Prey Impressions: An Intelligent Sci-Fi Thriller

Game: Prey

Developer: Arkane Studios

Publisher: Bethesda

Reviewed: PC
Forget everything you know about the original Prey. Arkane’s new game is nothing at all like the original, and it’s better off for it. Untethered from the original, the new Prey can be best described as a first-person sci-fi thriller that combines all the best parts of Dead Space with System Shock 2 and Portal 2.

You play the role of Morgan Yu, an amnesiac scientist who wakes up with no knowledge the situation he’s in–the perfect entry point for any player. Much like Morgan, you’ll quickly acclimatize yourself to the terror of Talos-1.

Written by Chris Avellone, who penned Planescape: Torment and Fallout: New Vegas, Prey’s story plays out like a book, teasing you with interesting slices of story through audio logs, and e-mails composed by the game’s cast of characters. But the game does a lot more than that—borrowing from masterpieces like BioShock, the game’s wide, open environments tell as much of a story, if not more.

Each level is designed not as a linear, straightforward experience, but as open location with myriad places to traverse and secrets to uncover. I often found myself backtracking and returning to previous locations upon acquiring new tools and neuromods to access areas previously restricted not by locked doors (which do exist) but by creative obstacles that can, with enough intuitive thinking, be access very early on.

Heavy storage lockers that require Strength III to pick up blocking your way? Not a problem. Simply place an explosive next to them and shoot the bomb at a distance to knock them over. If you have a recycler grenade handy, it’ll clear the way. Alternatively, you could try looking for a vent filled with gas-leaking, flame-spewing pipes that you can seal with the GLOO Gun.

That’s not even mentioning what you can do with the variety of Psi powers you get later on in the game, which allow you to mimic objects the same way the enemies you face do, among other things.

Combat makes up a large portion of the gameplay, and it feels unwieldy if you’re trying to play it on a gamepad—so I recommend sticking to the mouse and keyboard and play it the way the developers intended.

With the control issues out of the way, your most common opponent will be the mimic, who take on the appearance of random objects in their proximity. If you notice two coffee mugs sitting on the same desk, there’s a good chance that one of them is going to be fake.

You can fight these creatures (and others) in a variety of ways—from shooting them at a distance with a pistol or shotgun while sneaking for extra damage, or freezing them in place with the GLOO Gun or some other means of disabling them before lunging in for the kill with the wrench. If your repair skill’s high enough, you can even set up kill zones using mobile turrets you can set up and lure tough enemies into their line of fire.

With only five hours in, the game offers a very promising start. I can’t wait to get through the rest of it.

If you’re still not convinced, check out our video about the five things you need to know about Prey.

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.