Prey (2017) Review

Image via Prey Official Steam Page

Prey is one of those titles that has undergone several different changes in its history. For starters, when the game initially came out back in 2006, it was a hit for completely different reasons. The story followed native American descendant named Tommy and his grandfather and girlfriend who are abducted by aliens. The ship, only known as The Sphere, keeps itself alive by consuming different organic and inorganic materials from Earth, prompting Tommy to take it down.

Part of what made this game so successful was the gameplay which included the idea of using portals to get from place to place (similarly to Portal), the use of realistic gravity, and Tommy’s ability to detach his spirit from his body in order to complete different tasks. It was so popular, that talks immediately began of making a sequel. Unfortunately, this direct sequel never happened.

Fast forward almost a decade later and the IP is picked up by Bethesda with Arkane Studios at the helm of its development. The story that comes of this is a completely new one with some of the same elements that made fans fall in love with it in the first place. This time around, you play as Morgan Yu, one of the executives aboard a space station known as Talos I, in a future where John F. Kennedy was never assassinated and America went through with earlier space travel. On the station, an outbreak of alien organic matter, known as the Typhon, breaks loose and begins to kill members aboard the ship. Morgan’s position within Talos I has something to do with the outbreak, and so he created an AI of his memories to walk him through destroying the ship when the time was right.

So, I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts on it after picking it up on Game Pass and absolutely falling in love with it.

Incredible and Interactive Storytelling

One of my favorite things about Prey is its storytelling. As a whole, the main story isn’t incredibly complicated and is actually pretty straightforward. Everything else, on the other hand, is primarily told through emails and sticky notes that are left around. As you progress, you find out that your memory has essentially been altered and a former version of yourself gave you the means to destroy the ship that you’re on, Talos I as a result of the Typhon outbreak. As you do this, the computers, keycards, sticky notes, and more that you can find indicate just about every side quest and secret you can find.

In some cases, these quests are actually set up to give you the option to make some sort of a decision that determines the fate of everyone on Talos I These decisions normally involve rescuing crew members, killing traitors, trusting the version of yourself that wants to destroy Talos I, or even just escaping altogether.

The fact that you’re given free will to roam anywhere that isn’t locked, so long as you have the means to be able to enter an area, everything was free game. Were you able to level up your strength to be able to carry the desk that’s covering a door that you don’t really need to be in until later on in the game? That’s great. Now, grab the keycard inside, read the emails on the computer, and save whatever items or quests you get until you’re able to complete them.


You’re Really Allowed to Play Your Way

As I mentioned above, you’re allowed to create Morgan to be the character you genuinely want him to be. No, Prey isn’t necessarily about making the most moral choices for the sake of those on Talos I. It’s more about doing the things you need to do to stop the Typhon outbreak, but it’s up to you as a player to decide on how you do it.

These choices are also based on the abilities that you upgrade yourself with as your progress. Not only will you have the abilities that are already pretty well known of Arkane games like hacking, strength, and so on, there are more. Because Morgan helped in the study of the Typhon, he also has the ability to learn and upgrade abilities based on their power. Utilizing these powers has repercussions of their own, since having too much Typhon material in your system starts to make sentient machines on the ship think you are one of them.

However, if that’s how you want to play, then that’s how you want to play. You will also find materials all over the ship that can be used to create as many items as you find blueprints for. That also means that if you need to sacrifice something in your inventory for whatever reason because you know you can just build it at a fabricator later, then so be it. In fact, I found myself constantly using the recycler to destroy the weapons I had because I needed them to create a neuromod that would allow me to do something to make gameplay easier.

Without spoiling anything, I’d like to say that there are more doors that you can open with the boltcaster than you might think there are.


Everything Was Stunning to Look At

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise because Arkane Studios is well known for their environmental design. Not only was the interior of the Talos I exactly what I would have expected if you had verbally explained the story to me, but they also did not miss when it came to being out in the open space. Many areas of the ship have airlocks for you to explore the outside of Talos I with. With this comes the revelation that there are many dead crewmates just floating around as well as several hull breaches that forced doors within the ship to have to shut down for safety purposes.

As I had explained above, the narrative is widely built on exploration, and making every aspect of the game explorable definitely does the trick. Prey doesn’t utilize markers or different colored emblems to notify players of when something can be interacted with or something is hidden. It’s up to you to want to do that for yourself. In creating a visually beautiful world, the developers essentially trick us into wanting to move and interact with everything just to see what might come of it.

My only real complaint about the visuals, as normal with this studio, is the design of any of the humans that you meet. While I can’t say much as I am not a developer, Prey was very bland with character design. Everyone’s clothing was some sort of uniform, so the focus was mainly on facial and body structure. Even then characters tend to look the same, and, frankly, very boring if they aren’t important to the overall story.


Great Pacing and Game Length

Some might disagree with me and say that the longer the game, the better it is. I don’t always believe in that, and Prey is a great example. I spent a little over 100 hours with this game, but more so because I enjoyed exploring, finding every weapon I could, and reading every email on Talos I. However, the main story is only about sixteen hours.

The story was paced to seem like it wouldn’t be the longest ride ever, which made wanting to do the side objectives exciting. I knew that at any moment, I could go to the main story, which I only did if I couldn’t progress with any of the side quests I currently had. Even though much of the game required you to backtrack to previous areas, no objective felt like it was too long-winded or not really worth doing because while Talos I is massive, it isn’t so big that getting to different locations is a real chore.

Thinking like that, I knew that I could finish the game whenever I wanted, which never put me in a headspace of being bored or tired. In fact, the exact opposite would happen, and I would be more excited than every to find a new location, a living crew mate, or to fill up empty map space rather than finish the game.


I’m Definitely Jumping into the DLC

I didn’t think it would happen, but Prey has become my most liked game that I’ve played this year. Just about everything about it drew me in, and left me wanting more. I tried to jump into Deathloop right afterwards, to try and get more Arkane goodness, but just couldn’t. I was too spoiled by what Prey had given me.

Considering that, my personal verdict shouldn’t be too surprising with all the praise I’ve given it. Prey might be the best Arkane title I’ve played yet, and the only one to have really pulled me into wanting to play the DLC.


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This game was reviewed on PC.

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