Prey is another great entry in the science fiction shooter genre with a story that tackles some dark experiments gone wrong while you have to survive through the nightmare of its aftermath. While the story is not exactly something that offers a fresh perspective on science fiction horror, it is executed brilliantly and together with the gameplay, provides an experience that shouldn’t be missed by those who enjoyed some of the cult classics like Bioshock and System Shock.
Prey begins with you taking control of a scientist, either a male or female depending on your choice. There is no customization option for the user character here although it is not like there was need for one here. The game has an excellent opening chapter that pits you in the shoe of Morgan Yu or his female counterpart, who is trying to train for a research team that is set to work for TranStar on Talos I. This is a fully operational research laboratory that orbits around the Earth’s moon and it was developed to protect the Earth against attacks from Alien species called the Typhon.
Prey is set in an interesting alternative timeline where the USA president John F. Kennedy has survived from his assassination attempt and works towards accelerating the USA Space program leading to progress in the Space Race. The Earth is then attacked by an Alien species called Typhon who have the ability to shape shift and transform into various forms. They are captured by the USA and then taken to Talos 1 for experimental purpose. However the USA is forced to abandon this station after a terrible accident befalls the scientist working on the station. Talos 1 is acquired by TranStar in 2025 who plan to use the knowledge of the Typon to create a set of genetically enhanced Neuromods for the Humans.
The game begins with such an experiment where the main character Morgan Yu is asked to perform his daily routine tests that are intended to prepare him for his work on Talos 1. However during his tests, the scientists are attacked by a Typhon leading to an outbreak while Morgan gets knocked out. As the story unfolds, it soon turns out that things are not what the may seem in the start and the story leads into plenty of surprise twists and turns as the main purpose of Talos 1 and its experiments are revealed.
Prey is a complete reboot and re-imaging of the original Prey which was another science fiction based first person shooter. It was released back in 2006 and a sequel was also planned for it, but it was sadly cancelled in 2013 leading to the current Prey reboot. While this Prey reboot aims to be a spiritual successor to System Shock 2, it carries the Prey IP mostly in name only and has nothing to do with its predecessors. This might be a good or bad thing depending on how much you are a fan of the original Prey.
The game features several inter-connected semi-open sections that are open to exploration for the player. You will be able to explore the whole Talos 1 including the outside of the station in the game while unlocking new abilities, discovering weapons and uncovering the secrets of the station. The world of Talos 1 is not exactly ideal to explore thanks to the Alien infestation and make no mistake, these Aliens are faster and efficient in killing the Humans making for a serious threat.
I was not a fan of the combat presented in the game, mainly because of the fast moving nature of the enemies that make it difficult to hit them, not to mention there was an input lag issue on the PS4 that makes it hard to aim. While the combat can be avoided for the most part, as you run away from enemy encounters, exploring Talos 1 is a rewarding process. The game offers full freedom in exploration and the hand-holding is kept at a minimum, which means it is easy to get lost in the game.
One of my disappointment with Prey was the lack of enemy variety. The most common type of enemies are the mimics which can transform into any material to fool the player and they usually surprise with an attack. However this trope gets old pretty quickly as you begin to discover their pattern. While this works well for the horror focused narrative, the lackluster combat often makes such encounter a chore. Thankfully the combat is still enjoyable because of the variety of weapons that can be used to dispose the Aliens. They are hidden throughout Talos 1 and some of them require extra work to be unlocked.
During your exploration of Talos 1 you will discover locked sections that will require a specific ability or item. You will have to locate Neuromods for this purpose which act like skill points that you can use to either enhance your stats and skills or unlock new abilities. Depending on your playstyle, you can focus on a specific section of the skill tree and while the game offers plenty of Neuromods, you will have to find them yourself which is only possible if you explore every nook and cranny in Talos 1.
Prey Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Prey is a first-person action-adventure video game developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game was released in May 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Prey is a bold entry in sci-fic genre of first person shooters that takes inspiration from classics like System Shock. Despite a lackluster combat system, the game offers plenty of exciting moments with its brilliantly designed inter-connected world of Talos 1 that is a joy to explore.