Yup, I went there, shitty kind of pun where I mix up ‘prey’ and ‘pray’, that’s how much this game disappointed me.
Honestly, I really, really wanted to like this, I looked at it and I liked what I saw, I heard a lot of hate for it but blew it off because I mean people love shitty games and decent games sometimes come out at the wrong time and I thought a lot of the hate was coming from people who liked the original Prey game and those just sick of games like this after we reached peak space survival horror of alien isolation. Although admittedly I have a love hate relationship with arcane studios, I love the gameplay of Dishonored but it’s everything else that’s the problem and those problems as you will see are ten times that in this game.
So I really went into this expecting to be surprised and at the start I really was, the intro is great, I love a good intro to a game, if a game can blow you away within the first ten minute you know you’re onto a winner. Without spoilers the intro is this really nice mind fuck and I was really feeling this game after that, a great set up and then you get into the game and there isn’t a lot of hand holding you’re just expected to go out and explore which is awesome, it’s laden with atmosphere and you’re jumping at every sound and then coffee cups start attacking you.
Yeah, the best part of this game is probably the mimics, they’re these little aliens that can transform into anything so when you encounter one you end up hitting everything that has a double next to it with a wrench just to make sure.
I hear a lot of people whining about the difficulty curve of this game and to those people I say ‘git gud’. The game is quite punishing at the start because it’s trying to herd you in a certain direction so you can measure your strength from the start to later on in the game which is how games should work, that’s whats satisfying about a game like this, you start off shit but by the end you can deal with almost any problem you face. And I really liked that and I found myself really dreading he next enemy encounter merely because every fight felt like this intense ordeal… which is how a survival horror game should feel, that’s where the intensity comes from.
Another thing I saw people hating on was the gluegun, which is exactly what it sounds like it’s this projectile glue gun which acts as like a freezeray and covers enemies in glue so you can better shoot them or in my case hit them with a wrench and even better you can create vertical paths to get to objectives by climbing the glue when it drys. Which being a big portal fan I loved because you have a weapon that not only incapacitates enemies but also allows you to better traverse the 3d world.
Now onto the bad stuff, why I didn’t ultimately finish this game, I literally put my controller down and uninstalled it and sent it back to amazon. It’s not because of the difficulty believe me, it’s the overall design flaws inherent in the game and the glaring fact that this game has no character.
What do I mean by ‘character’?
Ok so this game is basically bioshock in space, the game plays pretty much exactly the same, you have guns and collect implants to get crazy powers and fight freak but is that all bioshock is? On the surface yes. But beneath the surface you have this very atmospheric game where every room, every section is a character in itself, rapture is a character but then on top of that you have this massively imposing figure like Andrew Ryan and Steinman and Sander Cohen and Atlas. And even in the audiologs you have these interesting characters that you want to know more about, you want to learn more about rapture and what happened to the people there and because of that you want to progress.
Moreover at every twist and turn you’re discovering new powers and new weapons so you have this tailored experience of risk and reward leading you through the game and that’s how a game sucks you in with this delicate balance of risk and challenge with rewards put at intervals that keep you going to find more.
Prey on the other hand is nothing like that, it’s a lot more like deus ex, a lot more free form, less linear and as you unlock more abilities more paths become available to you but Deus has characters that are interesting and a story that is engaging and a living breathing world that is immersive Prey has none of that.
Talos is just this dead piece of junk floating in the sky and you could say rapture is this dead city at the bottom of the sea but it just isn’t, every room is alive with its history, every piece of the game tells a story. Every enemy is unique and weird and surprising.
Now for the many technical gripes I have and why I ultimately stopped playing the game. Weapons, there aren’t enough of them, the only weapons in the game are a shotgun and a pistol and the upgrade system is just a numbers cranking mechanic, you just fill boxes to make the gun not shit. Yeah you get a lazer and a tazer and a gluegun but there still isn’t enough weapons for this game to call itself a shooter. The grenades are cool but it just seems lazy to have so few weapons in a game like this. None of the weapons are particularly impressive honestly, even the lazer gun is just ‘hold down to mulch target’.
Another problem I have with it is the enemies are boring, there isn’t really any variety to them, it’s just the mimics which are little blobs of tentacally black goo and then the phantoms which are human size blobs of black goo and then there are big floating blobs of black goo and then an even bigger glob of black goo. Seeing a pattern here? Sure some of them shoot electricity for some reason and some shoot fire for some reason and some control technology for some reason but they’re boring enemies, to look at and to fight. They’re not scary at all so this game can’t be classed as a survival horror, not enough guns so it can’t be classed as a shooter and there isn’t enough customization to be called an rpg so what is it?
This game has an identity crisis but worst of all it’s boring.
I don’t know how else to say it, there isn’t one interesting character in the bunch. I get that it’s going for the realism vibe like dead space or alien isolation so you can’t have wacky bioshock characters but Dead space has this terrifying oppressive atmosphere and scary grotesque monsters and alien isolation has tension in spades. This game has none of that. So its like in this horrible sweet spot where it can’t be a serious horror game but it also can’t laugh at itself.
There are no villains in the game, I know this might seem realistic because no one is truly evil but you need a villain, you need some kind of interesting antagonist and the closest you get is the main characters brother who is basically a fat filthy frank lookalike with the most boring voice I have ever heard. I seriously want to fall asleep whenever I hear him talk and every other character is either a robot or acts just like them.
So I found myself sort of rushing through the game when I realised how empty it was and how little I cared about any of the characters and that everything was explored already. Who can be bothered to read all these emails when you don’t care about the characters or what happened to the ship? It’s tedious and pointless, Whereas in bioshock I read every scrap and listened to every audiolog trying to find out any titbit of what befell rapture. In Prey I found myself skipping over lots of audiologs and even when I listened to them I soon forgot what they said and couldn’t even see how it related to any of the side quests which are all just boring fetch quests really.
There basically is no story, admittedly the gameplay is fun but repetitive and I realise I’m waffling now. The reason I stopped playing is because all the enemies respawn, which is fine for a game like Dark Souls where you have an unlimited amount of sword swings but the supplies you find in drawers or wherever don’t respawn so you have limited resources but your enemy does not. And then by the end of the game these robots are constantly respawned as they’re created in a 3d printer so you kill one and another is instantly created to replace it and they kill you really quickly and are really annoying to kill.
So yeah, ‘git gud’ right, I could have just run past them and the newly spawned aliens and let them fight it out to accomplish the mission and finish the game but thinking about it I was just thought to myself, ‘why?’
Why do I even want to complete this game? It just seemed like more hassle than it was worth, it’s risk and reward scale was tossed out the window. I’d already just discarded all the submissions left undone as pointless busy work at this point. Because oh I’m so fucking sorry, the ship is filling with aliens that I don’t have enough ammo to kill and now killer robots that constantly respawn and you want me to find a recording of some dead pianists brain for whatever fucking reason, piss off.
Because at this point I realise I’m doing these submissions just to do them, they’re utterly pointless and then I realised that this game stopped being fun like an hour ago when I thought it was ending and I lost track of even what the objective was and I was just following a way point. I just want it to end and then it ratcheted up a level of difficulty that made the game just too tedious to bother with. I mean yeah I could have completed this game but for what point? I don’t care about his brother or any of the characters or even the ending.
So I just stopped playing. I don’t know how to describe it but arcane studios are just bad, and they should feel bad. They can make games that are technically good, good looking and well made but they entirely miss out the human element. And it’s the exact problem I have with dishonored. It’s a fun game but the characters and story and world building has the depth of a puddle. They try to copy games like thief and deadspace and bioshock but its like they don’t understand what made those games good wasn’t just the technical aspects. Deadspace isnt just good ‘cos aliens in space rarrr’, bioshock isn’t just ‘cos spoopy powers pew pew’. It’s like trying to explain the feeling of looking at a picasso to a robot, it can see all the lines and shapes but it can’t process them in a way that gives it a raw feel for what it is. Arcane is literally a design team of blind men all trying to describe an elephant and failing miserably.
Prey ultimately is a soul less tedious bioshock clone which deserves to sink to the bottom of a bargain bin and stay there and arcane needs to hire better writers or just stop making games all together because they just don’t get them.
Long story short, don’t waste your time or your money on this game, you’ll just feel empty and dirty at the end of it. Just play bioshock or deadspace again, you’ll feel infinitely better.
Needlessly overlong rant over haha.