Underrated Games: Prey (2017)

Prey was released in May of 2017 on all major platforms, developed by Arkane studios and published by Bethesda. Whilst generally well received, this mind-bending survival horror/first person combat game didn’t quite sell as well as it perhaps should have. I firmly believe it's worth picking up - here's why!

I will fully admit that I didn’t buy Prey upon release, therefore I am part of the problem! In fact, my fiancée ended up getting it for me on a whim. I went into it with an open mind, not really knowing what to expect other than what I’d already experienced with Dishonored, Arkane's other baby. I am now about 15 hours in and feel that I’m fully in a position to recommend this game especially at the price points you can pick it up for now (my PS4 copy cost five pounds, I mean come on). It offers much of the standard Arkane fare: you are a hero/heroine who can acquire some interesting abilities and can use said abilities to explore/progress/fight/puzzle your way through relatively open levels with some gorgeous environments and boy does Prey deliver on the environment part.

Without giving too much away, you begin Prey as a male or female (choice dependant) called Morgan Yu. The first few hours are extremely engrossing as you unravel a discomforting story that takes place aboard a sprawling space research station called Talos 1. Your ultimate goal to survive and find out exactly what the hell is happening is made difficult by the game's core enemies: aliens known as "Typhon". What separates this game from your typical alien bashing affair are the techniques that the aliens can employ to slow you down and stop you. Some of the enemies can “mimic” random objects throughout the game world - literally taking on the form of anything from a coffee cup to a trash can, all the way up to the consumables you use in game. There is little more startling than trying to pick up a med kit only to have it explode into its true form and try to stab you in the heart. Admittedly this novelty does 
eventually wear off but it’s such a cool concept that definitely deserves kudos.

Talos 1 is a beautifully realised and haunting environment. 

The environment of the space station is well crafted and littered with environmental story. You’ll learn about the inhabitants of the station and what befell them via neat little audio logs and terminals where you can sift through employees’ emails at will. The sensation of being stuck in space is very well realised and the sense of dread is complimented well by an excellently crafted explorable world. You can and will revisit areas regularly and can unlock skills that will allow you to access areas previous locked to you which is a great addition for those who wish to squeeze every drop of value from a game.

To start with you are given nothing but a trusty wrench (a la Bioshock) but very quickly come across other interesting weapons. From the more traditional pistols and shotguns to the more flamboyant weapons such as the Gloo Cannon, which is essentially a foam fire extinguisher on steroids which can be used to freeze enemies in place, put out fires or as another way to traverse the environments. Neuromods take the place of plasmids in this game and can be used as they are picked up. Think of them as instant skills points or currency that enables you to upgrade your character's speed, health or strength but also allows you to gain access to some of the wackier abilities, including (later in the game) the ability to “mimic” objects yourself! If you’ve ever wanted to play as a coffee cup, then Prey is the game for you.

The Gloo cannon is a novelty but it's very fun nonetheless! 

In summary, it is unfortunate that the game didn’t sell as well as expected. Arkane have crafted a robust, explorable, immersive and content filled experience with only a few minor bugbears. The value for money if you can get this on the cheap is insane, and I hope that the studio makes more games of this quality in the future. Now I’ve got to go - I could have sworn I just saw my desk fan move…

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