Prey

prey - cover

Once upon a time there was a game called Prey that was released in 2006. It flew under the radar and was only praised by hardcore gamers who praised it every chance they got. This seems to be the reason why a 2017 remake (not remastering) of the game came out. The 2006 Prey was by no means an awful game, it just wasn’t one of the more popular titles during that time period. The new Prey changes that with a very powerful story and great strategic elements implemented into each mechanic.

Prey is a FPS stealth-like game where you start off as either a male or female protagonist by the name of M. Yu (yes, you get to choose). You are aboard the Talos I ship (spoiler?) that is covered with Typhon-infected enemies. You are unsure of what is happening but you quickly discover that you need to make a lot of life and death decisions as you progress. You meet a lot of characters along the way, both human and robotic. Your objective is simple: survive and figure out what is going on aboard the Talos I.

Prey is a “play your own style” type of experience. You can either run-and-gun or stay low and out of the way (or even a mix of both). You set the pace and the game just follows your moves. Your play-style will definitely depend on the difficulty level you choose (Easy to Nightmare). The easier difficulties allow for a more freedom-of-choice experience, where the harder difficulties make you choose wisely or else you pay the price with a lot of deaths. This style of play is reminiscent of Deus Ex and compliments it very well.

prey - intro

Prey is a game of exploration and discovery. You will find yourself forgetting the main objective and trying to collect and listen to everything the game has to offer. Much like Resident Evil, locked doors are abundant and you will do anything and everything to find a way to get into them. Sometimes you will find yourself backtracking just because you picked up a keycode/keycard for a room or safe you found way earlier. This is entirely engaging in the best kind of way.

The exploration does not stop there though. You pick up a lot of items along the way. These items can either be junk, ammo, food, weapons, and a lot more. As you explore the ship, you find recyclers (breaks items down into materials) and Fabricators (turns materials into useful weapons, ammo, health kits, grenades, etc.). You make the decision on what you think is important for your journey. You can dismantle weapons into parts, recycle items into materials, and fabricate those items to what you need as long as you have the necessary materials. It works quite well.

Prey controls like your typical FPS minus aiming down the sight of the weapon. You will find yourself using the wrench a majority of the time because ammo for your guns can become scarce and you only want to use your guns on certain enemies that are in your way (if you want to even use them at all during your playthrough). The weapon use and movement feels a lot like Skyrim/Dishonored with slow moving actions but it is enough to plan out what you need to do beforehand.

Speaking of planning, Prey is all about how you are going to play out the next encounter. You can go in guns-a-blazing or work your way around without ever being spotted. With a large arsenal at your disposal (weapons and grenades) you can plot out exactly what you need to do before advancing. See a slew of robots floating your way? Throw an EMP grenade and disable them so you can make your way around safely. See a couple mimics walking around? Slow down time, throw a nullifying grenade, and easily destroy them with your wrench from behind. The choices you want to make are aided by a weapon wheel that you can bring up with a simple hold of a button and a selection of a tool you want to use. This wheel makes it easy to heal, choose a tool, and replenish your Psi (like mana for slowing down time or mimicking objects). There are so many choices you can make, it all depends on your play style.

prey - gameplay

The only real complicated element of Prey is adjusting to all the stats you can upgrade. You have your main health, your suit health and your Psi mana. All of these can be upgraded through a tree, which is seen in almost every game nowadays. You have the option to upgrade Scientist, Engineering, Security, Energy, Morph and Telepathy. There is a ton to upgrade in this game. You can upgrade your health, inventory space, Psi pool, hacking, leverage, repair, sneaking, speed, mindjack, mimic, and a whole lot more. It is actually difficult to choose what you want to upgrade because you end up running into obstacles that you wish you would have spent your last neuromods on. By the way, neuromods are the items that you need to collect in order to upgrade your abilities and stats. They are all over the place and can eventually be fabricated but they take a lot of materials to make. There are also chipsets that you collect to upgrade your abilities, weapons, physcoscope (ability to scan enemies and get detailed strength/weakness information), material gains, resistance, etc. There is actually so much that you can upgrade that the decisions become a headache. You will want to do one thing, but need to spend the neuromods on another thing. Even the chipsets are limited by what you unlock from the tree to give you more chipset space. Fortunately, like any other game, you will get used to how everything works together but it may take a bit longer than you are used to.

Enemies are another interesting topic in Prey. There are few enemies at the beginning and they come aplenty towards the end. It seems that the more that you progress, the more enemies spawn in previous locations. This makes sense in terms of the storyline and how it is presented to you. You have your basic mimics who crawl around and jump at you. They are easily disposed of with the right combination. The Phantoms are human-shaped enemies that can teleport around and can come in multiple different forms such as normal, electric and fire. Depending on their form, you need to strategize your tool usage against them. Weavers are difficult to deal with because they can control your mind and make you useless at times. They act as a type of mini-boss in the game because of how difficult they are. I won’t spoil all the enemy types but I will mention that there is one specific enemy that will haunt your dreams, literally. The enemies are actually fun to deal with for the most part. Learning their weaknesses through the psychoscope and adjusting your strategy dependent on what you learn makes the experience that much more engaging.

prey - environment

I did run into one almost game breaking bug in the game. It had to do with a mission where you had to find a tech officer. Apparently, the tech officer could spawn in one of four places on the ship. One of those places could even be on the exterior of the ship (which is a whole different gameplay experience on its own). Guess which one I got my first time through? Exterior. The waypoint directs you where to go for a majority of the game and you are allowed to derail yourself from the main storyline and do side quests at your leisure. Well, that is exactly what I did during this quest to find the tech officer and all of a sudden I wanted to return to the main story and the waypoint would never show up. Think of it this way: you are on the outside of an enormous ship and you have to find one singular object that is small in size without the aid of where it is at all. This could take hours. Luckily, I had a previous save and I could load from when the waypoint was on the screen. Lucky me. Not so lucky for others.

The highlight of the game is surprisingly the story. Even though not as engaging as Horizon: Zero Dawn (my current game of the year), Prey kept me wanting more. The mystery surrounding Talos I and why M. Yu was placed on this ship. Listening to all the audio logs and reading the notes/emails/books left by the other crew members helps keep the player engaged at all times. You feel for these people and you want to do what you can do to help them (or not help them if that’s your prerogative).

In the end, Prey is worth your time. It tells a great story, has a “play your way” game style, let’s you strategize every encounter and leaves you wanting to go back and try the experience in a different way. The game isn’t a top contender for GOTY but it definitely shows some improvements from the previous iteration. Wait for a price drop and go check this game out.

~~Fredd Eyles~~

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