Yesterday saw the release of Prey, the latest game from Dishonored developer Arkane Studios, and yet, you probably haven’t seen too many full reviews. Well, there’s a reason for that. Recently Bethesda has made it a policy to not send out advance copies, saying they want reviewers to experience their games alongside the public. That policy hasn’t changed with Prey, so I was only able to start playing late Thursday evening.
I wouldn’t say I’ve played enough of Prey to render my full verdict yet, but I have sunk around eight hours into the adventure, and have a pretty good feel for what it offers. So, here’s a few impressions based on my incomplete playthrough of the game. Get a feel for what Prey is all about before our full, scored review!
Prey (PC, Xbox One, and PS4)
Prey begins with a fairly standard sci-fi setup. You play as either a male or female Morgan Yu, who’s been recruited by their brother to join the research team aboard the moon-orbiting space station, Talos I. What are they researching on this space station? Weird, shape-shifting aliens called the Typhon! Unsurprisingly, the Typhon break free and plunge the station into death and chaos.
Very little about Prey’s setup or setting is particularly original or interesting, and the game’s main character is a total blank slate. The game does serve up a couple twists early on, but they aren’t particularly mind-blowing. You know something dark is happening on Talos I, because something dark is always happening in these sorts of tales. Prey could have been more accurately titled “Arkane Studios Presents: A Generic Sci-Fi Story.”
As for Prey’s gameplay, well, it also sticks closely to established templates. It’s a first-person action game, with some stealth elements, item crafting, and a branching skill tree. Just like most triple-A games these days. The two main areas Prey attempts to innovate in, are its enemies and its wide variety of weapons and abilities.
The enemies are, honestly, kind of a flop. While the Typhon are fast and deadly, they aren’t terribly intimidating. Based on its sound design, I get the sense the makers Prey wanted their game to be scarier than it is. Since all the Typhon look like similar black, indistinct masses, they get familiar very quickly. They’re also not that hard to take down. Despite their shape-shifting abilities, you can still clonk most enemies to death with your standard melee weapon without much trouble.
The game’s weapons and abilities are more interesting, although I admit, I still don’t have that many of them at this point. I’ve just recently gained the ability to unlock Typhon powers, so I haven’t had the chance to do much Dishonored-style mixing and matching yet. I would have liked if Prey had given me more powers and weapons sooner – as is, I’ve spend most of my time with the game dispatching challenges with a wrench, standard 9mm pistol, and the plastic-cement-shooting GLOO Gun. The last of those items is pretty cool, but otherwise, not the most exciting inventory of stuff.
Thus far Prey’s level design has been solid, with the game giving off a strong Deus Ex vibe. Progress tends to be a bit of a grind, with most missions requiring several steps that will keep you tied to certain locations. Don’t expect to be running all over Talos I as you please – at least not early on. Thankfully, Prey does provide some room for creativity, as most objectives can be completed several different ways.
Unfortunately, there will also be times you’ll feel somewhat trapped by Prey, as the game tends to lock you into areas without access to health, ammo, and other items, which need to be created at crafting stations. There’s almost always a way to get out of whatever situation you’re in, but sometimes rigging up a solution can be annoying. Pro tip: Preserve your GLOO Cannon ammo, because it can get you out of a lot of frustrating spots.
Based on my experience so far, Prey is solidly-constructed, but ultimately rather bland adventure, lacking much of a personality and verve of Arkane’s Dishonored titles. I suspect that may change as I play deeper into the game, as Prey’s diverse array of weapons and abilities are really its main selling point. Maybe I’ll be able to award some extra style points once I get my hands on some new toys, but for now, Prey is preying on my patience just a little.
You can look forward to WWG’s full Prey review later this week.
These impressions are based on a PS4 copy of Prey provided by Bethesda.