Do you like BioShock? Yes? Then you should probably play Prey. Never has a review been this easily laid out, but it’s (mostly) a true assessment. Prey is essentially a brand new IP from Dishonored developer Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. I say “essentially” a new IP because Prey was the title of another game you may remember. Traveling all the way back to 2006, Human Head Studios, 3D Realms, and 2K all got behind a new IP called Prey that followed a Cherokee main character named Tommy as he is abducted by aliens and travels his way through a space ship while having realizations about his heritage.
This 2017 version of Prey is not that game. Nor is it even a sequel, or a prequel. Over the past 10 years, Prey morphed into an outstanding demo at E3 showcasing the main character as a bounty hunter, and then disappeared again, reemerging as what it is today. So, what is it today? After so many changes, and turning into a game that has nothing to do with the original 2006 release, is it still worth playing? Is it actually good? The answer to all of these questions is yes.
Prey (2017) follows the story of Morgan Yu as he/she (you choose) awakens in a simulation to find all hell has broken loose. The game is set in an alternate timeline where President JFK survived the assassination attempt and went on to push the space race to heights unimaginable by most. In doing so, Earth became a target to an alien race called the Typhon. Unbeknownst to the general population, the United States and the Soviets fought off the Typhon and imprisoned them in a station that was orbiting the Moon.
Decades later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States took control, and later shut down “Project Axiom,” the code name for the station and program. Fast forward to 2025 and the TranStar Corporation has acquired the Kletka (the name of the station) and begun to use it as a research facility, bringing discoveries made by studying the Typhon back to Earth to advance technology. Overall the story is what kept me going in Prey. It always teases you with just enough mystery to make you want to know how, and more importantly why, the events are happening the way they are. The alternate history backstory also makes reading the papers and books scattered around the game quite entertaining.
Gameplay in Prey is very similar to BioShock. You are dropped into big open levels with multiple areas to explore all while fighting off enemies using head-on tactics, or sneaking past them using alternate routes, traps, or many other items at your disposal. The difference is in the powers. As you progress in the game you begin to realize that you can utilize some of the same powers the enemies use. Mimics are small head crab-like creatures that scurry past you and turn into inanimate objects to hide, eventually, you also get this power. The downside is, the more alien powers you add and use, the more of a threat the environment (turrets, etc.) see you as (along with some even worse side effects I won’t spoil here). You get your standard guns and melee weapons, along with some fun grenade types and items to help those who prefer a more stealthy approach. The gunplay itself is a bit sluggish, but if you’ve played BioShock you can kind of have a general idea of how it works. The gameplay really puts the decisions in your hands. Stealth or shoot? Full-on alien god, or fully human? Explore to find more items and power-ups to help you, or go straight through the story? Even the story itself presents key points for you to decide truly how good or evil you are. Prey is all about player choice, and that’s what makes it quite a bit of fun.
Overall, Prey is a very solid game with a few frustrating issues. The controls leave something to be desired, and there can be some solid difficulty spikes, but the exploration and narrative give you plenty to make going back to Prey easy. If you were big into BioShock or, maybe, System Shock, this is a game for you. It’s long enough to warrant a purchase, but can probably be rented and finished over the weekend. Speeding through it would have you miss a lot of the finer details and items, including all the books and papers laying out more of the world. I’d fully suggest picking this up and giving it some time. It’s not the best game of 2017 by a long shot, but it’s more than worth your time if you have a hole in your gaming schedule.
Related: Prey hands-on Preview