Reviews - Updated on April 3, 2022

In the genre of dystopia, the confrontation between the state and the loner has always been one of the central themes: it is interesting to follow the adventures of a few daredevils who dared to challenge the dictatorship. The main thing is that all these charms of totalitarian political regimes, such as censorship, brainwashing, surveillance of citizens, closing borders and persecution of dissidents, continue to remain only on book pages and movie screens – I suspect in real life you feel like a hero of “1984” or watch the burning of books The squares are not fun at all.

Do not bypass this topic and video games. Mr. Prepper from the Polish studio Rejected Games, which appeared on Steam in mid-March, talks about another fighter with the system. No, you won’t have to lead the people to the barricades and make a revolution – the developers approached the matter in a much more original way. Before us is nothing less than a simulator of a survivalist who is hiding from government agents in a self-built underground bunker and wants to quickly escape to hell on a rocket of his own making.

Don’t try to leave Omsk

In the far from the most rosy reality of the game, what Bradbury and Orwell wrote about happened: the once prosperous country (in which the United States is easily guessed) turned into an authoritarian state classic for dystopias. Any dissent is suppressed, residents must praise the great President and cannot leave their place of residence, and a powerful secret service monitors compliance with strict laws.

Our main character with a simple nickname that gave the game its name (in Russian translation – Mister Prepper), this alignment is clearly not to his liking. He had already tried to escape from the city, but was caught at the border. Now a special supervision is established behind him: the car is confiscated, and a special agent visits the unfortunate fugitive every week and checks the dwelling for prohibited items.

Mr. Prepper: Обзор

Daily visits to the mine quickly get boring, but it is unlikely that you will be able to get rich without working on the extraction of minerals.

As you understand, for the Prepper, even such obstacles will become only a temporary obstacle on the way to freedom – with the help of the mysterious stranger Minuteman, he must find a way to leave his hometown with the speaking name Merikosvil, even if for this he has to build an entire underground shelter under the house, and by means of a vehicle become a space rocket.

In the synopsis, we were promised the atmosphere of an approaching nuclear war, but, to be honest, nothing like me in Mr. Prepper never found it. With the exception of the splash screen in the main menu and the final scene, there is nothing remotely hinting at atomic hysteria here. The plot primarily rests on ridiculing a dystopian authoritarian society, with which the scriptwriters did a good job – the humor here is peculiar, but well-aimed.

My home is my castle

“Survival” as a genre implies an eternal shortage of resources and an eternal race to replenish them. It is not surprising that in a game with such a name, the main occupation of the protagonist is the search for those same resources: from food and tools to building materials and items for sale. If you eat little and sleep poorly, then the sad end is not far off, and a workbench and a couple of boards should start the construction of a huge rocket.

The implementation of such a bold project is a complex and costly business. At home, as we remember, it is impossible to store not only the details of such an exotic and undoubtedly forbidden vehicle, but even objects that are quite harmless at first glance, if they are not included in the list of permitted by the agency or exceed a strictly established quantitative limit.

You have to build a real underground bunker under your house, just like the true “survivors” – with an electricity generator, greenhouses, racks and boxes for supplies, a melting furnace, a freezer and other mandatory attributes of a lone rebel shelter.

Mr. Prepper: Обзор

I had such a bunker, but in fact you can get by with a more modest one.

The gameplay is not limited to construction alone. On the contrary, the Prepper spends much more time traveling around the city and its environs. The extraction of resources forces him to hunt and gather, work in a mine and travel through the desert by car. Some materials and items can be bought from neighbors and acquaintances (who become more and more as you progress), others can be created using a workbench, and greenhouses and earthen beds allow you to provide yourself with fresh food.

You’ll have to run around a lot: there are not many levels available for research, but they are quite diverse. Each location serves as a source of resources and allows you to progress through the story: if at first only your own house and a nearby forest are available, then by the end of the passage you will even be able to visit an abandoned secret base.

The clock is ticking

The world also does not stand still – time plays a significant role here. Every day you have to go to bed before three in the morning, otherwise our hero runs the risk of fainting, in which he will spend several hours, or even days. In addition, constantly decreasing indicators of satiety and vigor require paying attention to food intake and sleep (however, you can stuff the Prepper with energy drinks).

It is necessary to follow not only the clock, but also the calendar. Firstly, an agent visits our house once a week – you need to prepare for his visit: remove or disguise all the “forbidden”, and you yourself need to be at home at that moment, and not hang around in a bunker or walk around the city. Fail the check (which is gradually getting stricter: they even monitor the consumption of water and electricity) – the Prepper will be arrested, and the game will end.

Mr. Prepper: Обзор

There is no way without trade – otherwise, it would take too long to accumulate some resources for crafting useful items and the rocket itself.

Secondly, the diary notes events that take place in the city from time to time. Either the postman will disappear (it will not be possible to trade directly from home), then the water supply will be turned off or the electricity will be cut off. Such force majeure must be taken into account – it’s a shame to lose an almost sprouted crop due to the extinguished lamps in the bunker or to be left without lunch without taking care of the supply of water for soup.

Fortunately, the developers did not use the suggestive trick with a time limit for building a rocket. No one is pushing us, scaring us with an imminent loss or gradually complicating the gameplay. A Steam achievement called The Orginal Prepper (survive a whole year of game time) hints that you can take your time. There is, however, another “achievement”, a kind of challenge for speedrunners: to have time to assemble a rocket in just a month.

Grind Almighty

Unfortunately, anyone who gets to the middle of the game will want to envy the few owners of this achievement. There are reasons for this, and the most important of them is the dragging out of the gameplay through the opacity of long-term planning and inappropriate grinding.

If you want to not just sit in a cozy bunker, but move along the story, get ready for tasks like collecting fifty units of a rare and expensive resource, which is also used to create devices necessary for comfortable survival. If the campaign is repeated, then the prospect of completing such tasks is not scary – you already know what to expect and plan all expenses ahead of time.

But during the first passage, no one is immune from very offensive miscalculations, such as spending all the plastic on creating some kind of trinket exactly a week before this resource is needed in huge quantities for the story quest. There is only one saving – the morning of the current day, so the consequences of such errors can be very sad.

Mr. Prepper: Обзор

Traveling through the desert is somewhat reminiscent of races on a bike from Full Throttle.

Yes, there are renewable (that is, appearing every day at locations) resources, but these are only the first things in the production chains, like wood or iron. The same scarce electronics or plastic can only be obtained by sorting out unnecessary items found or trading with neighbors. Barter is not a panacea at all: in order to expand the assortment, it is necessary to pump the level of trust for a long and tedious time, and the limit of daily purchases is strictly limited – even with a large supply of money, one cannot buy in bulk.

The very process of survival turned out to be too routine. The typical day of the protagonist is unchanged almost until the completion of the rocket and consists of compulsory work in the garden (otherwise there will be nothing to eat), trips for resources to the forest, mine or desert (otherwise there is a risk of being left without fuel and money), breaks for rest or meals (otherwise you can fall into a hungry faint) and trade. Finding time to complete tasks sometimes fails for several in-game days, even with the necessary resources!

Mr. Prepper: Обзор

The interface, at least in the Russian version, leaves much to be desired – many inscriptions are too small.

The love of developers for tasks like “Accumulate the right materials, and then we will let you go a little further in the story” is difficult to explain. Walkthrough Prepper took me about a dozen and a half hours, and almost half of the time was spent on grinding – I can say for sure that without it the game would only get better.

There are also fights here, which, however, are not particularly difficult – the main thing is to stock up on weapons more powerful and stronger.

It seems that the developers themselves did not fully understand what genre they create their game in. For a simulator like Fallout Shelter or This War of Mine, the list of features is too meager: the bunker is far from being in the first roles, the process of building and managing an underground dwelling is primitive, and production automation is in its infancy.

On the other hand, sometimes what happens is reminiscent of a classic quest like Full Throttle – with a search for objects, various characters and funny dialogues. But what kind of quest is this, in which you spend a lot of time extracting resources in the most boring and inconvenient way?

Mr. Prepper is a good game, but only for once. It makes no sense to replay it (you won’t find anything new), nor desire (“thank you” to the grind). Nevertheless, this is a worthy option for review – if, of course, be patient and remember that we are far from a survivalist simulator.

Pros: anti-dictatorial satire and humor in general; the game in a good way resembles the quests of the “old school”.

Cons: grind; tightness; too small inscriptions in the interface.

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