Should you play some games before playing others? (Not counting games within a franchise (ex. Playing Jak and Daxter before Jak 2))


While listening to Waypoint Radio’s Ep. 62: The 0451 Doctrine I noticed they referenced BioShock a lot when discussing Prey. Although Austin claimed Prey is “not a shock-like” and is rather, a game that comes after BioShock and is aware of that fact I can’t help but wonder if I should play the BioShock trilogy before jumping into Prey.

Some of you may be tempted to tell me to play BioShock first simply because how the hell have I not played BioShock yet (I know; I’m sorry!) but my questions are as follow:

Will I enjoy Prey less having never played BioShock? Will I enjoy BioShock less if I play Prey first? And what games do you recommend people check out before playing X game, if any?


I think Prey stands well enough on its own!

It borrows pretty heavily from BioShock and that lineage of games (especially Bioshock’s aesthetic) but I think it’s enough its own thing and enough of a full experience to enjoy on its own.

My favourite game is Dishonored but I’ve never played a Thief game and I never felt like I had a lesser experience for it.


It definitely depends on how much you, as a person, care about holistic context of the art you appreciate.

I’m sure Prey stands on its own, and Bioshock is a great game, but I don’t think playing it is necessary, at least not for every person. It’s the equivalent of like, saying you have to watch Road Warrior before you watch Fury Road, the same ideas may be present, and there is a clear refinement to them from film to film that is compelling to study, but on their own they are still two distinct films without much bearing on eachother. What you deem to be necessary context for your enjoyment is entirely on you. Some people will surely end up going far enough down the rabbit hole to buy a couple of Ayn Rand novels.

Atelier Recommended Order?

Prey was very clearly inspired by the System Shock games (and Bioshock being as popular a series as it is definitely made its creation possible) but those System Shock games, Bioshock and Prey are able to stand on their own.

Same with Dishonored and Thief honestly. Thief is one of my favorite games ever made, but I wouldn’t love Dishonored any more or less (and I do love it) if I hadn’t played Thief before it.

System Shock 2 is excellent, and worth playing if you like Prey a lot because they share some similarities, but it is interesting to play the games that inspired another major game to get some insight into what things really stuck with the developers and how well they translated compared to their inspiration. System Shock is also super awesome but it’s more of a shooter.

I was really happy with the marketing for Prey, part of it was that they partnered with the Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn to have demos of the game along with screenings of movies that inspired it like Total Recall,* etc. I think that’s awesome because I (and I’m probably a bit biased because I was a manager at GameStop for like ten years so I was inundated with this) got so cynical about any game preview because of how 90% of game marketing acts like game is a completely totally new thing that has never been done before ever and it’s like, it’s okay to say you liked a thing a lot.

Like I get more insight into a game or movie when I look at other games or movies the creators like than hearing the usual PR stuff about how a game is epic or has deep choices or whatever other template stuff.

*LMAO seeing Total Recall in a theater was incredible but it also it was all gamers and game industry people, I think this was the only time I’ve ever been at this theater (and I’ve gone like every two weeks since it’s opened basically) where they had someone come out just to announce how you should tip the servers and not scream loudly or have conversations during the movie. :joy:


I also never read any Ayn Rand so I guess I should go Ayn Rand > BioShock > Prey if I want to REALLY do a deep dive haha. I should go through all of those and stream it on Twitch (including reading the books).


Okay cool. I’ll probably do BioShock first since I already own the trilogy on PS4 (trying not to spend so much money buying and never finishing anything). Had no idea about the Dishonored Thief connection. Dishonored has peaked my interest (thanks to Waypoint Radio) and I got Thief for Xmas as a random game. @NeoRasa I’ve only played an hour or so. It came off as kind of basic to me (i.e simplistic, not always the smoothest control wise, fairly easy when set to normal) but I instantly LOVED it. Can’t wait to actually finish it.


Oh yeah that’s awesome. :slight_smile: Thief is so, like, dangerous feeling? Incredible job creating a film noir story in a fantasy setting. Now that you mention it, it is pretty simple, but I love its rules. I was surprised they didn’t release it on consoles when that fourth Thief game came out since it would translate to a game pad very easily.

There’s a “great” gltich in it, if you jump while running, you don’t lose the forward momentum you gained from jumping, so you run slightly faster afterwards. There’s a few points in the game with enough open space where you can jump while running and build up enough speed to kill yourself by running into a wall. :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:


Please don’t torture yourself by reading Ayn Rand or others by reading Ayn Rand to them. :grin:


“Hashtag content”


I think that much like other things that inspire a genre or sub-genre, when you eventually get around to watching or playing them for yourself, the other games will be given a bit more depth… and maybe some Easter Eggs and shit will make more sense… but it’s not essential.

If you care about wringing all the extra flavor from the games you play though, it might be worth going back to the clunkier controls of the mid-00s if you can stand to do so.


I feel like a quality of many good games (or any piece of media) is it’s ability to stand by itself. Take the Incredible Hulk for example. While understanding/knowing that the Hulk is Marvel’s analog for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (and General Ross is an analog for Captain Ahab) can make you appreciate the story all the more, it is not a prerequisite to enjoy stories featuring that character. Same doubles for games. Somebody can enjoy Final Fantasy XV without having to go back and play the original. Think the only thing you would be missing out on is the discussion element and how shooters have evolved over the past decade in Prey and Bioshock’s case.


I don’t know if this is too close to the sequel/franchise disclaimer to count for this discussion, since they’re both games by Davey Wreden, but I’d recommend playing The Stanley Parable before playing The Beginner’s Guide.

There’s no narrative connection between the two, and they’re definitely not entries in a series or franchise, but there are some thematic similarities. The Beginner’s Guide deals a lot with the relationships between a creator and their work and their audience, and Wreden’s previous game adds an interesting layer of context to that exploration. You could still play and enjoy both separately, but I think that context is pretty important, as The Beginner’s Guide is clearly a game influenced by the creation, release and reactions to The Stanley Parable.


I’d say that it’s actually more important (from a contextualisation perspective) to have played System Shock 2. Also that Prey has been made to stand alone (as most people haven’t played SS2) so you really don’t have to play anything before but that any immersive sim you have played will give you a quicker handle on the type of game you’re experiencing. But it should teach you enough to go in even totally cold to the genre. It’s a genre built on top of the FPS so as long as you’re familiar with those conventions (or are a quick study - but I’d really say that you want to have the basics of FPSs before you jump in) then you can learn the rest.

Nothing against Bioshock (at least the firs two thirds of the first game, the DLC for the second, and the less said about Infinite the better) but it’s really not an integral part to the genre; it is the popularisation of the genre. There are good moments, the first has a good reveal, and by the end of the trilogy you can feel the combat fatigue burning through (which is already turning the later parts of the first game into a slog) and the narrative threads unravelling in front of you.

The only thing that’s negative about playing stuff in a genre out of order is the pain of going back. Some of the rough edges may build character but others are just either design refinement no one had thought of yet or technological limitations of the time. So going back to SS2 today is not without pain points. The original SS, even more so (which is why the remake should be interesting - retaining the original game but with an interface you can grok without teleporting back to the wild west of 1994 emerging 3D design).


The case with the Prey/BioShock comparison is that the connection and inspiration between these games is for the most part mechanical. Prey iterates a lot on the core concepts of the Immersive Sim, so if you went back and played the Immersive Sims before it you might come out either appreciating how Prey has expanded and improved on those concepts or disappointed that Prey didn’t do enough to differentiate itself from its forebears.

What’s interesting to me is that there are some games where, for narrative reasons, it’s necessary to play other games first. The one that comes to mind is Spec Ops: The Line. Of course, I feel like someone could appreciate the game on its own terms, but I feel like a lot would be missed if the player was completely unfamiliar with the tropes and trappings of the modern military shooters that The Line is deconstructing. Funnily enough, BioShock would be another good example, because the plot of the game is reliant on the player being conditioned to think a certain way through being familiar with the limitations and tropes of video games as a medium.


I don’t think I feel this way about any video games, but I definitely feel this way about certain board games.

e.g. if someone was new to hidden role/social deduction games, I’d recommend they start out with The Resistance or Avalon, because that’s a whole genre that has really become much bigger over the last few years and there’s almost a metagame there of strategies, and then new games being invented that invalidate those strategies or add a twist.

But as an introduction, something like Avalon is still great for your basic ‘there’s a good team and a bad team, the good team has to figure out who the bad team is’ introduction.

The closest I can think of with video games is that I think maybe there are better and worst intro games for the adventure genre. It’s a maligned genre, and I think sometimes unfairly - I think the puzzles do, more often make sense to people who are used to adventure games. Not to say there aren’t some examples of terrible puzzles, but they tend to be the exceptions and therefore memorable rather than the rule.

But if I was introducing someone to the genre for the first time I might recommend one of the more ‘pure’ examples of adventure puzzling. Day of the Tentacle would be good because of the satisfying way its puzzles interlock and fairly short length, and the fact that’s it’s sort of story-light for an adventure game. It can almost be thought of a crash course in how to solve adventure puzzles.

I wouldn’t give them Full Throttle because that has a few particularly bad puzzling sections that I think might give a poor impression to a first-timer, but I’d definitely recommend it once familiar. And Grim Fandango I would maybe leave a bit later. I think the puzzles are actually (mostly, with a few exceptions) good, but the odd interface and difficulty makes it tricky to start on, too.

I’d definitely avoid the old Sierra ones, partially to do with my personal bias, but also because I just think the death-is-rare-and-usually-for-a-joke approach that LucasArts used and think it’s more welcoming.


You know, this is actually a question with a real complicated answer.

My first reaction is that, well, it depends on what you want out of the experience. Playing older games (and, depending on the game, consuming other fiction where related, for example Spec Ops: The Line and Apocalypse Now) will give you more context and understanding while playing through it. On the flip side, going into an experience fresh and free of those preconceptions can change an experience, either for better (it becomes more enjoyable; for example, I went into Nier Automata without having played any Yoko Taro games or consuming barely any Blade Runner-esc media, so I wasn’t extra blown away) or it could make it worse (you might be more forgiving of flaws if you understand what a game is trying to do; if I tried to play through the first Nier before Automata, I would’ve given up and watched it on YouTube, but now I’m pushing through the bad to see the good).

Then again, there’s something potentially more important to consider. Should a game have the equivalent of required reading? If it does, does that mean it leans on something else too much, and in reality isn’t that great of an experience on its own? Does a product need to stand on its own merits, or can it exist as a subset of something else?

I guess it depends on the goals of the game you’re talking about. If it’s attempting to comment on another game(s), using the mechanics to tell an interesting story, then it makes more sense to have consumed that media. If it’s taking ideas and iterating on them in different and fun ways, then there is no need to outside of any personal preference.

I’m still pissed at myself for playing Mass Effect all wrong I played 3 for 5 hours, went back and played 2, then played through the rest of 3 with the original save instead of carrying over my progress from 2, and to top it off then never played 1. So I think about this kind of thing a lot haha :stuck_out_tongue:


Oooo I like that example. I have The Stanley Parable in my steam library and (as a new fan of sim games) I can’t wait to finally check it out. On that note, to answer my own question and to also get a bit close to the sequel/franchise disclaimer as well: I think playing Limbo before Inside would be wise. It’s not at all necessary but I’d say if you want to play both games that’s the order you should go in because there are some commonalities and the way PlayDead builds on the ideas they started in Limbo is really fun to see/be aware of.

Personally, I find Limbo a bit overrated (great game but it didn’t resonate strongly with me) so I think if someone went from Inside to Limbo it’d feel like a drop off even though they are each their own game.


Your mass effect story reminds me of how I never watched the first Matrix movie: just 2 & 3. haha


The more I read this thread the more time I wish I had to go through games that follow a lineage more. That includes going through a developers history and seeing how their ideas became more fully fleshed out or where you can see where someone tried something new. Going through a franchise is one thing but even when a developer switches genres there are still elements to pick up. I am more likely to do this with movies since it is easier to watch a few films with Amy Adams in succession or watch a few Nolan flicks in a weekend.

Suda feels like one of the more interesting people you could do this with.


We should go a step further and play games that inspired the developer. Really take it to the next level