Prepared or Not is a tactical horror recreation the place you creep by way of sprawling mazes of American decay looking for violent suspects amidst cowering bystanders. Steam at present loves it, however after spending just a few hours with it I can’t say I do. At its finest it’s an admirably tense puzzle recreation punctuated by twitchy shootouts, however it’s additionally a violent political fantasy with no capability for self-interrogation.
Developed by New Zealand-based Void Interactive, Prepared or Not places you within the boots of American legislation enforcement tasked with bringing “order to the chaos” of a failed state being torn aside by financial stratification and crime. Your instruments for pacification embody assault rifles, shotguns, submachine weapons, and naturally an limitless provide of military-grade zip-ties.
Deployed throughout poor neighborhoods, automotive dealerships, and fuel stations, your job is to methodically breach and clear labyrinth-sized ranges till the entire unhealthy guys are in custody or lifeless. Fail to execute every encounter in response to the correct guidelines of engagement and also you’ll be chastised with failing grades on the finish of every stage like a foul rating in Dance Dance Revolution.
Even earlier than it blew up on Steam, Prepared or Not sparked controversy, and misplaced its writer, after one in every of its builders seemingly re-committed to including a faculty capturing stage. Gamers on the sport’s Discord fantasized about which gear they’d use to search out the shooter on this potential situation. Void Interactive ultimately weighed in to reassure everybody it will deal with such traumatic content material with care, however after enjoying by way of a handful of the sport’s present maps I’m uncertain.
Ready or Not is more like a game of MouseTrap than a round of Call of Duty. You’ll spend more time peeking around doors for traps than spraying and praying, leaving behind a trail of chem lights to mark where you’ve already been. Eventually you’ll hit upon NPCs who won’t surrender, and who instead pull weapons and start lighting you up with the superhuman fury of a Matrix agent. Hence the fear and trepidation with which you and the rest of your squad, bungling AI companions if playing solo or other players if online, make your way through “affordable housing” meth labs and hotel under siege.
It’s an incredibly evocative combo, helped in part by detailed sound cues and the eerie ambient drumming of the electronic soundtrack, that’s handled with all the care of a toddler running with scissors. Ready or Not’s realism is effective enough to disturb but too shallow not to descend into farce, or worse, Blue Lives Matter cosplay with fascist overtones and alt-right dog whistles.
An easter egg in the game’s starting headquarters area consists of a discarded “red pill” box in a trash can with the words “Noggin Joggers” on the side, which some have interpreted as 4chan-speak for the N-word (Void Interactive didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark to make clear the meant which means). Elsewhere a field of Vitamin D dietary supplements for “Bonor Well being” from “Whore Meals” sits on a desk subsequent to spare ammunition, whereas one other vitamin field references the Pepe meme. There’s additionally the now notorious “Anal Staircase” signal from one of many recreation’s outdated trailers which belongs to an upcoming intercourse membership stage.
Random bystanders have only some recorded traces they’ll bark at you in the intervening time, one in every of which is, “My mother has a Mexican maid, you may know her.” There’s already a “Mute Cringey Voice Strains” mod to take away it, although Void Interactive introduced it additionally plans to interchange it in a later replace. Then there’s the legislation and order ideology that frames the remainder of the sport. America is on the brink. Crime is at an all-time excessive. It could actually’t be fastened, solely subdued. The sport trains you to concern everybody you meet, not as commentary however as wish-fulfillment, and with seemingly no consciousness of the nation’s latest reckoning with an epidemic of police killings.
Amidst these disorienting tonal shifts, which vary from the juvenile to the brazenly racist, there are extremely grim moments like once you come throughout a toddler writhing in ache in her pink bed room. “Wounded civilian clear and prepped for evac,” your SWAT officer says in his RoboCop voice. Whether or not as a result of Prepared or Not stays an extremely barebones Early Entry recreation or as a result of Void Interactive lacks the sophistication, it makes all the affair really feel crass and exploitative.
That hasn’t stopped Prepared or Die from receiving a flood of optimistic user-reviews praising the sport on Steam. Some little question as a result of they see in it the seeds of a devoted successor to the outdated SWAT video games, and thus a return to the type of sluggish, tactical, claustrophobic gunplay that even video games like Rainbow Six Siege have largely deserted. Others possible due to the best way it drapes that gameplay in strong-man cop worship (there are not any feminine police within the recreation but) and offers a neat and tidy technique to counter one system of violence with one other.
That fantasy doesn’t come low-cost although, in actual life or on Steam. Prepared or Not’s beta at present prices $40 to participate in, whereas a particular Supporter’s Version is twice as a lot. It’s inconceivable to render closing judgement on a recreation that appears extra unfinished than not, however thus far it’s not shaping as much as be the type I’d belief to deal with the simulation of a faculty bloodbath.