The title of this post is certainly a bold statement, and not one I make lightly. Prey (2017) is a frankly fantastic game. It’s challenging, visually impressive, immersive and forces the player to think their actions through.
The game centers around Morgan Yu, a scientist trapped on a space station when an experiment goes wrong. It’s admittedly a fairly basic plot that’s been done before, and the premise is similar to the game System Shock 2, which is also similar gameplay wise. In fact if I had any problem it is the narrative. It’s not really bad, but it isn’t quite as philosophical as Bioshock, nor are the characters as interesting as those found in the Deus Ex series. I’d still say the writing is above average, but could be better.
Just about everything else however is great. The gameplay is smooth, and gives you plenty of options. Charging head first into a problem is a sure fire way to get killed. Proper use of your wide arrange of weapons, abilities and environment is the key to success. I’ve often been able to turn the tables on a situation by just thinking it through and using what I had at hand.
Although it is similar to some of the aforementioned games, it does have some unique mechanics. There’s a detailed crafting and recycling system that allows the player to acquire whatever items they need, so long they have the required resources. You will spend some time outside the space station, which has a very floaty feel to it. Finally there’s a variety of enemies that all have different strengths and weaknesses. I feel part of what makes Prey great is discovering all these enemies as you play the game and figuring out how best to deal with them, so I won’t discuss them any further. Just know that there’s plenty of variety to keep you on your toes.
Prey truly rewards creative players. Even if you do win a head on fight, you’ll likely waste precious resources. Every item in your inventory serves a purpose and can be useful in certain situations, whether your using a silenced pistol to take out weaker enemies, or the GLOO Cannon to create platforms, fix pipes spewing fire or even stick enemies in place. Even something as inconsequential as a banana can be a live saver with the healing effect it provides.
With all that being said, you can still play the game your way. Do you want to level up your hacking ability so you can manipulate various machines? Or do you choose to improve your strength to lift and throw heavy objects, potentially revealing new paths. Unlike a lot of games that feature a tacked on RPG stats system, Prey’s skill trees actually feel like they belong in the universe of the game, and there is a genuine sense of progression as you improve your abilities.
Visually the world looks interesting yet believable. There’s nothing too over the top or silly, and I do genuinely believe the future could look like this game does. The only issue I had with the game visually was the character model of Alex, who looked a bit too cartoony to me (or maybe it’s just the fact he’s an overweight man in a tight fitting suit) and some occasional texture pop in. I was able to run the game on high settings without any issue, which is a relief considering some of the lazy PC ports we’ve seen over the last few years.
There’s plenty of side quests, and multiple endings, certainly meriting multiple playthroughs. I manage to spend 14 hours on my first one and I certainly see myself playing through it again in the near future.
Prey does enough to build on similar games like Bioshock and Dishonored and crafts an intriguing world for the player to explore. Unlike F̶a̶r̶ ̶C̶r̶y̶ Ghost Recon: Wildlands, this game feels like a unique experience. It’s a shame it shares it’s title with an unrelated Sci-Fi shooter that publisher Bethesda happens to hold the rights to, as I feel this game easily stands on it’s own merits. I’d highly recommend checking out Prey (2017), as soon as you can. It was easily worth it’s full price at release, and that’s not something I say often.