Imagine if Dishonored, Bioshock and Deus Ex had a baby. That is my first impression of Arkane Studio’s new game, Prey.
Prey is eerie, fun, mysterious and the right kind of creepy. I like it, I like it a lot. After playing Prey from the start, I am finding myself daydreaming about the game. I want to play more, I want to find out more about what is happening in that world and I want it now. With that in mind, I’m super excited to share the things I liked most about my time with Prey.
There’s minor plot spoilers ahead, but again this is only about the first hour or so of the game, so nothing too major.
The first part of the game has you choose between a male or female character, who is called Morgan Yu regardless of choice. The characters are designed uniquely enough that it doesn’t feel like someone just slapped long hair on the male character and called them a woman, which I think is really important. After Arkane’s 2016 hit, Dishonored 2, where you could play as a male or female character, I definitely hoped for this feature and I’m glad it’s been included.
Oh wow, this game is pretty. Waking up in Morgan’s apartment, looking out of the window in the gorgeous bay area (which turns out to all be fake, but more on that in a second) and the attention to detail, it’s very inviting. Eventually you realize that it’s all a sham and you literally break the illusion with a wrench, revealing a laboratory where you’ve been tricked and studied.
I was genuinely impressed with how the developers blended the grim, destroyed lab with the illusion of a sunny vista. I was so immersed in the game that I genuinely got a little bit annoyed when I saw that the helicopter ride I took over the city was just a simulation and decided to smash all the windows I could. The art style is very detailed as well, with a heavy emphasis on darker colours to illustrate the cold and eerie space station in which the game is set.
Prey has some pretty great jump-scare moments, this is mainly due to the enemies, known as Mimics. These things basically redefine what it means to be paranoid, because they can take the shape of just about anything. If you have played Prop Hunt, then you’ll probably be used to checking every object out of paranoia, but if not, then prepare to be startled.
Killer coffee mugs? Yup! Dangerous chairs? Indeed! If you can see it, there’s a good chance it could quickly morph into a black gooey monster and try to murder you. Because of this, I spent a good chunk of my time with the game randomly beating inanimate objects just to be sure. Walking into a room, looking around and seeing all the possible things that could be an enemy – it’s creepy stuff. I would be lying if I said I didn’t get startled a few times, particularly by the chairs.
The mimics are fast, wild and hard to predict. They can burst out of inanimate object form, attack you, then quickly take the shape of something else incredibly fast. It’s a really unique enemy that changes the way you play the game and I can’t wait to see the bigger, badder more terrifying enemies in action.
What’s a game with great enemies if you don’t have a great way to beat them? Thankfully, Prey has some really cool weapons. During my playthrough, I only found the shotgun and the GLOO cannon, as well as a wrench. The wrench is your staple weapon, but it has a stamina bar that if used too much, will require a cool down for a few seconds before you can start swinging again.
The GLOO cannon was easily the standout for me, because it’s basically just a marshmallow launcher that freezes enemies and allows for you to build ways to climb just about anything. I am a big fan of the not-quite lethal gun, like the Portal gun, Gravity gun and anything from Splatoon. The GLOO cannon is definitely up there with the rest of them. Freezing Mimics is a lot of fun, as well as just randomly firing it at walls and seeing how far you can climb.
THE NEUROMODS AND CRAFTING SYSTEMS
I didn’t get much time with either of these systems, but from what I did see, I’d say this is where it becomes more about how you as an individual want to play. The neuromods will be particularly interesting to fans of the Dishonored and Bioshock franchises as it is a very similar system to what those games provide. You will upgrade Morgan using these mods to suit your play style. I chose hacking and strength ability mods to start with because there was limited mods to choose from in the preview, but I have seen footage of a bunch of other neuromods that allow you to use the Mimic’s abilities like turning into a mug for example or setting enemies on fire.
Ultimately I think this feature will define each player’s experience and make the experience very unique. The crafting system reminds me a little bit of Destiny and No Man’s Sky in that you break down objects in order to get resources to make other objects using the Recycler. There are a few of these floating around it seems, and though my time was limited with this feature I definitely get the sense it’ll be something worth exploring in the full release. I’m hoping that you’ll be able to craft unique items and weapons and will be rewarded for taking extra time trying to find certain materials.
My time with Prey was short, too short. I already want more. Arkane Studios have set the stage for another really special game. The whole time I was playing Prey, getting vibes from elements of games like Half Life 2, Doom, Dishonored, Deus Ex, Prop Hunt and Bioshock, all amazing games in their own right, without it feeling like a copy. That’s pretty amazing. Prey adds some really new and exciting themes to the FPS genre, including enemies that can be just about anything in the game and the GLOO Cannon. With these exciting new elements, I simply can’t way for the full game to come out in just a few short months.
Prey will release on PS4, Xbox One and PC on May 5th.