The demo for Prey was released late April for people to try the very first hour of the game, taking us back to an era of gaming where we actually had demos. As this is just a preview, we’ll have to wait for the full release for a final verdict. But from the first hour alone, Prey sinks it’s black, smoky tendrills into you and refuses to let go.
Prey hands down has one of the best opening sequences I’ve ever played in a video game. It takes the mundane tutorials of any other game and weaves them organically into the narrative in a way I haven’t seen replicated since Half-Life 2. It then subverts everything in a way you never see coming. I can’t say much more than that to risk spoilers, but rest assured it’s awesome.
Fans of Dishonored (one of Arkane Studios’s previous games), Deus Ex, and System Shock will feel perfectly at home with the gameplay. The game has you exploring semi-linear levels while fending off enemies survival-horror style.
I say semi-linear because while there is a defined path from point A to B, you can branch off in a ton of ways in order to get to point B. On your way to the exit, for instance, you may run into a computer with an email telling you that an important item is in this guy’s cabin, but you’ll need his keycard and he was last seen in the trauma center. Or you may notice a way to jump across a series of air ducts and lights to get to a new area.
Combat has players wielding a variety of firearms and tools to fend off alien attackers. Ammo is limited, so you have to prioritize certain weapons for certain enemies. Sometimes it’s best to just use your dinky wrench. The most fun weapon to use so far is the GLOO cannon, which shoots clumps of glue that can freeze enemies and create barriers and platforms along walls.
But what really makes the combat are the Mimic, which are basically Half-Life 2’s headcrabs by way of H.R. Giger. Able to transform into any everyday object, they wait to ambush the player. Some will even run off if attacked so they can transform. But you can sniff them out if you’re observant in the environment as they often transform into the object next to them. I once had a trash can roll down the stairs only to find another one at the top, cluing me in. They really demonstrate Prey’s strength as a survival-horror experience.
The art style is both beautiful and haunting as you travel through the grand Talos-I littered with disfigured corpses frozen in place, which is backed up by the slick graphics.
I do have some complaints, however. Often when I found a unique way to get to a hard to reach area of the map, there were no rewards to find – not even a cute collectible. One area of the map early on was too maze-like and had me running around in circles – which could have been avoided since a set of doors that were previously closed due to a cutscene were now open. It’s also annoying to have the Mimics circle around you, especially since it was a bit hard to aim on the PS4.
Nevertheless, the demo was worth the hour and a half I’ll probably have to replay once I get the full game. I’ve gone from having little interest in Prey to waiting anxiously for its release. I’ll be sure to tell you if it all holds up in my full review.
Prey releases this Friday for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.