As Bethesda no longer provide review codes until the day of release, there has been a rush for publications and bloggers to blast through Prey and a rush to get their thoughts online. I wanted to take my time with Prey and explore all that it has to offer so that I could put forward the best review possible.
Bethesda, renowned for their open world RPGs teamed up with Arkane Studios to create a suspenseful horror/action/FPS game set in space. The opening hours of Prey set the scene for the game in a space station, Talos 1, overrun with the Typhon alien threat. Discovery is a large part of this game not only as it sets the scene for you as the player, but also as the protagonist (Morgan Yu) who has had their memory wiped and not a clue as to what is going on.
This allows you to discover everything anew with Morgan and make your own judgments of who to/not to trust. Multiple characters show various levels of guidance and advice as you progress through the game but as each have their own motives, it’s difficult to know who to trust. This only adds to depth of story and mystery in the game.
Everywhere can feel abandoned and eerily still
Talos 1 in it’s prime day was a home for thousands of people, but since the Typhon’s have laid waste to nearly everyone, almost everywhere can feel abandoned and eerily still. The only remains of the people before are emails, notes and audio logs left behind. For many games these can feel broken and separate, quick snips into a life that feel throwaway. Prey’s voice acting and continuity between these snippets builds stories of how things once were, or how things began to fall apart. Bringing to life this now dormant space station.
Most of the other Typhon types aren't so stealthy. Phantoms are much bigger and swagger through rooms emitting a whispering sound. There are sub variants of these which result in different elemental attacks, meaning you need to change up tactics for each encounter. Weavers are more hit and run, whereas Technomancers use turrets to do their bidding. There is one Typhon which scared the hell out of me and for good reason, it’s simple known as the Nightmare. Periodically throughout the game the Nightmare arrives in your area and begins to track you down. This thing makes quick work of anything in it's path and I only took it on a handful of times. The rest of the time, I hid in the smallest corner I could find and waited until it left.
Each of these beasts are difficult to defeat, not just because of their abilities but because they hit, hard! I’m one that enjoys a challenging game and will often up the difficulty if I feel I'm getting by too well. But Prey made me suffer. Playing through on normal difficulty was a challenge, especially later in the game. To the point where, in some instances, I ran from door to door praying I wasn't killed outright. Fair to say it made me work for any win.
Beneath these skill trees and abilities is an enjoyable solid FPS.
When it comes to fighting these enemies, Prey provides a modest number of firearms, including a pistol and shotgun. Upgrade kits let you enhance these weapons to make them stronger, better to handle and faster to reload. To help strengthen your character there are a number of human abilities to boost your health, recovery, weapon damage and other perks. Some help you to get around Talos 1 itself by the way of repairing or hacking machinery and doors. In addition to this after some research into the Typhon species you can upgrade yourself with their abilities as well. Transform into a turret, deliver a psychic hit, or launch your enemies high into the air. Once leveled up, these really can pack a punch to the point where you can even begin to stand your ground more.
To start off with I held off using any of these abilities. Many a game rely on these powers to make a game feel satisfying and enjoyable. I'm very glad to say that Prey doesn't do this. Beneath these skill trees and abilities is an enjoyable solid FPS. I’ve played through the entire game without any abilities and didn’t feel like it lacked anything. I was a simple man (he's not kidding - ed) with a shotgun facing off an alien threat. With this solid grounding, it felt like the abilities were bonus features which allowed easier passage through the game. Almost like a bespoke difficulty setting.
The GLOO gun is a tool and weapon which is key to Prey. As a weapon, the balls of gluey substance cling to enemies and cover them, slowing them to a standstill allowing you to deliver brutal shots. When facing off against stronger enemies, ambushing them with this weapon first became vital to stand a chance. The GLOO gun as a tool is just as fun. In a lot of instances there is a doorway or path blocked by some means. Now, rather than passing it by or trawling through countless drawers and cupboards, the GLOO gun allows you to build a pathway vertically which can circumnavigate the obstacle. I frequently climbed the rafters with the GLOO gun to see what I can find. Prey clearly wants you to do this as I found a good number of goodies and shortcuts in my exploration.
For what could be considered as a linear game (to a degree), it encourages creative thinking for problem solving and lots of exploration. Even now I know I’ve missed rooms, but I’ll soon be going back to see what they hold.
Graphically, you can see inspiration from the likes of Dishonored in the character design and I couldn't help but feel a degree of Bioshock influence in the level design. It's a very well made game and much thought has been put into all the details in the rooms and their layouts. Often I found myself (when not being ravaged) wandering the halls discovering life before death on Talos 1.
All in all I’m really impressed with Prey. The design, combat, exploration and story are all things you can tell have had much thought and deliberation over to ensure that what you play is how the developers wanted it to be. Any fan of Dishonored, Dead Space, Bioshock and just good FPSs in general should pick this up and delve into space and the depths of Talos 1.
Game purchased by 10lb Gamer with our
Prey is another benchmark in FPS history as a must play for those who are a fan of the genre. With inspirations from other incredible FPSs, it delivers a gripping story in a tense and, at times, genuinely scary world where nothing is known and everything is a deadly risk.
- Well designed and beautiful world
- Tactful combat where all weapons are of benefit
- Great fun exploring all the nooks and crannies of Talos 1
- Some reports of big bugs for the unlucky few