Mr. Prepper Review – Xbox Series X|S

Set in an alternative history timeline your character has freshly been brought back home by the federal agents that represent the all-powerful government. You’re left alone in your house with nothing but your pension for survival and a crafty nature to construct a bunker that will ultimately lead you to outwit the powers that be. Mr. Prepper is exactly what it sounds like. You are a resourceful, bunker-building, crafty man who refuses to let the authority tell him what to do. With the looming threat of nuclear fallout will you be ready when the time comes?

Developed by Rejected Games and published by PlayWay S.A./Rejected Games this studio and publisher seem to be out of Poland. While there is little to find on Rejected Games outside of Steam, eagle-eyed readers will recognize PlayWay as the polish co-publisher of House Flipper, the once darling of all home improvement gamers. I note the region of the publisher as the game no doubt is localized for a western audience and has heavy commentary on our political climate. Your political leanings aside, it’s a satirical tone and farcical world that you’re ferreting away your resources in. After a failed attempt at escaping your confines, you’ve been told to stay put, but that won’t stop a free-thinker like you.

You will start with a basic house that is relatively empty. It’s just enough to get you going. You can sell, break down, and purchase more resources through your mailbox where a kindly mailman will offer some flavor text about the world as he sees it. Each day runs in a cycle and each task takes a certain amount of time. You’ll get tired, hungry, and have a general preparedness score to mark your days by and possible survival. You’ll break down materials, search a forest for food and dig holes in your floor to build your ultimate bunker while still feeding yourself and sleeping. Like most progression systems in these games, you’ll upgrade a workbench to learn more complicated and valuable recipes. It’s a fun game loop in a new setting and I generally like these kinds of games.

My main criticism of this game isn’t the game design or the difficulty curve; it’s how challenging it is to play with a controller. I reviewed my copy on the Xbox Series X|S consoles and while it ran well, I was always frustrated to not have a mouse in my hands. The interface is multifaceted with many different items to highlight and even more to grab in the world. The issue went beyond learning a new control scheme. I genuinely could not build the muscle memory to disassemble items quickly. While I was playing on the easiest difficulty and never really felt in danger of losing, I still felt the time crunch to make each second count and it was frustrating when I couldn’t communicate what I wanted to accomplish to the game.

There is a tutorial at the beginning of the campaign mode, but it isn’t all that helpful. Sometimes different windows would be open and the text telling me what to select would obscure my objective. I learned the most when I hopped into creative mode and took all the time I wanted to knock against the system. To be fair this was a prerelease build and these things could be ironed out. However, I do not expect the 1.0 patch to launch with an all-new user interface and control scheme.

The art design is simple and lighthearted. I especially like the setting with the authoritarian democracy gone awry and it’s up to the common man to fend for himself. It’s a fun premise and its heavy-handedness makes it funny, not annoying. Likewise, the sound effects and artwork were adequate and I enjoyed poking around the world visually to see what little details there were in the posters and artwork. I especially liked the street sign by my door used for fast travel that just read, “Here, There, Anywhere.” I get the feeling the developer enjoyed making it and doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

Mr. Prepper is a fun but frustrating game that has so many systems and plates to keep spinning that it can be daunting to break the surface. Luckily as challenging as it can be at times the rewards and feeling of having outsmarted the government outweigh its shortcomings. I enjoyed my time with it and will put it in my backlog. However, it is a real shame that controls were not streamlined more. Too much of my playtime was spent trying to figure out how to tell the game what I wanted to do.

Overall, if you love resource management, crafting, and stickin’-it-to-the-man then this is time well spent. Right now the asking price is $15.49 on the Xbox Store (I believe a holiday sale may bring it down to $13.16). While I think it’s a fair price for what you get, unless you love this genre I’d wait to see if the controls get patched. However, if the setting and genre are exactly what you’re looking for, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy hours trying to avoid the nuclear apocalypse.


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