypically, out of three major characters who are of that ethnicity. The protagonist has long hair, but he dresses normally and derides his grandfather for looking like a walking stereotype.
  • Bullfight Boss: At least two enemy types fall into this category. One is a miniboss of sorts, always comes in pairs, is frighteningly fast for its bulk and tries to brutalize Tommy with the huge organic scythe that replaces one of its arms. Evading it is reasonably easy, and once its scythe is jammed in the ground following a particular attack, it's basically a sitting duck. The other example is a proper late-game boss that's fought in a large empty room, so lots of space available to evade its charge. Problem is, that thing also wields two very powerful Leech Guns, and there's nothing at all to hide behind...
  • But Thou Must!: A minor case in the Wall Crawl gravity panels. If you need to activate some of them via a nearby switch, chances are some Hunters will portal in and turn the things off as soon as you're clinging to the ceiling. You can kill those Hunters before they hit the switch if you're fast enough, which results in the grav panels shutting off on their own anyway some moments later.
    • A minor one: In the bar at the beginning, you're forced to trigger the dialogue between the characters. If you wander around the bar instead, the characters say "Tommy, get back here." until you do.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Tommy can't bring himself to tell Jenny he loves her. At least, until just after he's forced to kill her.
  • Comic Relief: As grim, cynical and gory as the game may be, it thankfully comes up with a couple of more lighthearted moments.
    • The aliens' first contact with humanity comes in the form of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper." Makes it pretty obvious what the aliens are planning.
    • The game's equivalent of grenades is a species of three-legged, glowing-green crab thingies that scuttle around almost everywhere. "Arming" them (read, pulling the pin) consists of ripping their legs out. The fact alone that there's a type of ammo that actively tries to run away from you, forcing you to chase after them, is hilarious enough, but even better is the first time Tommy picks one up. He holds it in his hand, stares at it, the thing glowers back, Tommy utters a soundly disgusted "Nasty!" and pokes it with his index finger. The grenade crab promptly pinches the finger with one of its pincers.
    Tommy: Ow! What the...?
    • Many sections of the Sphere have consoles or similar tech tuned into a US-American late-night radio talkshow that continues to cover the alien abductions' visual clues back on Earth. The segments are pretty disturbing until suddenly the Keeper itself calls the host out of nowhere, delivering lots of Vagueness Is Coming in a creepy voice. Art Bell takes it in stride.
    • The section where Tommy encounters Jen's ripped-out-and-reassembled bar from the opening has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment with two hunters fiddling with the music player:
    Hunter: Turn it off!!
    [garbled sounds, then Living After Midnight kicks in]
    Hunter: Oooh! Yes! Yes!
  • Cool Old Guy: Grandpa Enisi, what with his infinite patience with his grandson's self-centered Arbitrary Skepticism, facing his death with incredible dignity and later not hesitating for a second to fight back against a freaking alien invasion of the afterlife. If he were any cooler, he'd pee ice cubes.
  • Cool Pet: Talon, Tommy's childhood pet now assisting his owner from beyond the grave as a spirit hawk. Regularly helping Tommy out by giving him hints as to where he should go and what he should interact with. He's also useful in combat by distracting and pestering enemies, so they won't focus and start shooting at you.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In the level "All Fall Down," there are the phrases (and a name) "I want to go home," "No one hears us," and "Francine" written in blood.
  • Creepy Child: The ghost children.
  • Creepy Children Singing: the aforementioned ghost children.
  • Crosshair Aware: Newly appeared enemies will often perform an immediate jump/boost to the side if you have your sights on them in that moment. The same is true for Hunters and most other ground troops whenever you try to snipe them, although that is justified due to the sniper rifle's highly visible targeting laser. Their weapons use the same laser, so you know that pain is headed your way, but contrary to them you can't sidestep or otherwise evade the shots except for quickly ducking behind something.
  • Damsel in Distress: Jen, from beginning to end.
  • Death as Game Mechanic: After a certain point in the game death no longer brings up a game over screen. Instead, Tommy enters the spirit realm and battles wraiths. Killing red ones increases the health you respawn with, the same for blue wraiths and mana. After a short time the player is thrown back into the land of the living.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: When you are killed, you are transported to the "Spirit World", as it isn't your time to die yet. You can compete in a little minigame of shooting down the aliens that possess the freaky ghost children to regain more health, but it's optional.
  • Death Seeker: A heavily, irreversibly mutated Jen pleads with Tommy to kill her.
  • Deflector Shields: Enisi briefly summons a magical one to fend off some heavy firepower when the Sphere launches an invasion of the Cherokee spirit world.
  • Degraded Boss: Pretty much every boss but the last one re-appears as a mook in some fashion, but the Keepers deserve special mention because they have got to have set some kind of record for this, as for the first part of the second to last level you face off against one of them, with a boss life bar and all (having been built up for most of the game as the The Dragon). And once you kill him, in the very next room the very next enemies you face off are a couple of them that are just as strong as the "boss" and have most of his attacks. With no boss bar or anything. Granted, they can't teleport mooks in like he can but that's about all they can't do.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The fleshy vertical slits in the walls which a particular enemy type jumps out of (is born from?) and often escapes into look suspiciously like a certain female body part.
  • The Dragon: After having been built up as the Big Bad for much of the game, the Keeper is eventually revealed to be nothing more than this to the Mother, and even that's subverted minutes later when Tommy enters the very next room and suddenly has to face off against scores of the things.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The boss creature Jen eventually becomes makes several short appearances in passing hours before Tommy eventually fights it, although with generic "pilots" instead. He freaks out big time every time he spots one.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Tommy receives a massive health upgrade for the final act, plus the last upgrade of sorts for his Swiss-Army Gun that turns the thing into a ludicrously powerful Wave-Motion Gun.
  • Emergency Weapon: The first real weapon you get is the aliens' standard-issue energy rifle, which still feeds from an ammunition pool, but gradually regenerates up to a third of the total pool when completely expended. You also have a wrench.
  • Eternal Engine: The entire Sphere, which traverses the universe for some unknowable reason.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Given how the Sphere is as much a titanic organism as it is a spaceship, its professional troops aren't the only threat Tommy has to contend with. Everything down to the very walls can pile the hurt on him, not to mention he can end up shooting himself if he doesn't pay close attention to what that armed humanoid on the other side of that portal actually is.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Not precisely a how this trope goes, but close enough — a pack of wolves starts howling just outside Jen's bar shortly before the protagonists (and the whole bar alongside them) are abducted by aliens. Both Jen and Enisi point out that something bad must've startled the animals into raising such a ruckus.
  • Evil Laugh: The Sphere has a great one, which she lets out regularly during her boss figth.
  • Expository Gameplay Limitation: At several points in the game featuring heavy exposition, Tommy's weapons are disabled, preventing him from attacking.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Since the game doesn't feature a single Time Skip or similar plot device, everything that's happening does so in the time you need to play through the story; that is, about eight hours on average. The Playable Epilogue takes places six months later, but this segment is barely two minutes long and doesn't deliver more than some minor exposition on the aftermath, plus the now-infamous Sequel Hook.
  • Eye Scream: When you get the basic energy rifle, you'll sometimes see a three-pronged tentacle of sorts snake around as an Idle Animation. Press the secondary attack button, and it jumps towards your eye with prongs open as if to gouge Tommy's eyeball out. Subverted in that it's a perfectly harmless scope, still very much creepy.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Multiple examples — first Enisi, then Jen and eventually Tommy himself, though that last one doesn't stick. Again.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Somehow, nobody on Earth except for a bunch of Conspiracy Theorists seems to notice the moon-sized Planet Looters spaceship with a blue dwarf star as its center that suddenly appeared in our orbit and is now busily beaming up people, houses and airliners in mid-flight, and apparently even whole settlements in just a couple hours.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Predictably, Tommy's attempts to escape and/or save Jen don't work out that well.
  • Flat Character: Despite of the game's original story and setting, it doesn't make much of an effort to extend that strength to its cast. Tommy served in the Army and wants to elope with Jen because he hates living in the reservation. Jen owns a bar and doesn't see eye to eye with her boyfriend about the reservation topic. Enisi is Tommy's wise old grandpa. And that's about it. It's telling that even the Big Bad gets slightly more characterization than the protagonists.
  • Flunky Boss: The Keeper portals in several waves of very powerful enemies including any and all bosses Tommy has fought by that point before it finally takes to the battlefield itself.
  • Forced to Watch: What's left of Jen after she's been fused with a cybernetic monster can only watch and scream in terror while the thing she has become tries its damndest to kill Tommy.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The Mother, a human woman that was abducted from Earth millennia ago and eventually replaced the Sphere's then-master, is more or less naked and has her ample, well-shaped rack on full display. It's still far away from being Fanservice thanks to the Body Horror involved.
  • Game Within a Game: Tommy occasionally comes across gaming machines the Sphere brought aboard as bycatch. Most of them are still fully functional and can be used to play various card games and such, although there's no benefit in doing so aside from taking a break from the horrors that surround Tommy in all directions.
  • Gas Leak Cover-Up: The (very brief) Playable Epilogue reveals that the events surrounding the Sphere and the destruction left in its wake are chalked up to a freak solar flare that spawned some particularly nasty storms planetside — however that's supposed to work. It's also mentioned that the US government keeps a very low profile on the matter, suggesting they're at least partially aware of what really happened.
  • Gatling Good: The game's machine gun equivalent fits the trope, holds a lot of ammo, is pleasantly accurate and boasts a powerful organic grenade launcher as its Secondary Fire. What keeps it from drifting into Game-Breaker territory is its tendency to overheat under sustained fire. Oh, and the Giant Mook you get it from has a pair attached to each arm.
  • Giant Mook: The very first boss Tommy faces is a 20-foot bipedal monster that dual-wields gatling guns. Its species makes several reappearances later on as one of the many Degraded Bosses, boasting somewhat less health but having lost none of its firepower.
  • A God Am I: It turns out the Sphere's "pilot"/leader, a woman who fought her way to the previous leader, was taken in by the power the sphere possessed, becoming the new ruler — and all-around asshole. In the end, Tommy gets dangerously close to this; only his grandfather stops him and reminds him of his loved ones.
  • Gorn: Everywhere you look. Humans are being impaled, exploded, gibbed, torn apart and ground into paste left, right and center. The results are then circulated throughout the Sphere in huge, pulsating pipes that go marvelously with the place's semiorganic, gore-soaked interior. You can return the favor by turning everything hostile into Ludicrous Gibs yourself with copious applications of More Dakka or Stuff Blowing Up.
  • Gravity Screw: Big time. It's not uncommon to have firefights with enemies standing on walls or the ceiling, and one puzzle requires shifting the gravity around a lot. The latter can even get Tommy hurling his meal out.
  • Hands-Free Handlamp: Tommy's never shown actually holding his zippo, and it doesn't matter if both his hands are busy with alien-made death hardware.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: Enisi serves this role by delivering some very vague yet — in hindsight — disturbingly prescient warnings to Tommy. Of course he gets brushed off as an old superstitious fool by his grandson.
  • Healing Factor/Regenerating Health: When Tommy's physical health goes critical (i.e. red streaks appear at the edges of your screen), he will automatically recover just enough health to get out of the critical zone after about five seconds, and if he isn't being hit.
  • Heroic Mime: Averted completely. Tommy is pretty talkative.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Talon sacrifices himself to clear the path to the Final Boss for Tommy.
    • The ending is a subversion. Tommy takes control of the Sphere and flies it into the sun, destroying it forever. He awakens in the Land of the Ancients and meets Enisi and Jen — but they explain that his time has not come yet, and he returns home.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted quite sickeningly. Children are mutilated, torn apart, and slain — one of the first atrocities you'll see is a child being possessed and tearing apart and impaling their sibling, and you're forced to fight a few, albeit that they're ghosts. In fact, those were added at a late stage in development; previews as little as six months before the game's release showed full-fledged, flesh and blood possessed children instead of ghosts coming at the player to rip him apart.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Tommy and the aliens deploy the exact same weapons including their secondary firing modes against each other, so this trope comes into play on both sides of the conflict.
  • Hold the Line: One mission segment has Tommy fend off endless hostile reinforcements until a portal opens through which he can escape.
  • Human Aliens: Both the Hidden and Mother are revealed to be this.
  • Human Resources: We're being used as a food source. Translated alien alerts say "rogue protein detected" and encourage Tommy to turn himself in for a painless "processing". If a conversation between Art Bell and an alien researcher is to be believed, we're one of the many planets aliens have seeded to use as a food source between long slower-than-light trips between galaxies.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Okay, it's easy to accept him carrying a lighter and a wrench, but where is he hiding the other four guns?
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: The Mother is actually "training" Tommy to take over as the Sphere's controller from her, since she's centuries old and tired of life. This involves making Tommy kill his horribly-mutated girlfriend.
  • Idiot Ball: SuuuUURREEE Tommy, go ahead and pooh-pooh your Grandfather's demand that you train and prepare to go off running for Jen in spite of the fact that Granddad has apparently ascended to a higher power and can see the situation better than you can. Let's see how THAT will work out.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Sphere is visiting Earth mainly to abduct people for conversion into protein food (via the nightmarish "juicer machines") or into horrible cyborg slaves. It's implied that other species from other planets serve different purposes (Hunters are soldiers, Harvesters are... harvesters). It's also managed to pick up a few parasites along the way: strange floating gasbag creatures that spit acid (likely coming from the same place as the insect-grenades; they look similar).
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How one of the two first ghost children comes into existence, courtesy of their sibling no less. And then there's the juicer machines mentioned above that impale the victim with about a dozen huge spikes for no apparent reason, then ram a head-sized blunt tube into their still-living upper body and get to work. We don't get to see what happens past this point, but the noises are more than enough Nausea Fuel already.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Hunters have the strange trait of becoming better shots the farther away their target is. At close range, Tommy can evade most damage by simply circle-strafing them, but past a certain distance they switch their rifles to sniper mode, which means they will almost never miss him no matter what he does (aside from running for cover, but good luck with countersniping when half a dozen Hunters are just waiting for him to stick his head out). Gets especially jarring in shuttle segments where Hunters can snipe Tommy across the entire level with pinpoint accuracy while he can't even see them.
  • In Name Only: Prey 2 was initially announced to be this, much to the disappointment of many fans. In response, the plot was retooled some to feature Tommy (who was slated to have only cameo roles) more.
    • Since Prey 2 was axed in Development Hell in favor of Prey (2017), this trope is back in full force — none of the characters or story events of the original Prey will show up in the reboot.
  • Industrialized Evil: The Sphere, it's inner workings are filled to the brim with gut-wrenching machines that turn humans into food or worse.
  • Industrial World: The game takes place in a planet-sized Eternal Engine. The aliens live in a giant artificial sphere in which every room, corridor and passage is strewn with wires, pipes and machinery of all sorts (not always inoffensive). Of course, since the sphere also has a biological component, parts of it also take place in a Organic Technology version of this.
  • Interface Screw: The aforementioned red streaks that appear when Tommy's health goes critical or he gets hit in melee, as well as whenever the Mother communicates telepathically with him.
  • Interface Spoiler: Neatly averted. The interface shows you up-front how many different weapons you'll have, but once you get the last one, you're still to get the game's BFG...
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The first time you fight the ghost children, it's announced by a creepy bedtime tune.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Everything hostile that can talk will, without pause. This mainly restricts the choice to Hunters and the Sphere itself, but neither of those wastes any opportunity to rub in just how out of his depth Tommy is. Or so they think at least...
  • Kill 'Em All: Tommy's stated intention after he was forced to fight and Mercy Kill Jen.
  • La Résistance: Tommy isn't the only Spanner in the Works aboard the Sphere. The Hidden have been resisting it for centuries already, and their support proves crucial to his further progress several times.
  • Left the Background Music On: The aliens herald their presence by making the jukebox play "Don't Fear the Reaper" — either an insane coincidence, or some alien has a sick sense of humor.
  • Leno Device: Art Bell on Coast to Coast AM.
  • Living Gasbag: Strange floating gas-bag creatures that spit acid live inside of The Sphere. There are also the fat spectral... things that cause the ghost children.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Both the Hunter shuttles and the black robotic attack drones are armed with rapid-fire cannons that can unleash huge volumes of projectiles in short order. The drones' even home in on their target, and since especially the latter always show up at least in pairs, be prepared to get blasted with micro-missiles from all directions. The Mother herself is also very fond of saturating the battlefield with MMMs.
  • Magical Native American: But of course. Tommy is able to Astrally Project himself to solve puzzles and sneak-attack enemies, and killing evil ghosts in the land of the dead dictates how much health and magic he respawns with.
  • Mana Meter: Actually spiritual-arrow-meter-refilled-with-the-souls-of-your-slain-enemies, but...
  • Mercy Kill: The only thing Tommy can do for Jen. She actually begs him to do it.
  • Mind Rape: The Keeper telepathically floods Tommy's mind with horrific images during its Expospeak. How the Sphere communicates with Tommy arguably counts as well since it appears to be extremely unpleasant for the recipient.
  • Minimalist Cast: The story revolves around Domasi "Tommy" Tawodi, his girlfriend Jen, his grandfather Enisi, the Priestess Elhuit and the (mostly) disembodied voice of the Sphere.
  • Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: The Mother.
  • My Brain Is Big: The Keeper is a strange creature with a ridiculously frail body, two oversized spindly limbs and a small head with a really huge brain curving out of it. True to form, the beast is a massively powerful telekinetic that uses its powers for levitation, temporarily shielding itself from all damage, and throwing heavy objects at Tommy like they were a child's toys.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Tommy's reaction to (accidentally?) reactivating the juicer.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Enisi calls the alien invaders "the Dark Ones", and they certainly live up to the notion. That the Keeper itself refers to what the Sphere's doing as "the Dark Harvest" — on live radio no less — just makes it all the worse.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Upon being released from the alien's Juicer machine, you come across a switch beneath an observation window for the machine you just escaped from. Pressing the button means the machine resumes its grisly work with no way of stopping it. Congratulations, you're killing a human every few seconds! For the rest of the game!
      • Somewhat averted in that you end up driving the Sphere into the Sun and presumably killing everything aboard it that doesn't get off, which means that it in all probability makes no difference as those you saved by not pressing the button die anyway from a closeup with the Solar System's massive resident fusion reactor.
      • The way that machine kills them looks really painful. Driving the thing into the sun might actually be better for everyone. Emphasis on "might".
    • A Create Your Own Villain variant of this occurs in the ghost children. Whenever you encounter them, they are usually accompanied by translucent white versions of the wraiths you shoot down during the minigame you play whenever you die. During your first encounter with them, Mother remarks that they weren't present on the ship until after you return from your first visit to the spirit world and gain the ability to Spirit Walk, implying that the player's tampering in the spirit world is causing people on the ship to be turned into violent ghosts.
    • The Sphere explicitly tells Tommy that his actions demonstrated how much of a nuisance the Hidden had become by then, so it decides to take action and thanks him afterwards for having brought the matter to its attention.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Mother repeatedly shows you how easily she could kill you if she wanted and how helpless you are. At one point, she tells you where Jen is, at the top of the tower you are in. A tower 200 km tall. She even shows you a map. You fight through an incredibly long level with multiple vehicle sequences, and then you get to a new map room, with the "you are here" arrow barely moved (actually in a 1:1 ratio with your actual movement in the game, which was significant but only a km or so up). The Mother then opens a portal for you to the top. At a later point, you encounter a room with dozens of Keepers, each of which is as strong as a boss, and she kills them for you. It's revealed that the entire game was a secret test to find her replacement.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot — You're playing a Magical Native American fighting biotechnological aliens, ghosts and cyborgs.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Arguably averted with Jen. Although she clearly wears a bra underneath her sleeveless Bare Your Midriff top, it really does look like her nipples are still peeking through the cloth.
  • Nuclear Candle: Tommy's Zippo. It's not as strong as some other examples, but it still gives off much more light than a real lighter.
  • One-Man Army: Par for the course for the genre. That Sphere really shouldn't have abducted Tommy, and especially not his girlfriend...
  • Organic Technology: The aliens use guns, vehicles, computers and even doors that are actually cybernetically-enhanced organisms or vat-grown critters, and not only do they look the part but they act like it. Exhibit number one: the main rifle Tommy uses, the one with all the membranes and claws sticking out of it, has an alt-fire that works like a sniper rifle. The scope is a little tentacle that launches out of the gun and latches on to his eyeball.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: They have only one side and are completely 2-dimensional, and have zero internal length. The aliens do some pretty weird things with them: they can appear anywhere, they use them in a sort of "shrinking" experiment early in the game, they put them in boxes or small doorways (i.e you step into the box and emerge in a large room); they also have things called "shifting stations": you go in, close the door, wait for a bit, and when you open it again, you're somewhere else. At one point, you witness them teleporting a whole passenger airliner out of the air and crashing it onto the Sphere for protein (read: people) harvesting.
    • There are also suggestions that the aliens can create Pocket Dimensions. The final battle takes place in one, and there's also a sequence where, as you are heading towards a region of complete darkness, entire rooms are assembled around you.
    • Apparently, portal overuse can create "spatial anomalies" where one can spend a whole day chasing after themselves.
  • Planet Spaceship: The Sphere is at least the size of a moon. The Spire, one of its central structures, is explicitly stated to be many hundreds of miles tall, and that might just be the tip of the iceberg because judging by the menu artwork, the Sphere appears to be some sort of Dyson Sphere with a blazing blue core and a much larger, organic-looking outer shell.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Tommy, during his first moments aboard the Sphere.
    Tommy: Oh... My... God!
  • Puzzle Boss: Most bosses count, if not all of them. Some are Type 1, others Type 2. The Final Boss actually has you riddle your way through three separate and very different stages.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Sphere's attack drones — black chassis, many red eyes, insectoid design, hunt down any threat to their overlord with extreme prejudice.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Tommy fights his way out of the Land of the Dead and respawns where he died.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The grenade crabs, as well as their cousins inside of Tommy's late-game bug cannon.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: When Tommy uses a shuttle, he doesn't actually board it — it gets flash-forged around him in less than a second with him already in the pilot seat and his hand on the controls. An even more awesome, though much rarer example are certain level segments during which the world itself is being assembled around Tommy in real-time while he's pressing on.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: What Tommy's on after he, Jen and Enisi have been abducted by the Sphere and he's the only one with the means to fight back.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: What Tommy's on after Enisi and Jen have been killed by the Sphere.
  • Schmuck Bait: Some of the portals are set up in such a way that you can end up shooting yourself if you have an itchy trigger finger.
  • Sequel Hook: Where do we start? The unresolved plotline regarding evil ghosts invading the mortal realm? Talon's fate? Or that "six months later" stinger where the priestess Elhuit invites you to meet some "powerful beings". The game was obviously conceived as part of a series, it's just that due to legal problems, Zenimax bought the game rights. A sequel was planned and they even made a teaser trailer for it, but it was ultimately discarded in favor of an entirely new, totally unconnected game.
  • Shown Their Work: The development team did extensive research on Cherokee culture, and both Tommy and Jen were voiced by Cree actors. Michael Greyeyes, who voiced Tommy, expressed his gratitude that Tommy managed to avoid most Native American stereotypes.
  • Shouting Shooter: Unlike his enemies, Tommy doesn't care much for taunting while he kills — until he is forced to fight and kill his girlfriend. The following battles have him screaming and raving at the top of his lungs while he slaughters the Sphere's minions in droves with an awesomely noisy Wave-Motion Gun.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Tommy drops F-Bombs like they're going out of style. Jen's no slouch in that department either, though not nearly as bad as him.
  • Space Mines: A recurring hazard in just about every shuttle segment. They're huge and very fragile, so spotting and clearing them is no problem at all, but they have a nasty habit of reforming out of nowhere after a few seconds. Avoid them as much as possible.
  • Spirit Advisor: Your grandfather, and, to a lesser extent, Talon, your spirit guide hawk.
  • Spiritual Successor: Can be considered one to the Turok series, with a Native American protagonist, and portals and inter-dimensional travel being part of the plot.
  • Standard FPS Guns: With an Organic Technology twist. Also stays novel through some very interesting Secondary Fire modes.
  • Stripperific: Elhuit wears a lot more jewelry than actual clothing. The only pieces of cloth on her body are a very skimpy loincloth and the ones that cover her breasts. Everything else is more or less bare skin. Not that anyone's complaining.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Tommy with his weapons and Native American shaman powers.
  • Swiss-Army Gun: The Leech Gun is so named because it can leech ammo from charging nodes scattered throughout the ship, with the differently-colored nodes bestowing various effects on the weapon.
  • Tag Line: We are next.
  • Take That!: When Tommy enters an incredibly dark area, he quips that he feels like he's... doomed.note  Although this line becomes ironic when one remembers that Prey is running off of the same engine that powered Doom 3 (id Tech 4).
  • Telepathic Spacemen: the Keepers are capable of making impenetrable shields around themselves, hurling heavy objects or energy balls around, and create portals at will. It helps that their brains are more than two meters long. The Mother as well, although she was originally human.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Green beams that levitate people before teleporting them. A large chunk of Jen's bar is taken in this way as are the main characters. Later an entire passenger plane is teleported into the ship.
  • Teleport Spam: Or rather, Portal Spam. Hunters and later Harvesters can and will appear out of thin air, anywhere, at any time, for the entirety of the game. If Tommy just did something halfway important like hitting a switch and/or advancing a couple steps past it, chances are good the next Hunter squad will be all over him within seconds, and from oftentimes unexpected angles to boot. Even worse are the Keepers which can open portals at will and make liberal use of this ability to quickly move around the battlefield.
  • Tractor Beam: The shuttle has one. You need it to clear the path ahead of obstacles a few times, but it's also quite useful for immobilizing the annoyingly agile drones while you blow them up with your mounted guns. And let's not forget about the entertainment value of snatching up hostile ground forces and tossing them into the next Bottomless Pit.
  • Tragic Monster: Jen.
    • The Mother AKA the Sphere's sentience probably counts as well, given that she was originally a human who escaped and fought the Keepers until she reached the core and took over from the original Sphere's sentience, who was weary of life. She's grown weary as well, and plans to have Tommy replace her... of course, she's a misanthropic asshole, so What did you expect?
  • Unexplained Recovery: When we last see her after the Mother's assault on the Hidden refuge, Elhuit appears to succumb to her wounds immediately after finishing her speech. She then shows up again in the epilogue, literally out of nowhere and fresh as a daisy.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • You can reactivate a juicer machine you just escaped from if you're dumb or sadistic enough to press the huge button in front of the observation window. Doing so will gruesomely kill a terrified human every couple seconds for no gain at all as far as the game is concerned.
    • Tommy occasionally comes across other human abductees who're cowering in the dark, clad in nothing but their briefs and scared out of their minds. The only thing you can do for/to them is a Mercy Kill, again without any gain on your behalf. Tommy's apologizing afterwards somehow leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
    • The game's shotgun shoots acid instead of pellets. Think about that for a moment, and keep in mind you're totally free to deliver various Mercy Kills in such a horrendously agonizing way, the woman your Player Character loves included.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Switch gravity around a few times in quick succession and Tommy will complain that he's about to get sick. Do it a couple more times and you'll be treated to the lovely sight of your Player Character emptying his stomach — from his perspective, in free-fall.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The final type of charging node for the Leech Gun lets the thing shoot a fat, continuous whitish beam that obstructs much of the screen with its awesome massiveness. It also has such enormous recoil that you're practically forced to keep the "move forward" button pressed lest your advance turns into an involuntary backwards retreat. Running and shooting simultaneously slows Tommy down to a crawl. The upside? It's insanely powerful and will vaporize anything below boss level in moments. You'll need that sort of firepower by the point you acquire it.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: One particular enemy type consists of a mostly organic upper body mounted on a quadrupedal robotic chassis. Dealing critical damage to the beast results in the mechanical section exploding and the organic part attempting to escape into the nearest wall vagina thingy. If Tommy doesn't kill it before it escapes, it will jump out with a new lower body seconds later. Thankfully, its overall health doesn't reset, so a couple more shots to the torso are usually enough to finish it off for good.
  • Wham Line: "Tommy? I can't feel my legs..."
  • What Might Have Been: The developers intended to base the game on a mechanic where the player could create their own Portal Network, but found the hardware lacking, leaving that for others to succeed at the following year.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Many, MANY children were harmednote  in the making of this game.
  • Worthy Opponent: Implied. As Tommy advances through the Sphere murdering them left and right, the Hunters go from calling him simply "Human", to "Soldier" and finally "Warrior". This is the reason why the Sphere wants him as a replacement.
  • Wrench Whack: Tommy's first and only melee weapon (and his first weapon at all) is a good ol' wrench he picks up in Jen's bar when she chides him for leaving his dirty tools on her clean counter. He quickly puts it to use on two drunk rednecks. It then continues to prove moderately effective after the abduction but is quickly relegated to an absolute Emergency Weapon once firearms become available.