Arkane Studios’ Prey reboot is now available, so naturally we slapped on our space suits and took on the ambience of the Talos 1 space station to see what this new title is all about. Simply put, it’s Dishonored in space, but there’s a bit more to it than that easy comparison. While it suffers from a few technical issues and brutal difficulty, it still offers a solid gameplay experience that can last upwards of 20 hours or more depending on skill and level of completion.
For our full review please watch the video below, or read its script embedded right after it.
Hey now gamers looking to get back into a franchise from the last generation of consoles, or at least play a game with the same name that has really nothing to do with the original, Matt Heywood here to review the new Prey.
Or what I like to call Dishonored in space!
There will be no major plot spoilers, but proceed with caution if you don’t want to see any in-game footage.
Arkane Studios’ influence on the rebooted Prey franchise is glaring. Everything from the stylistic aesthetic of its characters to the open approach to level design feels very familiar in Prey, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your appreciation of Arkane’s other major gaming franchise, Dishonored.
Prey is without a doubt Dishonored in space, which evokes memories of an old muppets bit, but most of you are probably too young to even know what the hell I’m talking about. You play as Morgan Yu, who can either be a male or female. I went for the fairer sex because it just felt right for the game’s narrative, but choosing a male or female will have no bearing over the game’s plot.
That’s about the only thing that won’t affect how your experience plays out in Prey, because like Dishonored, the decisions you make about any choice presented to you will dictate the ending you get, as well as how NPCs react to you. This not only covers how you approach each mission, which can be done in a stealthy or brute force manner thanks to the level design of the Talos I space station, but also how you choose to level up Morgan.
You see, on this space station Morgan is a scientist involved in studying the Typhon, which are the aliens being contained on Talos I for unknown purposes. Due to her involvement in the project she has been using Neuromods to enhance her skills, which you can find around the station to flesh out her skills by finding neuromod injectors. After a few hours into the game you can start giving Morgan Typhon powers, which will impact how she is viewed on the station from everything to the human NPCs to the security droids and turrets guarding the station. If you go heavy on Typhon powers these defensive measures will start attacking you, so there is a balance you must walk when deciding how to level up Morgan.
These Typhon powers are very reminiscent of the dark powers you can flesh out in Dishonored, and can allow you to become a formidable opponent for the Typhon, but it will be at the risk of your humanity, so again every choice in Prey carries weight with it, and they will impact your ending, so I appreciated how impactful your choices are in shaping your own Prey experience. No two players should honestly have the exact same experience, that’s how much freedom you have in nearly every aspect of Prey’s gameplay.
In terms of the gameplay in general though I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the nuances. For starters, just like the most recent Dishonored, this game is brutal regardless of what difficulty setting you go with. Even on easy you will get your ass handed to you early on if you opt for a more in your face approach to each mission and get into scuffles with the Typhons and the stations security drones. I’m talking ramming you head into the wall type of frustration if you try open combat, so while that method is an option, you’re mostly forced to take the stealthier approach, or as I learned early on, run like hell through most of the stations levels and hope to not get caught up in a Typhon cyclone of death.
The difficulty is further compounded by the game’s economy system, which constantly has you searching for items to pick up, or scrap to find to recycle into usable products. Health, Shield, and eventually PsiOp pickups will become gold to you, because if you do decide to fight, or have to fight, you will definitely need patched up, or you will suffer multiple restarts as you try to find some sort of escape route while also hoping to find enough health to get past the next objective.
This got very frustrating, because Prey suffers from extremely long load times, so when you die you are forced to sit and wait a few minutes before you can make another attempt, so the cycle of death and the respawn waiting period can grate on you. The loading time issue also becomes a huge pain in the ass in general, especially towards the end of the game, thanks to the fact that Prey leans far too heavily on backtracking. The problem isn’t really the backtracking and seeing the same environments over and over though, it’s the fact that to go from point A to point B you may have to ride an elevator or two, as well as go through a doorway that requires a lengthy level loading process to complete, so you spend a ton of time looking at loading screens in-between mad dashes to the next junction point.
Prey also suffers from freezing issues, at least on the Xbox One, which would require the game to be fully restarted. This again would be a damn near 5-minute long wait to get back to where you were before the game froze, which could be even longer if it froze on you and you didn’t have a recent save. By the way, quick save like a mother fucker in this game to save yourself even more frustration.
Now I did enjoy Prey’s Dishonored-like approach to mission design, which does allow for some creative routes to be taken if you have an imagination and a keen eye. You can get past pretty much any locked door with a bit of exploring, and with the game’s gloo gun, which shoots out spray foam, you can build some of your own ladders and bridges to access areas you never thought possible without a key. The sad thing though is that due to the game’s difficulty and the obscene power of its enemy NPCs, you mostly run through every section so you can to avoid losing your precious health, shield, and PsiOp points, that you miss most of the nuances and the explorable nature of the Talos I space station.
Prey does excel at rewarding those who go off the beaten path, because there are plenty of items to find and secrets to uncover, but I usually found myself opting for mad dashes to conserve precious resources, so the difficulty does lessen your ability to explore unless you want to spend 20 plus hours on Talos 1.
Now in terms of Prey’s plot it’s pretty muddy unless you spend time finding and reading items that flesh out the backstory and current events, but it does take an interesting turn towards the end. Like I mentioned you can influence it based on your actions, so even the ending can be different for you based on how you play the game and how you went about your major decisions.
While I would have preferred a true sequel to the original Prey, Arkane Studios did a solid job at rebooting the franchise in an entirely new direction. That studio’s involvement is very clear in every aspect of the game, especially if you have played Dishonored, which truly is the blueprint Arkane used to bring Prey back to life. Depending on how much you appreciate that franchise will dictate how you feel about Prey. It’s no walk in the park, but it does offer a very intricate and deep world to explore if you’re willing to put in the time and have high levels of patience. The difficulty at times, the long loads, and the freezing glitches do mar the experience, but for the most part this reboot is a success, especially if you love Dishonored.
Yes I made that comparison yet again, but it’s the best way to sum up what the new Prey is all about. For what it’s worth this reboot earns a stable 75/100 review score from the EB team. If you like games with a sci-fi setting that feature impactful plot choices with challenging gameplay and an open level design you will like Prey, but just prepare to get a bit pissed and plan for some serious load times if you choose to dive in.
Thanks for watching, Matt Heywood here for entertainmentbuddha.com, where we aim to make you a better geek, one post at a time.
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Review Statement: The author of this review was provided an Xbox One code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.