Fail to prepare and you are preparing to fail, or so the saying goes. No such worry for our titular hero in this title however. Mr. Prepper, fresh off an arrest, is dropped back at his abode by a shady looking agent. We are told we are on probation, our vehicle has been taken from us and regular visits will be made by the agency to insure we are not in possession of any “suspicious items”.
Not to be swayed from his goals; 1) survive, 2) escape from the town of Murricaville which we reside in-game, Mr. Prepper gets to work right away with his plans. You see there has been a plague and a change of government, and that, we will just not stand for it now will we? No we must build, we must escape and to do so, we must prep.
Mr. Prepper is a resource management survival game with crafting elements developed by Rejected Games. Released initially in March 2021 for PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S owners now get their chance to prep and stick it to Murricaville’s tyrannical overlords.
The main play area is Mr. Prepper’s house, which from the untrained eye, appears to be just that, a house. You have the living area, kitchen, bedroom and backyard. All the standard fixtures to be considered as “normal” or “homely”. Look behind this middle American suburban house and you start to see the secrets within.
Key to the whole setup is the workbench out in the backyard, from here the world of bunker building is your oyster. From basic ladders and light fixtures to actual rocket pieces, they can all be crafted and installed as your secret mission to get out of dodge takes form. The items crafted can be used to create dedicated and more advanced set-ups in the rooms hollowed out below the main house.
Constructing new rooms underneath the house is pretty easy. Select the area to build and click on ‘build’; you will have yourself a potential new work area or even a rocket launch bay. Materials you need for the construction of items like a ladder to enter your bunker or lights to illuminate the rooms below can be found in a couple of ways. Right outside your doorstep there is a mailbox and a sign post. Want to order the items from a trader / neighbour? That’s fine, place the order and the goods will be with you before you can say Amazon Prime Now. Fancy finding the pieces on your own? No problem, hit up that sign post and head to the forest to gather wood and other materials.
Survival is key to any good prepper’s arsenal and you will need to make sure Mr. Prepper is fed and rested. At the top of the screen you have three meters, one for health, exhaustion and preparedness respectively. The main meter is preparedness and in order to keep it full you must make sure that Mr. Prepper gets his shut eye and his grub. If the meters are left to hit zero you faint and in the harder difficulty setting a faint is a game over, so you really need to keep on top of the balancing act.
The agency will insist on doing home visits, since you are on probation after all you must let them in for inspection. When an agent comes to the front door you must scurry to hide all evidence of your grand scheme. From flipping the planning board around (to reveal an amusing Bless the President propaganda poster) to pulling carpets over ladders, each suspicious object must be carefully concealed or you risk confiscation or worse, arrest.
All in Mr. Prepper is a really good idea for a game and sometimes comes across as a fun survival jaunt that is not too heavy on any one aspect. The visual side is pleasing for the most part and looks very sim-like. Character models, houses and items look ripped straight from The Sims 4. Seriously, the game looks like how The Sims might have appeared had the series been 2D. No voice acting, not even Simlish, is present outside of the opening cutscene. This is no major issue however, as most dialogue in the game is only a few speech bubbles long and probably wouldn’t have benefitted from being actually voiced.
Music and sound effects are at best basic and not much to write back home about. Basic clicks, pops, bangs and whirs play as you craft at the workbench. Background music does exactly what it says on the tin, with simplistic melodies being the theme song behind your grand schemes taking place.
See, it’s not the concept that lets the side down, it is the execution. Floaty, inaccurate controls restrict the experience from being a hassle-free affair. Often you find it takes several attempts to pick up or place crafted goods. For a game heavily reliant on placing new items in the game world, having the actual control scheme throw the biggest spanner in the world is a huge issue. Other issues arose on our play where we were asked to place an object in a bunker only to find it blocked the ladder out. Removing the ladder allowed the items to be placed, however we had no escape and were left to die a slow and painful death, trapped in our own safe room. Oh the irony.
A great idea sadly lessened as an experience by dodgy controls and game breaking issues held within. Perhaps a future patch to optimise things for a controller might increase playability but with Mr. Prepper we sadly didn’t escape Murricaville… we got trapped in our own bunker.
So there is nothing left to do or say except – Bless the president.
Mr. Prepper is available to download from the Xbox Store