Prey might initially confuse gamers who remember the original FPS back in the day where, as a Cherokee, you’re abducted on board an alien space ship and can summon your ancestral spirits to help you. It was a lot of fun, then Prey 2 was announced which seemed radically different and was canned, and now there’s another Prey game here in 2017. Well, apart from the fact that you’re on a spaceship, that’s the only similarity here and it’s nothing to do with the original game or its canned sequel.
The game starts off really well. You wake up and are invited to participate in an experiment and things quickly go wrong, with an alien race called the Typhon obliterating almost everyone on the space station orbiting the Earth alongside the Moon called Talos 1. For me, things then took a massive downturn as I only seemed to have a wrench and fighting these creatures that could resemble spiders or walking black goo was infuriating. Waving an unwieldy melee weapon around and missing is absolutely no fun and your character Morgan isn’t the most agile I’ve seen in an FPS world.
What eventually happens is that through exploration of the various annexes you unlock as you explore, you install Neuromods which are upgrades and the equivalent of Plasmids in Bioshock that give you more powers and better abilities which means you have at least a fighting chance with the things trying to kill you. In fact, developers Arcane have borrowed heavily from the game, with the left trigger being used for other-worldly powers you learn from scanning the creatures and the right trigger being for traditional weapon use. Even the world is a clockwork art-deco clad universe that mixes old and new, something we’ve also seen in the Dishonored games. You’ll also have to use a combo of weapons to kill different foes because they all have different immunities and vulnerabilities to be exploited.
One neat thing I haven’t seen before is recycling machines that take all the junk you find and use it to make materials you can then use to craft items and ammo in a machine called a Fabricator. I know it feels like a two step process but there’s something fun about seeing all those blocks pour out, collecting them and then using them to make new stuff! Floating about in anti-gravity is also a necessity at times as you venture outside the station to enter breached areas of the hull to find more goodies.
Graphics are a mixed bag. People you interact with look real in a cartoonish kind of way as usual from this developer but some of the textures seem just too simple. At other times, such as when you’re moving through the Arboretum, the world looks lush. Video walls are also a cool idea in that they’re more like mirrors looking into a world recorded from the past. You can even smash the glass and see what’s behind if you so wish!
The game encourages you to play the game the way you want. You can go for a stealthy approach, use traditional weapons, or go all alien and install Neuromods to use their own powers against them. Maybe I’m just playing the game wrong but on normal mode it’s frustratingly tricky. The game loads you into areas where you are instantly attacked and killed and sometimes I died and didn’t even know why. I spent a long time looking at loading screens as I reloaded and used instant save round every corner for fear of being killed without any warning.
Prey starts well, gets annoying to the point of putting it down not long into the game but thankfully, as you persevere, gets a little easier to play, dialling up the intrigue further. So if you like sci-fi mysteries and all things in space, I’d recommend giving the game a go on easy and ramping the difficulty up and down as you desire. You can do this without consequence from the options menu which suggests to me they know this game is unbalanced when it comes to a fair challenge.
I wish I could give Prey more but this time around, it gets 7.5 out of 10.
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