Prey: First Hour Impressions

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Prey was announced last year at Bethesda’s E3 Press Conference and, like many other fans of the original Prey (2006), I was slightly disappointed that this wasn’t the previously shown Prey sequel (which we were all hoping was still secretly in development), but was, in fact, a completely new IP.

That being said, upon finishing the first hour of Prey demo that released on Thursday I am quietly optimistic that this could be an excellent new game from the developers of Dishonored (Arkane Studios).

Playing as Morgan Yu, you are thrown into a normal day that seems to be not too far in the distant future, yet something doesn’t feel quite right. Before you have time to finish your day at ‘work’ (more like you are a Portal test subject) you witness an attack, but then the game pulls a Groundhog Day as you wake up again to your alarm ready for another normal day. Quite quickly you realize something has gone badly wrong (the torn up body outside your apartment kind of gives it away), and as you pick up a conveniently placed wrench the game truly begins.

As you progress through the next sequence of scripted areas you find out you are actually on a space station orbiting Earth and have been living a Truman Show life for an unknown amount of time. And this is where Prey sucked me in. Why are we here? Who did this?

It brought back memories of my first journey into Rapture (Bioshock) and how I read every journal and listened to every audio log – in a similar way, Prey gives you breadcrumbs to a story and it’s up to you find every secret.

That isn’t to say my time with Prey was perfect. The combat was clunky and movement felt quite stiff to the point where some combat encounters felt unforgiving. At times I would begin a fight and before I had time to move I would be looking at a game over screen. It has been reported on various sites (NeoGAF/Reddit) that the input lag which contributes to this has been addressed by the developers and will be patched before the game releases on the 5th May, so we will have to see if this makes a difference or not in the final version.

My only other problem initially was with the enemy designs – at first sight, these appear rather simple, but when you realise that one type of enemy can transform into inanimate objects you will be on edge within every room you walk into, looking for that room that has perhaps one too many chairs surrounding a desk. Of course in your first hour, you will only really encounter two types of enemy and I’m sure the full game will have more varied types as it progresses.

I haven’t even got round to the crafting and upgrade mechanics that are again very akin to Bioshock. Hopefully next week we will see whether the mysteries of Prey will be able to counter the cons I found. One thing is certain though… I will never be able to look at a chair the same way.

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