Prey is a first-person shooter, RPG game developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. This game is unrelated to the 2006 game of the same name, developed by Human Head Studios, and is simply a re-imagination with a completely different narrative. Arkane Studio’s version of Prey is essentially a spiritual successor to the game, System Shock, which provides players with multiple methods of progression throughout the game.
The game is set in an open world environment, in which players take on the role of Morgan Yu, a human exploring the space station, Talos I, where research is carried out into hostile aliens known as the Typhon. The key objective is survival and players must collect and utilise a variety of weapons and abilities, which are derived from the Typhon itself, to avoid being killed by the aliens.
Prey’s narrative is strong, with a stirring psychological opening sequence, and one which encourages players to continually make decisions, starting with Morgan’s gender, to progress through the game. This allows players to feel an element of control over the game, as each decision produces a cause and effect sequence, which affects the game’s story and results in multiple endings. These endings fall into three major narrative structures, which is dependant on how the player interacts with the space station and surviving humans.
Through interactive systems, plot twists and intriguing revelations, players are encouraged to revisit areas already explored, making the already large sandbox environment much more dense and all the more interesting, adding unique layers into the game’s narrative.
The universe is vast in Prey and is built on a rather interesting alternate reality concept where futuristic gadgetry like touch screen devices exist alongside old film projectors. Arkane Studios certainly did a fabulous job with creating a fantastic world filled with details to provide players a better understanding of the Talos I. This includes minute details such as audio logs and even emails, hinting to the kind of lives that people lived prior to the Typhon’s attack.
Playing the game certainly built up my level of paranoia as nothing is quite as it seems in the game. Several inanimate objects turned out to be shape shifting aliens, who jump out at you as soon as you come near, providing a notion of surprise and jump scares. Throughout the game’s entirety, players will begin to question almost everything within the game, particularly that of the reasons for why certain objects are located in weird locations.
What I enjoyed was the way in which Prey provides a degree of flexibility, with an open-world design which allows players to reach certain objectives in a number of different ways. This flexibility is largely dependent on the strengths and abilities that the player possesses, which means that there is a sense of enticement to play-through the game all over again once completed, through using different skills and abilities. However, while being able to utilise different abilities is exciting, it does take a good chunk of game time before players are able to utilise abilities, which can be frustrating.
The other factors which disappointed me somewhat about the game was the fact that the visuals weren’t all that spectacular and the weaponry, despite being set in a rather technologically advanced world, was standard, simple and dull.
Prey’s strong narrative, unique setting, hidden surprises and detailed environment made the game intriguing. The paranoia which ensues from exploring the Talos I adds tension and mystery to the game. This, along with an interesting story made Prey an enjoyable game to play, despite combat being rather lacklustre. It’ll be rather interesting to see what the game would be like during a play-through with different choices being made in game.