Be afraid, be very afraid…
Prey is set in the year 2032 and features protagonist Morgan Yu, a scientist and the subject of an experiment involving an alien species named the “Typhon”. The game focuses on ceasing the outbreak of the shape-shifting Typhon aboard the Talos 1 space-station. The premise of the game is to stop the outbreak of the Typhon species by all means possible before it gets a chance to reach earth, no matter the cost!
Imagine a universe where Dead Space meets BioShock and you’ll be somewhere close to the overall themes portrayed in Prey. This is a survival game at heart, set in a first person perspective. The level design and play space around the Talos 1 is fantastic and even the instances where you’ll be engaged in zero G-force movement are an immersive treat to play through. Navigation around the station is usually spiced up with a variety of puzzles, in the way of locked doors and obstacles. Most of these are overcome by acquiring exotic and unusual skills unlocked as you progress through the game (more on this later).
The variety of Typhons ranges from spider-like creatures called “Mimics” which do exactly that, mimicking almost anything and pouncing on their prey at any moment. Then there are the bigger, more humanoid beings called “Phantoms”, which can teleport and have abilities such as a kinetic blast. The others include a telepathic type that can control some of the humans aboard the Talos and some pod-like beings that let off flaming spores. The ever changing variety of enemies kept the play through interesting as I was never sure what would be lurking around each corner. This added to the skillfully-crafted and over-riding tension the game gave.
In order to beat the enemies and overcome the obstacles that scatter the station, players will utilise an experimental gene splicing technology developed aboard the Talos. The self-installed upgrades or “Neuromods” offer boosts to health and stamina, alongside interesting and unique Typhon-esque abilities like morphing shape. This intriguing variety of skills and abilities can only be compared to those seen in the Dishonored series, which, just like Prey, were developed by Arkane Studios.
Sadly, however, Prey is not without its downfalls. In recent years, we’ve become accustomed to consoles having the necessary power to boot up game sequences in seconds flat. This has meant that anytime a game takes a slightly longer than average time to load, it can feel like an eternity. This is painfully apparent in Prey, as load times can near the two-minute mark in some areas and detaches any sense of immersion you may have had.
There’s also an annoying amount of seemingly irrelevant reading material scattered around the station. Whilst I appreciate the devs attempt at a slightly more interactive environment, text boxes often repeat themselves and tend to get in the way. Being the explorative type, I like searching every nook and cranny for any collectable, easter egg or hidden backstory, however, this reading material doesn’t seem to hold up any relevant lore and as said, often repeats itself. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding something somewhat interesting, only to realise you actually read it a few rooms ago.
I have already poured countless hours into Prey on several different playthroughs, each one equally as unique and exciting. The non-linear gameplay offers a varying adventure for every player as objectives can be completed in the best manner you see fit, with near to no limitations. True to Arkane’s reputation, the controls, HUD and menus have all been well thought and neatly developed, offering a tidy and futuristic feeling, expected in this sci-fi thriller.
Overall, Prey is a tidy, well-rounded title with plenty to offer. With weeks worth of replayability and a large roaster of abilities, every player’s story will be different. I’d thoroughly recommend Prey to fans of any of Arkane previous titles, or those partial to a bit of a jump, every now and again.