REVIEW : Mr. Prepper (XBOX Series X)
Your character has just been returned home by federal officials representing the all-powerful government in an alternate history timeline. You’re left alone in your house with nothing but your pension and your ingenuity to build a bunker that will eventually lead you to outwit the powers that be. Mr. Prepper is precisely what his name suggests. You’re a resourceful, bunker-building, cunning man who refuses to be told what to do by the authorities.
This game was developed by Rejected Games and released by PlayWay S.A./Rejected Games, both of which are based in Poland. While there isn’t much outside of Steam on Rejected Games, eagle-eyed readers will know PlayWay as the polish co-publisher of House Flipper, the once-favorite of all home remodelling games. I include the publisher’s location because the game is most likely aimed at a western audience and contains a lot of political criticism. Regardless of your political beliefs, you’re wasting your money in a satirical tone and a comedic environment. You’ve been told to stay put after a failed effort to from your constraints, but that won’t stop a free-thinker like you.
Mr. Prepper is a man who lives in a country that was previously known as the Land of the Free, but that has all changed thanks to its new administration. Otherwise, the secretive and all-powerful Agency will be interested in you. Obey, stay in your lane, and love the President. Mr. Prepper has resolved to defy this and break free from his life’s fantasy. The only option for him to conceal his plans and actions is to develop an underground refuge and a contraption that will assist him in escaping. But he’ll need materials, time, and secrecy to do it. Assist him in succeeding and upsetting the existing quo.
You’ll start with a simple house that’s mostly empty. It’s only enough to get you started. You can sell, break down, and buy more resources through your mailbox, where a friendly mailman will provide some background information about the globe. Each day follows a predictable pattern, with each work taking a specific amount of time. You’ll become fatigued, hungry, and a general preparation score to keep track of your days and chances of survival. While still feeding yourself and resting, you’ll break down resources, hunt a forest for food, and dig holes in your floor to construct your ideal bunker. You’ll improve a workbench to learn more sophisticated and valuable recipes, as with typical advancement systems in these games. It’s a unique situation.
My biggest critique of this game is how tough it is to play with a controller, not the game concept or the difficulty curve. While my copy played smoothly on the Xbox Series X|S consoles, I was always disappointed by the lack of a mouse. The user interface is complex, with numerous items to highlight and even more to grasp in the world. The problem was more than just learning a new control method. I was unable to develop the muscle memory required to quickly disassemble goods. Even though I was playing on the least setting and never felt in danger of losing, I still felt a sense of urgency to make every second count, which was irritating when I couldn’t communicate.
A tutorial is available at the start of the campaign mode, although it isn’t very helpful. Occasionally, multiple windows would be open, and the wording instructing me on what to select would obscure my goal. When I went into creative mode and took all the time I needed to go against the system, I learned the most. To be fair, this was a pre-release build, so these issues could be resolved. However, I don’t anticipate the 1.0 patch introducing a whole new user interface and control system.
The painting is basic and fun to look at. I particularly like the backdrop, in which authoritarian democracy has gone awry and the average guy is left to fend for himself. It’s a clever notion, and the fact that it’s heavy-handed makes it funny rather than unpleasant. Similarly, the sound effects and artwork were adequate, and I enjoyed visually looking around the environment to find what little nuances the posters and artwork contained. I especially appreciated the “Here, There, Anywhere” street sign near my door, which was used for quick transit. I got the impression that the developer had a good time building it and didn’t take himself too seriously. Mr. Prepper is a fun but frustrating game with a lot of mechanisms and plates to keep spinning. Breaking the surface can be difficult. Fortunately, as difficult as it can be at times, the benefits and satisfaction of having outsmarted the government outweigh the drawbacks. I had a good time with it and will put it on my to-do list. It’s a shame, too, that the controls weren’t more streamlined. I spent much too much time trying to find out how to tell the game what I wanted to do.