PREY takes cues and inspiration from the best first-person-shooters of the past decade and attempts to fuse them all into one package.
Many of these components are executed well, aided by a robust physics engine, but as a complete package there is a lack of cohesion between Prey’s many layers.
Despite sharing the same name as the 2006 game, Prey, this one bares minimum resemblance and relates more to the “Shock” series, namely Systemshock and Bioshock.
The game has an impressive, if not cliched, introduction before letting you out into Talos 1, a space station that has been taken over by an alien life-form.
Your goal is to find out what happened and put a stop to it, though there are numerous ways to reach that goal and even more things to do along the way.
Aiding you on the journey are a slew of weapons, some basic like the pistol and shotgun, others more intuitive and sci-fi like the Gloo Gun and Q-Beam.
The Gloo Gun slows down enemies it hits, but if it hits a surface, a large ball of gunk spawns.
This can be useful for creating a make-shift staircase.
Yet due to the guns all feeling clunky, and the sensitivity settings having no X or Y sliders, you will miss a lot; so every fight ends with a room basted in suspicious white goo that is difficult to traverse.
Aside from the accidental wall of glue you’ve built, the main obstacle in your path is an alien race called Typhon, some of which have interesting abilities such as the mimic that can shape-shift into anything.
While a clever mechanic for making you distrust chairs and coffee mugs, it is never really capitalised on and becomes more irritating than anything past the introductory stages.
In fact, combat as a whole is never good.
Every single enemy is a black squiggle in a vague shape, making them dull to look at, and the pace of each fight is arduous.
You start by slowing the enemy down with Gloo before methodically battering them to pieces with a wrench, shotgun or grenade.
Worse, most of them have huge health pools so this goes on way beyond when it stopped being fun.
The small mimics are easy to kill but they swarm around your ankles, meaning you just end up shooting at your toes for a few minutes.
At a midpoint you will be able to gain Typhon powers such as shape-shifting, yet it works poorly as a method of hiding due to basic enemy A.I. and gaining too many alien powers turns the many turrets in the world hostile to your presence.
So it’s not entirely worth it.
From a technical standpoint, Prey runs rather well at a solid 30fps, but I was expecting Talos 1 to be an open world.
Instead it is made up of small to medium sized areas between which is a punishing load screen, averaging 90 seconds on PS4.
These are made even more frustrating by how every load screen is followed by another mini load screen; why, just why?
The pay off for this is that every item will be exactly where you left it, neat but not worth it.
My play-throughs were also dogged by a recurring glitch called ‘skating’ where the game only allows walking in zig-zags; fixing this required starting the game all over again.
I had to do that three times.
Coming to the end of Prey, I thought the level design was top tier and there are plenty of ways to approach every situation.
Yet the story rarely excels past intriguing into being actually interesting, the combat is a chore and technical mishaps kept tripping up my experience.
+Rich level design
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One and PC
Reviewed on PS4