Finally – I know. I’ve been behind on my writing due to vacations and work changes and…and…and. But. I finally have finished Prey and, more importanly, my review. Much of my experience with Prey hasn’t changed much since I played through the demo, so head over and read my first look…first.
Or skip it, whatever works…
Beyond the first section of the game which was playable in the demo, the game evolves as you would expect it to. You’re introduced to new enemies, powers, and areas to explore as the mysterious story unfolds.
The game play remains solid throughout, with controls that feel very familiar, especially if you played games like Bioshock or Dishonored, which allow the play two kinds of attacks (magic and guns). Exploring the environments was, and still is, one of my favorite things to do in Prey. I find myself taking an hour or two just to work my way through a section of an area, searching for loot, story items, and interesting ways to traverse the environment.
There is not a ton of variety in the enemies, but that isn’t all bad. When you go into a fight with the enemies, you know what you’re about to deal with for the most part. It’s enough variety to prevent it from feeling overly repetitive. I do enjoy the variety in how to approach the enemies. There are a lot of ways to attack (guns, GLOO/wrench, alien) the Typhon in the game. Scanning and researching them is the best way to find their weaknesses and strengths. Also, this opens up the alien abilities that you can apply via Neuromods.
The alien powers are definitely the highlight of the upgrades you can apply to your character. Sure, it’s cool to be able to lift and throw heavy things, but being able to disguise yourself as a coffee mug or teleport 10 meters away from an enemy are was more fun to play with.
Some of the best moments of the game, for me, showed up as unexpected interactions with the environment. You do something without thinking much about it (say, listen to a recording of a musical performance in a bar) and the world reacts (aliens come running) in a way that, after the fact, makes total sense but in the moment is startling and unexpected. It did cost me my life a few times but once it was over, I was eager to use that reaction to my advantage and that made the experience all the more enjoyable.
As far as the story goes, as I said in the first look, it is setup in a standard Bethesda/Sci-Fi way. It’s unclear what is going on in the beginning, but you know early on that it’s bad. It unravels really nicely and I was constantly thinking about who I should or shouldn’t trust as I learned more and more about the main story. While a few of the side quests are a little shallow, most of them provide a decent incentive to complete and typically feel complimentary of the main storyline.
Overall the story is well written and compelling throughout. While it doesn’t hit the highs like Bioshock, it satisfies in much the same way. It has interesting characters, a mysterious plot with a few twists, and a whole bunch of optional ways to fill it in, if that’s your thing.
While there were serious issues reported on the PC and PS4 versions of the game, I did not run into any during my playthrough on Xbox One. I did however get to deal with the load times – which are terrible. Early on, they don’t happen too often (unless you’re dying a lot) but as the game progresses they become more frequent. They’re especially difficult to deal with towards the end of the game, where you have to traverse between the various areas repeatedly.Beyond that, and a few minor glitches, the game performed well technically.
The environments are really beautiful to behold although I did notice items drop or pop into existence as I turned around quickly to make sure a Typhon was lurking behind me. It happened most noticeably in the Arboretum with all the plant life. In a way it added to the tension in the game because I would catch the movement out of the corner of my eye and assume it was a mimic or some other alien out to get me.
While the environments were great, the sound design continues to be the strong point of the game. I could honestly have the menu music playing in the background while I worked all day.
This game is just plain fun. Prey is everything I wanted, plus a little more. The story is compelling, the gameplay is solid, and other than a few glitches, is a very pretty game. My big complaint is the long load times. They seem to take forever and, when starting up the game, it feels like you have to sit through two of them. Fortunately the sound design in this game evens out that disappointment. As a bonus, this game just went on sale and is currently $30. I bought it at full price and feel like I got my money’s worth, so at the discounted price, I say this is a must own.