Prey’s opening is strong; the first hour tee’s up a perfect ball ready to be knocked out of the park. Unfortunately it’s your uncoordinated nephew who steps up to take the swing. It’s a shame because, it’s the side stories and little things that turn the Talos-1 space station into a living environment.
Morgan Yu has a near impossible task, eliminate the alien outbreak aboard the now alien invested space station and after that first hour it’s up to the player to find the morsels of interesting content. These can range from the dozens of emails to fascinating side missions. Of course not all side missions are hits, but Prey does a good job of making it clear which ones tie into the overall story arc. These “bigger” side missions are intriguing and add some very interesting characters into the mix.
I spent the first 5 hours of the game breezing by most monsters. It was only until I started running into the tougher enemies where Prey started to get frustrating. The Typhon are black shadow-like creatures that can be terrifying, but not always for the right reason. Mimics are spider like creature that are very fun and unique aspect to Prey. Mimics can become nearly anything in the environment, a pair of shoes, desk lamp; you name it and the mimics and take form of that object. It’s a fun and terrifying experience when you go to grab that med pack and it quickly turns into a monster attacking you. The rest of the Typhon are a bit bland, besides the humanoid phantom, the rest just look like giant floating blobs. It’s hard to tell which giant blob you are fighting against until you scan it with your Psychoscope. Scanning each enemy will reveal their weakness and immunities, along with opening up skills on the alien side of the skill tree.
Enemies can range from a simple annoyance to taking you out with two attacks. The basic phantoms are pretty easy to dispatch, but eventually you will run into ones who harness electric and fire powers. It’s crucial to know what their weakness’ are and to approach them accordingly. I found myself frustrated with my early encounters with these higher difficulty enemies.
Taking out a mimic or phantom can be done with the guns, but merely tickle a Technopath or Weaver. There are only a few weapons that I found to be truly useful by the end of the game. The Gloo Cannon, which fires a material that can be used in a bunch of useful ways, is a huge system in Prey. It can be used to slow down enemies and set up some easy wrench hits to the face. It can also be used to makeshift platforms. It’s really fun to figure out a way to get somewhere by making a staircase of Gloo. That said the platforming and mantle mechanics can be frustrating at times. After creating a nice sequence of jumps for myself it then became a chore to use them. Getting on top of an object was hit or miss and predicting where I would land was not as precise as I wanted it to be.
Enemies even have the ability to nullify your guns, so pouring points into the weapon abilities seem like a waist of good neuromodes. It’s the Typhon abilities that are the stand out abilities and add a bit of flavor to Prey. At first I was against installing Typhon based neuromodes, Prey’s system of skill points, into my version of Morgan. It created a moral dilemma; I wanted to still be human. By holding off on the alien powers turrets would not fire at me and I could use that against the rest of the aliens on the station, but as I progressed I was dying constantly. That moral dilemma soon dissipated as I realized how much easier the alien powers made the game. Having access to electric and fire based attacks gave me a fighting chance against my enemies and were the only interesting paths on the skill tree.
The mimic ability is by far the most fun and interesting ability in the game. It may not be the most useful all the time, but the sheer possibility of turning into nearly anything in the game is a weird and fun thing to do.
The Gloo Cannon and Mimic abilities along with some other skill based abilities let you tackle any given situation in a multitude of ways. Hacking skills not high enough, just turn into a mug and slip right in to that armory. These are the moments in Prey that are truly special. Some areas became mini puzzles and I really had to think about I could accomplish my goal using what I had.
I enjoyed my 20 plus hours in Prey, but it wasn’t without frustration. There are so many small things that add weight to what could have been an amazing experience. Long load times plague the game and toward the end of the game I felt like I was staring at loading screens longer than actually playing. The zero gravity sections are done well and serve as shortcuts around the Talos One, but fighting outside the ship can be confusing. Much like Prey I find myself conflicted, Prey struggles to be an FPS, yet the stealth didn’t seem viable.
Prey offers up an interesting sci-fi narrative that I wish lived up to that first hour. With the large amount of choice and sheer ways to approach any situation I can recommend it to nearly everyone. You just might need stick some needles into Morgan’s face to get to the meat of it all.
- Excellent Sound Design
- Great Opening
- "Play Your Way"
- Long Loading Times
- Finicky Platforming
- Unsatisfying Combat