Good morning, Morgan. It’s time for Prey. Prey is the latest block buster title developed by Arkane Studios, with it being published by Bethesda Softworks. It has been predicted, for quite some time now, to become one of the biggest and best games of the year but does it live up to that hype? Let’s find out.
I will attempt to keep this as spoiler free as possible.
Within the first 30 minutes of the game you can’t help but begin to think “Is this what would happen if Half-life and Alien: Isolation made sweet, sweet love before popping out a love child 9 months later?” It just has a very similar vibe to both of those games.
You awake to the words “Good Morning, Morgan” and you, Morgan Yu, climb out of bed to a beautiful view of ‘the city’ that you live in. What follows is one of the most creative opening title sequences and tutorials of any modern day game. You receive a call to say that there is a helicopter on the roof, just put on your suit and head on up there. Simple instructions and you have no reason to do other-wise. If you’re like me you attempt to open the large glass doors to walk outside and get a better view but you soon find out that they are “jammed” and your efforts are in vain. So you do as the instructions said, put on your suit and go up to the roof passing by a worker in the hallway of your apartment block. Yu (get it?) climb into the helicopter and are taken across the city to the testing lab area. The journey there is the opening titles, with the developers names plastered in as the architecture of the city with the title visible out of your window as you land. It really is very beautifully done.
The testing area is where you continue learning the controls. Yu (I’m going to keep spelling it like that now so get used to it) are put into a series of rooms where it is your job to perform a series of remedial tasks in front of a team of scientists. This is just an elaborate way to learn the basic movement controls and it puts a really interesting spin on to the usual ‘press e to interact’ ‘use wasd to move around’ ‘press delete to skip the tutorial’ ‘press enter if you’re sure you want to skip the tutorial’ ‘press enter followed by your date of birth if you’re sure that you’re sure that you want to skip the tutorial’.
At the end of your testing there is a slight ‘technical issue’ which causes you to go night night. You then awake to the same “Good Morning, Morgan”. However this time, your day goes slightly different. Yu receive a different call, this time from a stranger named January who tells Yu that Yu have to leave. Okay, I’ll stop with the Yu pun now, it’s even annoying me. This is the point where I stop talking you through the story as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone but let it be known that there are some real Truman Show vibes occuring. You will soon be informed all about the Mimics and then from there, your real journey begins.
Game play (this part might get a little spoilery)
Prey is played as a first person, immersive, horror game. Although, to be completely honest, I didn’t find it all that scary. There are quite a few jump scares in it but you can see most of them coming. It isn’t like Outlast who’s sole purpose is to scare you. In fact I would say that most of the jump scares disappear if you have any experience playing prop hunt as 90% of them come from mimics jumping out at you from the objects that they’re hiding as. I found that a lot of the scare aspect is taken away when you walk into a room and see an object moving. This prompts you to be on your guard and avoid anything that you see two of.
Please don’t get the wrong idea though, I’m not trying to trash Prey; quite the opposite is true. I found it to be really interesting even though I didn’t find it all that scary. You soon find out that Morgan has the ability to also take on the appearance of random objects in the same way that the mimics do which can make for some real cat and mouse game play. Players can choose to hide as objects to avoid detection by mimics or can take a real gung-ho approach by becoming a motorised turret to rain hell upon the shadow looking sons of … Well you get the idea.
Throughout Prey you encounter Neuromods. These are what give you the ability points to level Morgan up and increase his/her skills in certain areas. You can choose upgrades from three paths; Scientist, Security or Engineer. Each of them can be used to change the way that you play the game.
One thing that did annoy me a little bit was the soundtrack. It isn’t bad, in fact some of the tunes (particularly during the helicopter ride) are great. My issue is that the volume seems to be kind of all over the place. You will just be merrily walking along to very feint sound effects then out of nowhere noises will just start to build. Obviously it’s to build an atmosphere but it gets to the point where I have to turn my game volume down as I can’t hear myself think. After that, when it does start to quieten down again I can’t heard the feint sound effects to stroll along to so I have to adjust my volume again. It may only be a small thing but it does get a little irritating.
I would recommend that anyone who does buy the game has a quick read through the controls. On the PC game especially my tip would be that you can use ‘Z’ to zoom in and tag enemies. This isn’t something that is explained in the tutorial and I just happened to find it by chance. It can be really useful if you’re trying to track your enemies to sneak through an area that they’re in.
I really enjoyed Prey, I have already put in 30 hours to it which means that I haven’t really done anything else all weekend but I feel like I could quite easily pick it back up and play it again. The gameplay mechanics, whilst not being completely original (prop hunt), are very refreshing to see in a game of this size and work seamlessly in the Prey world. I never encountered any bugs either which is really impressive for a day one release PC port of any game. I have heard of people who’s games crashed whenever they changed the area that they were in but it was never something that I encountered.
It certainly had one of the best introduction sequences and most creative tutorials of any game I’ve played recently so it gets extra points for creativity. As a game overall, it is beautifully well made and immersive from the first minute to the last.