Prey is a first-person shooter game developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Originally announced and teased at E3 2016, Prey grabbed my attention immediately. However, despite the massive intrigue surrounding the title the game sold poorly on release. In fact, its opening week sales were 38% down from Arkane’s previous title, Dishonored 2. Still, Prey received positive reviews across the board. Why did gamers not invest in the game? Unfortunately I can’t answer that question. However, I can tell you if Prey is a game that is worth investing in.
In March 2032, Morgan Yu is recruited by their brother Alex to join TranStar’s research team on Talos I. You’re tasked with taking a series of tests prior to leaving for the station. One of the supervising doctors is attacked by a creature and Morgan is knocked out. Morgan wakes up again in their apartment, but quickly finds out that it is merely a simulated environment.
It is 2035 and Morgan has already been living on Talos I for three years. Morgan is then contacted by January, an Operator artificial intelligence that claims to have been built by Morgan. January warns Morgan that the Typhon have broken containment and taken over the station, killing the majority of the crew.
Neuromods allow for instantaneous learning of complex skills and abilities. A side effect of removing a neuromod is that the user loses all memories gained after installation of that neuromod. This explains Morgan’s memory loss. January then claims that Morgan built it to help himself destroy Talos I. Thus, taking the Typhon and all of its research with it. Meanwhile, Alex contacts Morgan and suggests instead building a special Nullwave device. This will destroy the Typhon but leave the station intact, citing how their research is too valuable to lose.
In Prey the player is able to select certain attributes of Morgan, including gender. Decisions made by the player affect elements of the game’s story. To survive, the player must collect and use weapons and resources aboard the station to fend off and defeat the Typhon.
Will you trust January and lead Morgan to destroy Talos I? Or will you side with Alex and do what you can to preserve the research regardless of the costs?
I have put in a substantial amount of time with Prey. Now, I can come to the conclusion that it is extremely underrated. Nobody was talking about it when discussing the best games of 2017 and I wonder why. It seems to have flown way under most people’s radar which is a huge shame. The story it presents is seriously intriguing and it is concluded in a very clever and satisfying manner. It’s the type of ending that you’ll never see coming which is always the best kind.
Talos I is a huge, creatively crafted sci-fi playground that you’re free to explore in whatever way you wish. Prey puts a real emphasis on freedom and playing the ways in which you want to. In a whole lot of ways, I got a major Bioshock vibe from Prey. Talos I feels a lot like Rapture which is in no way a negative. I love scavenging/hoarding in video games and the game is ridiculously addictive and satisfying in that regard. You’re rewarded for exploring as you’ll uncover many interesting pieces of information about the station, the history and its inhabitants.
Much like Bioshock, I must criticize Prey for allowing so much important plot information to be lost in optional collectibles. Throughout the huge station there are a lot of notes and audio logs. You’ll need to collect most of them if you want to fully understand it all. I’m not complaining but I imagine the average person would miss out on a lot.
The Typhon provide a decent variety of enemies for you battle. Each give their own challenge but the Mimics are definitely the standout. Their ability to create a copy of seemingly useless items around the environment is very impressive. It creates fun cat & mouse scenarios that often lead to clever jump scares. This adds to the already creepy atmosphere that Prey possesses, which is thanks in part to the subtle soundtrack. On the whole, the game offers a decent level of challenge even on normal difficulty. Weapons pack a satisfying punch even if battles often end in chaos. Also, I have to quickly praise the glue gun which is a really innovative weapon.
Finally, the ability to recycle weapons, items and junk back to their base elemental state is truly original and unique. You then use those elements to fabricate new items, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Now, some negatives. You’ll find yourself in a couple of Zero-G environments which are cool but not very fun. This is due to the realistic yet clunky and frustrating feeling controls. Also, any kind of climbing in the game feels very cumbersome. Graphically it has a unique style but it’s quite hit and miss and very rough around the edges. Technically, expect some bugs.
Another thing, the game doesn’t have any real boss fight to speak of. It lacks some big moments that really could have taken it to heights of 9 or 10 out of 10. However, my biggest criticism is aimed towards the horrifically long loading times in the game. Also, as much as I enjoyed the story I didn’t feel as connected or as emotionally invested in Morgan as I would have liked. He or She is not a particularly memorable protagonist.
Overall, Prey is a really good game that deserves much more recognition than its getting. In time, I believe people will discover it and feel the same.