Prey is a masterful game, wrapped around the blankets of such games as System Shock and a little bit of BioShock while being a First-Person shooter hybrid game.
Developed by Arkane Studios, the studio behind the Dishonored games, Prey shares a similar heritage to that of Dishonored. Dishonored was a callback to games like Thief, Prey takes its inspiration from System Shock and BioShock. The result is something absolutely breathtaking and one of the best games of 2017. It’s all about you unraveling it’s close-guarded secrets and unraveling it’s mysteries.
Prey begins as Morgan Yu awaken to a mysterious nightmare that’s underway on Talos I, the space station that the game takes place in. The premise I’ll keep to myself as we go along because it’s one of those games that you have to play to experience, much similar to BioShock and System Shock.
The setting is a cosmonaut that has seen been better days, and is haunted by something mysterious that has been dwelling since the early years of the Cold War, it’s narrative owes alot to the noir genre. Prey kinda builds up a nagging thought in the back of your head that calls into question of who should you trust and what’s your perception of what’s going on. Prey’s influence is not just from games like BioShock and System Shock but also from 20th century sci-fi authors like Philip K. Dick.
Without giving too much away, as I see that you have to go in blindfolded. Talos I is the epicenter of all scientific breakthroughs and this is where most of the game takes place. Talos I is home to millions of scientists, engineers, and robots who serve as workers and servants.
Prey’s plot is very recognizable, but it’s the elements that it takes it’s inspiration and cues from that makes the game so appealing and ultimately, terrifying. Things go awry aboard the space station and you’re dropped smack dab in the middle. The objective is to find who is responsible for the outbreak and discover what went wrong.
Prey weaves a consistent narrative throughout the whole game and the narrative is as engaging and excellent as it is consistent. It’s a wonderful reboot and a wonderful introduction to the world itself, delivering excellent world lore and history that feels as it could be set up for at least two more sequels. I won’t spoil the main plot as it is mystery and intrigue that pushes you forward, much like BioShock did in 2007. The world tells the story for you and the camera control never leaves you, there’s very few cutscenes.
Every event in the game that you experience feels like a smaller part of the larger story, every single NPC has a story to tell and those stories overlap. Divergence is a big theme within the story, down to the in-game lore and the enemies. Every choice you make has a consequence, even right down to the upgrade abilities.
The narrative isn’t your typical narrative that most games have of get to this checkpoint, shoot people, and watch cutscene to progress the story. Instead, it is very subtle and is told through the environment much like BioShock did. Unwrapping the mysteries of Prey is surprising.
The story of Prey is masterful and excellent, it questions the nature of things and the nature of basically everything much like BioShock once did a decade ago. As you can tell I am referencing BioShock alot, as it is the closest thing that I am reminded of and for very good reason.
Prey technically is a FPS but it really isn’t if you want to get into the meat of things. Prey’s combat is slow and the weapons are awkward to use but it’s supposed to be that way. Morgan Yu isn’t a marine or Master Chief, he’s very squishy even when you upgrade his abilities but you have a fighting chance with the weapons that you are given.
The weapons aren’t your traditional weapons from many games outside of the handy dandy pistol and shottie that you’re given. You can set up plasma traps, you can use the unique Gloo Gun which sprays fluid to trap enemies and can also be used to make new pathways, unblock certain obstacles. The recycler grenades that you can pick up can be used as mines, repairing things, and positioning security turrets. You can fight your own way and no single fight will be the same way.
Prey gives you the ability to do whatever you want. It allows you to customize your character and your guns in various ways, there is no limit to what you can do. You’re able to tailor the game to your needs and your unique playstyle, nobody plays the same way. You can upgrade your weapons, you can focus on stealth or you can go in guns blazing. You can play Prey as a traditional run and gun shooter but you wouldn’t see what the game is all about, and you would be locking yourself out of the full experience.
The best part of Prey is that you can use anything like pointless weapons to your disposal, such as a toy dart and you can use the darts to reach certain buttons that you wouldn’t be able to reach and trigger mines. It’s a great way to get the jump on those pesky aliens. The Gloo Gun can be used not just to get around but also to create cover and block doorways.
Prey combines the best parts of BioShock, System Shock, Half-Life 2, and the stealth elements of games like Thief to create something unique and out of the box that most games usually don’t do. Arkane created one of the best games of this generation, hands down.
Prey’s setting and story creates something that I haven’t seen since the ‘2000s. It reminds me heavily of games like BioShock, System Shock, Deus Ex, and Half-Life 2. The unsettling sense of something watching you can give quiet moments great tension, the combat can be better-tuned to match games of today but other then that, Prey is an unforgettable experience.