Game review: Prey

This is the second coming of Prey. The first Prey game was released just over a decade ago in 2006 on PC and Xbox 360, was generally well received critically and sold well, and as a result a sequel was planned and started development. Sadly this was stuck in development hell facing constant delays after the intellectual property rights had been acquired by ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda, id software and a number of other studios, and eventually cancelled in 2014.

Happily however development restarted afresh and the end result is the game we see here, referred to by Arkane studio, the developer, as the spiritual successor to system shock, one of the most revered games in the history for its complex game play, themes, physics and 3d engine.

Let us start at the beginning, Prey is set on Space station Talos 1 – the back story of which is can be found in detail at the following link:

You wake up in your flat and fly to a research lab to conduct a series of tests. The scientists who are administering the tests suddenly get attacked and you are knocked unconscious. You wake again in your apartment, and appears that all is well, however upon exiting your flat again the previously alive maintenance man working in the corridor is dead and alarms are blaring. It turns out your flat, the journey and the lab you were in are all a simulated environment and in fact your on a space station 3 years after the date stated at the beginning of the game. It turns out you have been experimenting with devices called neuromods for the last 3 year, which have the side affect of memory loss. It turns out the Typhon, mentioned in the above video, have escaped and killed nearly everyone else. Now the proverbial poo has hit the proverbial fan and you need to survive/save the day. But also not all is as it seems……

The developer, Arkane Studio, has a short but solid history of work, most famous of which are the Dishonored games. The news they were developing Prey was a plus but it was also met with some trepidation from the PC community. For Dishonored 2 Arkane used their own Void game engine, which upon the games release had serious issues on PC’s. Whilst visually it was very good, there were issues with crashing when starting the game and huge frame rate drops and a few random quirks to do with settings. These issues were rapidly addressed by Arkane with a few patches specifically for the PC version, but still it did feel yet again that play testing for the PC version was not as thorough as it had been for consoles and issues not found.

Arkane obviously took the criticism to heart and Prey has been constructed using the very capable and reliable Cryengine 5, and carried out a large amount of play testing and quality control. The game is very stable with high frame rates and appears to be no glitches so far.

The graphics are very good and the environment is built in a manner so that you can and should go back to previous parts of the space station, initially there are areas that are inaccessible to you, but later on, with new abilities, they open up to you. Prey is a game that really rewards those who explore and pay attention to detail. The best advice I can give is that you should read everything, and not just emails and tablets that you would normally find, information such as a safe combinations can be found on white boards. You find these little details really reinforce the notion that this was a living dynamic place of research cut short suddenly by an unfortunate incident.

There are multiple different endings to the game, and the ending will be affect how you played the game. There are a few survivors still left and who can be helped or left to die/kill them, and it is these decisions you make and how you choose to complete the final mission which determine the ending you will get.

One area I would criticise in the game is the feel of the guns – this not being a first person shooter as its primary game play point does come into this aspect and its partially forgivable. However even the shotgun feels underwhelming, which I think is partially down to Arkane studio not having much experience with first person shooters style games, or certainly not any as the primary developer. It is a small quibble but it does detract from the experience to be an constance annoyance.

Prey is a very good game, as a story and exploration experience Arkane have hit the nail on the head with it. I can highly recommend you go buy it and play. I think it also is great value for money as the multiple ways you can approach the game means it will be worth replaying multiple times.





Author: Jon, Cardiff Store