Games like Prey don’t do well those constantly living for tomorrows release.
Which is all of us… Right? Prey only came out May 2017. Feels more like 2007. Oh well…
… for those that missed out, here’s a handy recap.
BAMM! Prey is a first-person Sci-Fi shooter/adventure! WOW! You awake on the space station Talos 1 in the near future. NOW WITH 100% GENUINE COMPUTER GAME AMNESIA! There are secrets upon secrets and thankfully the amnesia turns out to be a stroke of brilliant story-telling. You pave your way through the.. hold on… POW! You pave your way through the station and I really mean it. There’s a gun that shoots goo to make makeshift vertical paths. KA-BOB!
You inhabit Morgan Yu, who tracks down some clues, to solve the stations mystery.
If I was you, I’d scream and whoop and kill for eventual victory.
Let wash all our hands, whilst saying “calm down” and end this synopsis rhyme.
Anyway, this is a game for a nice bit of bin rummaging and a lil’ bit of hoarding. Lovely. Also KA-POW-BOB-BAMM-ETC!
The game indicates for you to go left but if you’re anything like me. you’d turn right every time. Every time. Why walk through a convenient door when a convoluted vent will do. This open world demands your full attention and I’d forgive you for feeling initially overwhelmed with the freedom afforded to you. It is a well curated freedom but this is a game of systems to bend and hopefully break to your advantage.
Your location, Talos 1 makes sense. It feels like a living breathing space station and everything is where you’d expect, from the Bridge to the bins. The plot demands that you’ll revisit familiar locations and long before you’ve exhausted your stay Talos 1 will become your home. This station is Prey’s best feature. Unfortunately, the load times are one of Prey’s worst features as your eyes glaze over the longed out load screen. Your patience is rewarded as the game does a good job of leaving corpses and trinkets right where you left ’em. Makes the wait more palatable.
Naturally you’ll spend too much time peeking into microwaves and acquiring a surplus of pointless crud. Thankfully you can recycle everything into teeny-tiny useful “matter” to enable you to craft useful items to your hearts content. Found a medikit plan? You can use that matter to fabricate it, baby. It’s good to know that peeking through emails and lockers for tidbits doesn’t just reward you with flavour text. To compliment your pilfering adventures Prey has (mostly) a sedate pace, which also works wonders for the eventual horrors you’ll face. I mean, this is a derelict space station…. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t any murderous aliens.
Anyway, if you like surprises, you best turn away now before I go into detail. Sexy alien detail.
You enter a fairly innocuous room and you’re sure that cup moved. Aw well, it is a computer game. Physics go wrong all the time and you go about your business, as you lo- FUCKING HELL WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT as the cup morphs into a fucking face-hugger and lunges at your face! It puts you on edge for the rest of the game. Yes, you’ll learn to live with it, but the damage is done, even if these sneaky morphing bastards aren’t that deadly.
The standard power fantasy takes hold and soon you are a walkin’, talkin’ meatbag of incredible powers and these panics are somewhat diminished. That’s ok, as it’s the kinda trick can only work for a short while, but by then, you’re introduced to bigger worries. Like really big worries. The variety doesn’t let up and although you’ll become acquainted with the station, you won’t with Prey’s changeable nature.
It does a lovely job at keeping you on edge.
To pull off organic moments of “wotthefuckwasthat” you’ll need incredibly tricksy AI. A “mimic” will run across your vision, turn a corner and out of sight…. you’ll turn the corner and become weary of that bloody suspicious chair… *squint* but which one? Yes, the game is capable of making you weary of inanimate objects and if you truly succumb you’ll want to know more about your enemies.
So there you are, like a fool. waving a camera in the face of a murderous creature intent of slapping your nose of ya’ face, just to update your official alien records™ and more importantly… learn their weaknesses. This is genuinely useful knowledge. It’s rare I delve too deeply into such things, but I’d admit… I enjoyed digging deeper into this world.
Yes, I even read fake lore based in-game articles. Shocking.
Now… does the above image inspire dread?
The actual creatures that attack you are generally gooey blobs and we can all agree gooey blobs seldom inspire true terror. It’s a shame as Prey could have been one of the scariest game of all time. It feels like the developers held back, or had to hold back. Not everyone wants Cronenberg body horrors passing out free heart attacks. Not when you spent all that money on a AAA adventure shooter for the broad masses. Oh well.
You incorporate the powers of your ‘orrible enemies, craft tidy guns and you know… computer game stuff. Bigger challenges and bigger problems. The well crafted systems, AI and story keep things ticking along nicely and it all works extremely well.
By the end, when you’ve decided that you’ve done everything you want, you’re ready to leave it all behind.
To leave behind a great sense of accomplishment.
Games like Prey drop from the public conscious quickly, which is a shame because if you ever get round to playing it, you’ll likely remember it before writing small articles about how much you enjoyed it…
… right, that’s quite enough of that, anyway about that NEW GAME WITH THE ZOMBIES THAT EVERYONE’S PLAYING!