Preying on your worst fears.
Prey has seen some pretty highs and lows in its time. The first game came out during the infancy of the Xbox 360. While garnering some pretty high praise for its time it was still a bit rough around the edges, but most certainly had potential. Prey 2 was announced and people showed a ton of interest. It seemed to change up the formula and create a new world that could be very interesting. It then disappeared for years until it was finally canceled. After that, no one expected another Prey game. Then, out of nowhere, Arkane Studios from Dishonored fame comes in with a brand new reboot of Prey. I have to say, it’s pretty impressive.
Prey has players step into the shoes of Morgan Wu, a research scientist on board the space station Talos 1. Here, aliens have taken over the station, but not just any ordinary alien, these Typhons can mimic practically anything. What looks like a coffee cup, could be a dangerous Typhon that can rip a person to shreds. Morgan must find out what exactly has happened aboard the Talos 1, while trying to survive.
Platforms: PS4, XB1, PC
Price I’d pay: $59.99
The game itself is a first person shooter. Much like in the same vein as Dishonored it is encouraged to try different things in order to progress. Arkane really drives that home, not only with tutorials at the beginning, but also in how the entire area is laid out. Mix that with some rather interesting weapons and abilities, and we have ourselves a horror-themed Dishonored in space. Of course, that’s not to say Prey doesn’t have its own merits. It most certainly does when it comes to exploration and atmosphere.
Exploration is the name of the game in Prey. Finding alternate routes to certain areas or trying to avoid enemies altogether can be beneficial to the player. This can be done a number of ways, but one of the easiest is through the Gloo Gun. This weapon not only stops enemies in their tracks, but can also be used to create platforms Morgan can climb on that will allow Morgan to reach higher spots that may offer up new routes or materials that can be used. I mentioned abilities earlier, but they really matter when it comes to playing how the player wants. Starting off, players will find Neuromods that can be used to upgrade Morgan. To start off, it is normal upgrades like more health, repair skills, and better healing. Later on, players are introduced to alien modifications that allow for some pretty special abilities like telekinesis and even the ability to mimic things in the environment. Utilizing all these are what allow the player to take any situation differently.
The combat is the weakest part of Prey. Starting off early on with a wrench and Gloo Gun and a health pool that drains fast from even the most standard of enemies, the first few hours of the game was a pretty rough drag. After upgrading, and of course and finding new weapons, the combat became tolerable, but still felt sluggish. I even went into the menus to adjust the look sensitivity and still wasn’t able to find a happy medium. If anything, the ability to slow down time mixed with Gloo Gunning the enemies in their tracks was at least helpful when being overwhelmed, which happened a decent amount.
Upgrading Morgan is only one way to increase survivability. There is a full on crafting system in Prey where players can pick up pretty much anything in the environment and take it to certain areas that will allow them to recycle materials, and then use those materials for creating weapons and ammunition. It’s yet another feature in what is already a jam-packed game.
The story is told mainly through playback of videos and sound recordings, but Morgan will meet a few people on Talos 1. The biggest and possibly most helpful way to discover new things is through reading emails at different terminals. Here, players can find passwords for terminals, information on where crucial things are, and many other things. It feels a bit like Deus Ex in that sense.
What really makes Prey so special is the combination of how enemies act and the atmosphere itself. Seeing a mimic scurry across the floor behind a desk only to find nothing but papers and a pen on the ground then having the pen morph into a Typhon always got a jump on me. The sound design is fantastic, and I highly suggest playing this game with headphones on at all times. The creaking of the structure and the sound of Morgan’s breathing while outside the station really add a lot to the atmosphere. Not to mention the horror soundtrack that still gives me a slight jump when it kicks in.
Since each area is pretty massive, allowing players to explore and have the freedom to do as they wish, the loading times for travelling between areas or even after dying can get rather long. While it didn’t kill the whole game for me, it did make me think twice about backtracking to get something I may have missed from a previous area.
Coming into this game expecting maybe an above average alien shooter, I was actually really impressed. It has the makings of a BioShock or System Shock while keeping it fresh with new abilities and full exploration to play how I wanted. The horror elements are there and work well, and while the story isn’t the best out there, it is enough to keep people playing. If you’re looking for a new horror game or even a game much like Dishonored where freedom to do what you want is the main crux, Prey is the game for you.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.