Bethesda’s reinterpretation of the first-person shooter, Prey, is out! Come inside to find out if Bethesda has another hit on their hands or if it’s one that can be forgotten with our official review!
Mystery and Paranoia Reign Supreme
Prey opens up similar to the way Bethesda presented it when they revealed it during their E3 Press Conference in 2016. You’re Morgan Yu, whether you’re male or female depends on you, waking up in your apartment in, what looks to be, future San Francisco. When you wake up, you discover that Morgan has previously decided to hop aboard Talos I with his brother, Alex, to help change the world. After going through the mandatory testing, you soon discover that everything is not as it seems. Morgan is already aboard Talos I, which has been infested with a black symbiote, set on destroying mankind.
That’s the generalized version of what is a pretty quick campaign. Most speed-gamers have been able to conquer the game anywhere from 10-30 minutes, mainly because they didn’t spend time getting distracted by checking every computer and room for survivors or loot. If you’re a normal-speed gamer, like myself, Prey can feel like it takes a while to pick up. That’s mainly due to all the levels that attempt to slowly take the training wheels off, with new weaponry and skills that don’t progress the story much.
The motivation for the story is mainly produced by mystery and just plain fear. A bad case of amnesia has wiped Morgan’s mind so finding out what the aliens are and who you are, for that matter are key. It’s extremely reminiscent of the first Bioshock, in that case. You’re on a futuristic station with enemies that can pop out of nowhere attacking you. You upgrade using Neuromods that give you an assortment of abilities like hacking and repairing. Prey = Bioshock in Space, but without the daddy issues.
Prey does achieve what it sets out to do, jump-scare the pants off of you. They do this with the minor enemies called Mimics. Mimics can transform into any object Morgan walks by on his journey. If you’re not looking, you could miss their transformation, but you’ll definitely hear it as a loud ring blasts overhead when they’re nearby. It causes the gamer to stay on their toes and progress through the game that much slower, in order to survive.
Mimics aren’t the only problem, though. These mysterious creatures grow stronger in level, even maintaining human forms, like the Phantom. They can even shoot energy or blast fire underneath you. Despite being on normal difficulty, these enemies are crafty and are capable of killing you in any manner of ways. It takes a lot of Neuromods, upgraded weaponry, and stealth to take care of most of them.
Load Screens from Hell; Save Not Guaranteed
Probably the most frustrating part of the Arkane Studios game are the load screens. When you start the game, when you enter another level the game stops and an uninteresting load screen appears. While an uninteresting load time wouldn’t normally be an issue, it’s compounded with the fact that the loading, itself, takes FOREVER. In the time it took for the load screen to finish, I was able to walk to the kitchen, make a sandwich, and watch a little of the NBA Playoffs. I understand the need for load screens. Developing a game isn’t easy and sometimes certain technology holds you back, but at least give the gamer something to enjoy while they wait. Otherwise, gamers will get fatigued with the wait and not want to come back.
If Loading Screens are the worst of it, saving is the runner up. I previously mentioned how easy it is to die in Prey. Well, when that happens, you are given the option to either return to the last save or open a different save point. If you’re not manually saving regularly, it could cause you to lose most of the work you’ve already done. I learned that the hard way one too many times. I assumed that the game saved for you when you walked into a certain room, almost like a hidden checkpoint. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case. In a new level, sure you get an automatic save, but not in every room. So, if you die and haven’t saved for 20 minutes, you’re likely starting over from the entrance to that level.
Arkane’s Signature Picturesque Graphics
In addition to mystery and jump-scares, the other feature Prey has going for it is the gorgeous art-style. That style you came to love in Dishonored is sent several years into the future with Prey. From the coffee cup to planet Earth and the moon in the distance, it’s noticeable just how much time Arkane Studios spent on the graphics for Prey. It’s definitely one of the best parts of the game.
One of my favorite parts was early in the game when Morgan is traveling to the facility for testing, it’s gorgeous how they re-created the world and it’s even cooler when you see it again, later on. There is a moment when you see how it was done, that was truly impressive. I believe the art department did an incredible job with Prey.
The Devil is in the Details
Details, details, details. Details are very important in a game like Prey. You could speed through the game, roll credits, and never play it again. Or you could read every book, scroll through every email, and open every desk to discover the secrets Talos I has to hold. It’s a pretty standard gaming technique, when you have a campaign that’s beatable in 30 minutes, but it provides a cool way to experience the game.
For instance, I read as many books as possible and I learned a ton in Prey. Granted, it may not all be true but darn it I think I know how they make imitation crab. Moreover, reading every email allows you to understand what each person was going through, leading up to the infestation, and somewhat feel for the poor sods. You’re also able to find side-missions by reading consoles that help you on your way to discovering the truth.
Plus, if you’re looking for everything, you’ll discover interesting details like JFK not being assassinated. It helps to thicken the mysterious plot that is Prey.
Slow Movement in Space, Slower Moving Game
Overall, Prey is an alright game. It’s not the type of game that will leave you breathless, but it can be a thrilling experience, if you let it. By let it, I mean have patience through all the slow parts. At its core, Prey is just a slow game. With all the side-quests that make you go back and forth between levels and slow load screens, it’s impossible to complete the game in a quick fashion. Sure, you can get through the story fairly quickly, if you set your mind to it, but most gamers aren’t like that. If Prey were just a hair quicker, it would be a much better game. It’s got everything you’d want. Mystery, paranoia, cool and interesting weapons that need to be upgraded before you can really do any damage, and it’s in outer space. The problem is most attention spans aren’t long enough to wait for it all to come together.