Prey is the latest movie in the Predator series, and it might just be as good as the original. No seriously. The franchise has been notoriously hit-or-miss since the 1978 sci-fi action flick hit the big screen, with no lead to match the massive muscle boots Arnie left behind. Prey changes that.
Instead of following a group of grizzled US Army veterans with their flamethrowers, machine guns and the power of all their military technology, Prey is set in the early 18th century and the Predator’s adversaries are Native American hunters. They have far more primitive weapons – bows and arrows and throwing axes – than Arnie & co., but just as much skill and ingenuity. There are great performances all around, but the simple premise of putting a Predator in a different time frame is incredibly effective in revitalizing a tired streak. However, this has already been done, and by a video game with the exact same name.
“You are wrong!” I hear you scream. “You are wrong, Ben Sledge, editor at The Gamer [sic] and I’m going to tell you how wrong you are in the most abusive way possible!” There is fervent joy in spreading abuse on the internet, but quit, dear reader, because I am actually right.
You see, I’m not talking about the cult hit Prey (2017) developed by Arkane Austin and published by Bethesda Softworks. No, I’m talking about Prey (2006), developed by Human Head Studios, which Bethesda bought the rights to and Arkane turned into a different beast in everything but name. For ease of understanding, in the future I will call the games Prey and Prey (Arkane). Guess I’ll call the movie Prey The Movie or something. Not confusing at all. We really need new names for things.
Unlike Prey (Arkane) – who was, again, inspired by the 2006 game in the title alone – Prey saw a Native American family abducted by an alien spacecraft, and you (Domasi ‘Tommy’ Tawodi) must clear a path. There’s also a bunch of stuff about separating your mind from your body to go through gates and come back to life and all, but the basic premise is eerily similar to the 2022 Predator movie of the same name. There are differences, Tommy is Cherokee whereas Naru is Comanche, the game is set in modern times rather than the 18th century, and Tommy fights hundreds of aliens on his own spaceship rather than fighting a fighter xenos on Earth. But for a film with the exactly the same title as a game released 18 years ago, there are a surprising number of parallels.
Pitching a Native American character against aliens isn’t so unique that I accuse the movie of plagiarism or something. Both Tommy and Naru using the alien’s weapons against them is also the natural course of such a closeness. But the fact that they have the same title puts the icing on the cake.
I’m sure it’s one of those weird coincidences, and it’s quite likely the filmmakers weren’t even aware of the 00s game (which seems more Alien-inspired than Predator anyway) , but a quick Google of their potential title probably would have yielded a result that was unmistakably similar to their potential movie. Also, at this point, this search likely only shows results for Arkane’s decidedly non-Native American game of the same title, though that may not have been the case when the film was pitched to producers in 2016. , before Arkane’s sci-fi shooter was released.
I haven’t played it, but Prey looks like a pretty good game for something that came out in 2006. It had Portal forward portals – yes, shooting, teleporting, back portals – and a variety of tech aliens to take pieces of your otherworldly enemies with. Judging solely by when it came out, it may not have the authentic portrayal of Native American life or the nuanced questioning of masculinity and hunter/prey dynamics that the film does, but if you liked the movie, surely it’s worth it? If it’s awful, you can always watch the film again, fully dubbed in Comanche this time around.
Next: Dragon Age: Origins Made Me Rethink My Stance On Remakes