Wot I Think: Prey

Prey [official site] is, I’m so pleased to report, a truly fantastic game. It is also a game for which, delightfully, you’re going to have to shake off a lot of habits and assumptions. Here’s wot I think:

The first thing to forget is the original Prey. This has flat-out nothing to do with it. It is, frankly, ridiculous that it has the same name. This isn’t a sequel, nor a remake, nor a sister-game. It’s utterly unrelated. This is a game in which you play either a female or male Morgan Yu, a research scientist on a space base, which has been infested with a shape-shifting black-goo alien evil. There are no hokey tribal powers, instead an ever-growing pile of hokey scifi powers. And you’ll be shooting far less often than you could have expected.

The next thing to forget is the small matter of how you’ve played games for the last decade or so. Prey is unquestionably built out of the bricks of a dozen other classic games (think System Shock, BioShock, Deus Ex, Metroid Prime), but it’s put them together in a unique pattern that, for the first half at least, kept surprising me.

Having deliberately avoided reading previews and watching footage, I was first and most surprised to learn Prey doesn’t take place in a corridor. However, it took me literally hours to start believing that it really was as open and freeform as it undeniably is. Despite always feeling like a first-person action game, it offers a far more RPG-like collection of ongoing quests to complete, and despite the seeming restriction of taking place in just one location, it’s a massively broad and unfolding setting in which you have a remarkable level of freedom to explore where you wish.

Here the Metroidvania kicks in, with the game often blocking progress in one area of one section by something you realise you’re not yet equipped to handle. But dig in a little deeper and you might find extra exploring and improvisation allows you early access anyway. Which all leads toward the overarching tone of Stumbling Upon.

Prey makes big progressive steps forward by giving you new equipment or abilities. You’ll know this, because it’s impossible to have avoided that at some point in the game you’re going to be able to turn into a coffee mug. What’s incredible is the nonchalance with which this ability is eventually introduced. It’s a fair way in, how far entirely dependent upon how much you focus on the main quest beats and how good you are at not being distracted by intriguing-looking side routes and side-quests. And when you find it, it’s not some grand gesture or achingly scripted sequence – it just is. You just have that now. The real question is whether you want it.

The same is true of so much else. I’ve gained super-important new skills that change how I approach the game while thinking I was just off investigating an interesting tunnel off the main path. “Oh, what’s in this box? Oh, a thing that means I can now scan and track enemies. Cool.”

I’ve never seen a game be this relaxed about itself, and it’s a huge joy. Everything from every major publisher seems so obsessed with enforced fanfares, choreographed sequences and non-interactive cutscenes, to make sure you notice all their hard, hard work. Prey seems completely ambivalent about this, just content with being a brilliant game and letting you notice that for yourself. It’s bloody weird to experience.

You next need to forget expectations developed by the recent Deus Ex games. As pleasant as they are, they were unquestionably a compromise between Looking Glass’s format and a more modern linear shooter. It’s only natural to assume Prey would have adopted the same compromises. It was not something I could have predicted that it would not only ignore all that, but not even shape itself like a Looking Glass game. Instead the faux-claustrophobic nature of a space station belies an ever-expanding space in which you become ever-more competent to survive.

That latter part is perhaps the game’s first misstep, too. Combat, at the start, is bloody awful. Avoidable in the most part, but still awful. Mimics are the critters of Prey, spidery beasts that can take on the shape of any small object, and then sproing into their gooey black skittering form with a big orchestral blast. That’s a brill idea, but unfortunately in execution they’re deeply tedious. Their attacks are very close-up, which is not useful in a first-person game, and your only weapon at the start is a wrench. Mimics move so fast, and get so in your face, that you end up waving it around like an idiot – something made even more annoying by there being the most ridiculous stamina bar for such an action. I’m a massive wimp, but I can still wave a spanner around without needing a sit down after fifteen seconds. Not so Morgan.

You’ll likely soon get a pistol, but again at the start it’s really ineffective, the wrench infuriatingly the better tool. And after a while of this, it can start to feel a little overwhelming. Prey is a difficult game from start to finish, but much more so at the start. And looking back, I’m grateful for it. It forces you into a different style of play, one where running around spraying bullets isn’t only impossible (there just aren’t enough bullets), but also far less effective than using more intelligent approaches. By the time I felt confident enough with my skills and weapons to be able to survive a firefight, I was still far more likely to devote my efforts to arranging turrets, setting traps, and whipping out a shotgun as a last resort.

Morgan Yu, whether male or female, is a half-German, half-Chinese senior member of the Talos 1 team, a group of researchers, scientists and space pioneers living on a space station orbiting the moon. After the failed assassination attempt of JFK, the US space programme made huge leaps, spurred on by USSR competition. By 2034, Talos 1 is a thriving luxurious space station, hindered only by the attentions of a malevolent alien species called the Typhon. And beyond that, because of the really splendid way Prey environmentally and anecdotally tells its story, I won’t say anymore. However, how it tells this story deserves more celebration.

Notes, diaries, emails and books are hardly a fresh nor original way to give a player background information to a place and build up to a major incident, but then as I’ve said, Prey is not a game that stretches for original features – rather building something original out of their parts. But this is a masterclass in how it should be done, easily comparable with the original Deus Ex for the gentle, unfussy subtlety with which you can build up an understanding of what’s happening. Hacking terminals, reading emails, grabbing post-it notes, watching video files, listening to audio logs, are almost all optional. Each elaborates on Talos 1’s tale letting you piece together the station’s long history, origins, and recent catastrophes. And there’s practical application too – throughout the game there are choices to be made, and joyfully they’re not BELLOWED MOMENTS, but rather calm decisions – the more background you know, the more informed or influenced your decisions can be.

You’re further influenced by various voices. There’s a floaty robot called January, who is essentially Morgan’s self-programmed Jiminy Cricket, countered by the opposing voice of Morgan’s brother, Alex. Each has different arguments for what you should be doing about Talos 1’s rather severe predicament of black gooey alien evil, and while there’s definitely a “good” and “bad” spin, both are decent arguments. And complicated, too, further influenced by other information you’ll gain, and secrets to uncover.

Which is all bloody marvellous, until the end. Oh good grief. Prey’s ending is utterly, utterly terrible. I clearly shan’t even start to hint at spoiling it, but it’s atrocious, no matter which of a few barely varying finales you see. It’s abrupt, crass, and genuinely embarrassing, and even worse, madly dismissive. Literally a five second cutscene, before a post credits sequence that will have you wanting to write to your local politician to complain. (And the credits, about ten minutes long, are unskippable. I strongly recommend finding ‘steamapps\common\Prey\GameSDK\Videos’ and changing ‘Credits.bk2’ to ‘Credits.bk2.bak’, until they patch in the option to flipping skip seeing who made the best tea at the Australian offices of Bethesda. Update: While I verified this was the case with others before including this complaint, others still are reporting they can skip the credits. Which is strange.)

A bad ending doesn’t spoil a fantastic game, and Prey is absolutely that. But it really does change your overarching feelings when you’re trying to sum it up. Especially when it leaves so many threads dangling. It’s a real shame, and I expect we’ll eventually learn horror stories about the game being rushed out without anything close to the ending they were hoping for. But I don’t want to let that fill more than two paragraphs of this review, because it’s such a minor part of the dozens of hours of entertainment preceding it.

A game as strong, and as gripping as Prey, means errors that normally cause one’s teeth to grind are more easily forgiven. So when I saw a floating corpse I thought, “Oh, that’s odd,” rather than, “BAH! This game!” But it’s worth noting there are a few such issues, and none more annoying than how bad it is at letting you balance on thin beams when climbing. It encourages climbing, lots of fun secrets are hidden in the ceilings, and alternate routes around locked doors can be found if you look up more. So it’s infuriating there wasn’t more effort to ensure scrambling about felt more finished, less constantly slippy.

Plus, amongst its many splendid quests are a lot of duds, withering rather than ending. And if I’m to list my complaints, let me add in that the map is terribad. However, when I think about that, about how poorly it shows you where parts of the station are in relation to each other, and especially where stairs link floors, it makes me remember to celebrate how every other interface is great.

We’ve had a spate of decent games spoiled by abysmal UIs, and that’s not the case here. There’s inventory Tetris, but it’s done very well with a super auto-sort. Weapon upgrades are clear and simple. New abilities and skills are simply explained and easily implemented. Quests are clear, no problem to keep track of. (One tip: don’t forget there are two further barely noticeable tabs in your Inventory for augmenting your suit and scope – I entirely forgot this for an embarrassing amount of the game.)

Combat definitely improves, but the Mimics never get less annoying. It’s definitely the game’s weakest aspect, but that’s surprisingly unimportant overall. The game is far more about its place, your role in that place, and improvising within it. Fighting off Mimics and the even worse Cystoids, is only ever irritating. But larger Typhons with ranged attacks let you use your own methods, from a large pool. BioShock is definitely an influence here, with the option to just run right past nearly always there too.

Prey is brilliant, and it’s still great right up until moments before its end. Although it’s gently less brilliant as it goes on. It’s really hard to write this sentiment without it sounding more negative than it should be, but it’s essential for capturing the nature of the game. Visual demonstration: I’m holding my hand high above my head – the game starts here. Now my hand’s just above my head – and finishes here. The further you go, the less special its nature starts to feel, the more normal (where “normal” is classic games with which we’re familiar) it becomes. At the start it’s this sprawling, messy, Metroidy exploration, scrappily surviving against increasingly large and powerful enemies. By the later stages, when you’ve opened up most of the station, it’s much more about slogging from one place to the next in order to have some more targeted fun. Combat remains tricky, and my technique of daftly lugging two turrets (only able to hold one at a time) with me into big fights stood me until the end, even when I was replete with super-abilities – but it’s still easier to survive. At a certain point you’re checking off quests from the list before it ends, and things start to feel like a great but familiar game, rather than a really great and surprising game.

I’m so delighted to have had those first dozen hours. It’s so, so long since a big budget game has felt so fresh, so inspired, so imaginative with the building blocks of Looking Glass’s legacy. And I’m very pleased to have had the rest (but for the final five minutes), possibly about 30 hours or so in total.

Prey is a game that’s smart about almost every aspect of itself, and yet with that, so crucially modest. It doesn’t yank the camera from you, doesn’t force you to sit through cutscenes, doesn’t demand you sit still and listen to its backstory. It’s content to be itself and let you find it, which is a damned rare treat in this hobby. Even more amazingly, for all its array of abilities and powers, you can finish the game without touching them, perhaps even find a narrative rationale for doing so. It lets you improvise, explore, make big decisions without needing to tell you they’re big. And yes, it absolutely does let you turn into a cup.

Prey is out now for Windows for £40/$60/€60 via Steam.

144 Comments

  1. GAmbrose says:

    I have avoided all the previews and videos (and release hype) surrounding this game but it sounds right up my street.

    Must finish Ori and the blind forest first though.

  2. Jekadu says:

    I enjoyed Prey immensely. My biggest issue with it is that the main story feels like it’s too short compared to the size of the game. Like the story was created first and then just stretched over the game like a shirt two sizes too small. I was hoping for more surreal sections; more explorations on the nature of consciousness and identity and stuff. It would at least have allowed for a better ending.

  3. Focksbot says:

    Hmmm. I guess this must be a good review, because despite all the superlatives used, it tells me enough about what’s bad about the game to put me right off, and all the things that are supposed to be great … don’t sound all that great? It sounds like a game not really pointed towards any particular purpose apart from letting you play with various mechanical magic tricks.

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      John Walker says:

      Yeah, I guess if you make up a different review while not reading this, that’s the logical conclusion.

      • Rich says:

        Maybe if you only look at every 5th word, you get a review that says the game is crap.

      • Focksbot says:

        Well, John, it also happens to be the logical conclusion from your own review. The following things, for example, are bad enough in themselves to put me off spending time and money:

        “Plus, amongst its many splendid quests are a lot of duds, withering rather than ending.”

        “Combat definitely improves, but the Mimics never get less annoying. It’s definitely the game’s weakest aspect …”

        “By the later stages, when you’ve opened up most of the station, it’s much more about slogging from one place to the next in order to have some more targeted fun.”

        While at the same time you don’t really describe anything that sounds particularly compelling. A clean UI? Give a shit. Environmental storytelling and exploration, without cutscenes or hand-holding? Low bar. Lots of other games do that. It doesn’t cut the mustard. And your description of the game’s slow slide from Metroidvania to corridor shooter very strongly implies that there’s no overall sense of structure.

        I haven’t read any other reviews. I haven’t even seen any footage from the game. I’m only going on what you’ve put here. Maybe if this isn’t the impression you wanted to convey, then … I don’t know, word it differently?

        • Rich says:

          Those specifics do sound negative, but then John repeatedly says that those are just small issues and the game is great. Overall his tone is very positive.

          • Focksbot says:

            I don’t deny that the tone is positive overall. I can see that he’s gushing about how much fun he had.

            The point is that he had fun playing something which I, it seems, would not have much fun playing. Because people like different things.

            In other words, John Walker could write a review where he is positively ecstatic about the thrills and spills of watching paint dry, but it’s not going to convince me to watch paint dry, is it?

          • Vandelay says:

            I fail to see the issue here. The elements that John loved don’t make a good game for you. That is fine then, you know that it probably isn’t something you will like. The review has served its purpose as a buying guide for you.

            John wrote a review about something he clearly loved and you came away knowing it wasn’t for you… Sounds like a pretty well written review to me!

        • itsbenderingtime says:

          It’s really only logical if you completely dismiss all the other parts of the review where John gushes about the fun he had, the surprises he had, the comparisons to Looking Glass (for you young ‘uns, that’s a good thing…). Even the parts where he talks about what doesn’t work, he immediately qualifies it with how it doesn’t spoil things.

          I know a lot of people around here simply negate John’s opinions to find their own, but to find a negative review here is a concerted exercise in foolishness.

          • Chitzkoi says:

            “the comparisons to Looking Glass”

            Yep this is what encouraged me the most.

          • Focksbot says:

            It depends what you mean by ‘dismiss’. Am I dismissing the idea that John had fun and enjoyed his time in the game? No, I’m not. Am I dismissing that as evidence that *I* would have fun playing the game? Yes, I am. Because what John Walker enjoys isn’t necessarily what I enjoy, and there’s nothing concrete mentioned in this review that makes me think, “Wow, gosh, I must experience that for myself!”

            I’m really not sure you and he understand how criticism is meant to work – which is ironic, because he’s actually done a good job here. If you can convey enough information about a game to let people decide for themselves whether they will like it, not simply on the basis of whether the reviewer liked it but on the basis of the reader’s own preferences, then job done.

            In other words, John has done right with this review, but you and he seem to want to prove otherwise. His job isn’t to convince people to buy Prey, is it? It’s to give people the insight they need to make up their own minds.

          • Jabb Stardust says:

            I think this conclusion is what makes people raise their brows:
            “It sounds like a game not really pointed towards any particular purpose apart from letting you play with various mechanical magic tricks.”

            That sounds like an opinion of what the game stands for. When it’s purely based on something another person wrote, and people disagree with it strongly, small wonder people are surprised. No need for rhetorics.

        • vahnn says:

          This is the most positive review John Walker has ever written about a game.

        • ROMhack2 says:

          A bit late to the party but I’m with you on this. The review doesn’t successfully elaborate on what’s good about the game other than suggesting it’s good because it let John do a lot of fun stuff or something. I’ve acome to this review after playing for a few hours and I honestly feel like its lack of structure is a massive weak point and this review doesn’t suggest it does anything differently later on. Infact, John says the end is terrible which makes me sad because I’m really hoping it actually goes somewhere. It sounds a lot like it puts all its egg into the basket of good gameplay – fine for a lot of people but not what I tend to look for in games. This is especially beguiling because of its gleeful reference to Talos, invariably making me think of the absolute majestic Talos Principle.

    • baseless_drivel says:

      Why does it have to be an either-or American logic deal? I found the review to be (obviously) opinionated, but at the same time, it lets the reader fairly pick out things that might be deal-breakers or must-haves. Isn’t that what a good review does?

      On the other hand, you can always head over to Kotaku or something, where pages of text are devoted to expanding upon “Oh my god guys, this is Literally The Greatest Thing Ever, Literally. We totally weren’t paid to say this.”

      Or even better, a review site that just tells you what to think via some score system and just reiterates a bunch of basic plot details off the website. Bonus if it uses stock screenshots!

    • ThePuzzler says:

      I think some of the positive/negative confusion here is caused by the review glossing over what’s good about it, in a “There were some really cool surprises, but I won’t say what because that would spoil it for you” kind of a way. I support this.

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      Don Reba says:

      It just goes to show that John can write objectively, and you can read critically. Good work all around.

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      subdog says:

      Jesus Christ, John just can’t catch a break can he? The “Negative John” meme is even following him into his positive reviews.

      • Snowskeeper says:

        That is what happens when you are a person who writes things. People associate your past work with your present work.

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    Godwhacker says:

    I’m absolutely loving it so far- shame to hear about the ending but that really does make it the true successor to System Shock 2 and the horrible “Nah” that goes out with. There’s a huge amount of detail and none of it is highlighted- it’s all just sitting there waiting for you to notice. Several times I’ve found thing that I assume are essential for later quests just by poking my nose in the wrong place, or circumvented a gate with a recycle charge and it’s just kept ticking.

    Seems to be getting mixed reviews but if you’re looking for an engrossing, intelligent thriller to get lost in then look no further.

    • Chitzkoi says:

      Ending aside.. does the rest of the game measure up to the great SS2 (so far as you’ve played)?

      • Vegas says:

        I think it’s a lot better than SS2 in a lot of ways. Besides being a more modern and well-produced game, the way that it opens up is truly unique. It also feels less sparse to me than SS2 did. The resource management is done a lot better than in SS2, and you have a lot more options for solving problems, though not so many that there isn’t a challenge. Enemy encounters feel like puzzles to me. The whole game is an exercise in creative problem solving.

        I’m actually a bit more of a SS1 fan (less because of design decisions and more because of their naked sci-fi worship, like putting a phaser and a lightsaber in the game, and also various cyberpunk drugs). I think this game is a fitting tribute to both of those games though, while surpassing them. Also Bioshock.

        • DUFFKING says:

          For want of a better and less ubiquitous comparison point, it unfolds almost like Dark Souls, in terms of a central hub from which you can go in many directions, most of which link back up to one another and have shortcuts within that take you back to that central hub.

          Makes it feel like a real place rather than separate levels.

    • TΛPETRVE says:

      The ending is very Dark Souls. It’s basically just a cold, logical conclusion that takes its meaning entirely from your own either well- or ill-informed motivations. In other words, the more you know, the more likely you’ll feel affirmation in your final choice. The less you know, the more of a slave to the Age of Fire… er, the plot you are. This is an approach that you’ll either like or loathe.

      • Jabb Stardust says:

        Thank you! :) Thank you for telling what the deal with the ending is without spoiling anything.

        I was apprehensive about this having just read the review. I feared the story would be pulling a huge, unearned twist that awkwardly took the story to another level of sensibility (like reading a book that feels like a complex detective story throughout but climaxes like a CSI episode).

        So, is it more like in Deus Ex, the original? System Shock 2? Mass Effect 3? I rather liked the ending in all of them (in that order). :o)

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Interestingly enough all the great classic predecessors were also flawed in several aspects.

  5. Artea says:

    “Here the Metroidvania kicks in, with the game often blocking progress in one area of one section by something you realise you’re not yet equipped to handle.”

    You mean the System Shock kicks in. The first System Shock from 1994 already took that approach to its level design, which would later be classified as ‘Metroidvania’, as did Arkane’s own Arx Fatalis to a lesser extent. I’d argue that kind of design is more of a staple of the dungeon crawler genre, which the Metroidvania genre is simply a variation of.

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      John Walker says:

      A lot more people know what “Metroidvania” means than would understand a reference so specific to a game that came out before half the readers were born.

    • Jeeva says:

      I might argue that both the original Metroid and Castlevania came out in 1986, but I suppose you could also refer to it as the commonly made reference “systemshockish”?

      • GAmbrose says:

        Why is John getting shit for using a term that everybody knows? Is it because those were console games or something?

        I don’t think I’ve ever heard “Systemshockish” being used to describe game systems that block your progress until you unlock a specific skill…

        • Jeeva says:

          Hm, apologies. I was replying to the guy complaining about it – and trying to make the point that Metroidvania was waaaaay before System Shock.

          I actually made up the ‘systemshockish’ phrase to illustrate that it’s not actually something that’s used, in comparison to ‘Metroidvania’ (a fairly well known description of game-type).

        • Wulfram says:

          I don’t think everybody knows what metroidvania means. I’m not sure I know what it means, even though I’ve read it lots of times.

          • ThePuzzler says:

            It means you gain new powers as you explore, and these powers usually both help you in battle and open up new areas. “I gained a rocket jump power! I bet that would help me get to that door I saw before but couldn’t reach.”

      • Artea says:

        How is that relevant? Metroid and Castlevania weren’t the first games to have the kind of level design that they did.

        My point was that referring to Prey as a mashup of System Shock and Metroid is redundant, because System Shock already had the aspect that the article then later describes as Metroidvania. And obviously, the first-person 3D perspective and all the similarities in game mechanics makes a comparison to System Shock much more relevant.

        • Merus says:

          Now I didn’t play a lot of System Shock 2, but I don’t remember it gating you via ability upgrades. I recall switches and keys, except the deeper you go into the station the rougher it gets. More importantly, it’s hard for a game with an RPG advancement system to also have ability gating, and they were not solving that problem in 1994. (The key to a ‘metroidvania’, and everyone hates that name, is that progress is primarily determined by what abilities you’ve collected from the environment.)

        • Jeeva says:

          Sorry – I was more taking your point to mean that you thought it deserved to be compared to SS instead of Metroid/Castlevania/etc because that was the first example, etc, etc. My mistake.

          To me, Metroidvania is exploration plus (as well put by Merus) “gating you via ability upgrades”, so I think the line works better as is than with SS (as it’s referencing abilities gating exploration, instead of being on a space station in a creepy environment).

          You may have to excuse my lack of knowledge on the subject, as I’ve not yet played Prey – the WIT has made me want to, though, so… good job, John!

          • Artea says:

            System Shock has both items and data (keycodes, passcodes) and abilities gained from installing cybernetic hardware that are required to progress, at times necessitating backtracking to an earlier, blocked off section of the game.

          • Jeeva says:

            OK, so if it’s describing the same thing, isn’t Metroidvania the de-facto description for *that type* of game (and, as I originally pointed out, far earlier than System Shock)?

            Unless you want to get down to brass tacks / setting (in which case “space-structure with creepy bio-gore presence” can equally be ticked by Metroid).

            We’ve reached the maximum allowed depth of RPS comments, anywho, so… sorry about that.

        • skeletortoise says:

          John refers to a host of games which all serve as reference points for understanding the core concept of Prey. One would assume the listed mish mash implies many different things, perhaps pertaining to environment, narrative, gameplay, atmosphere, etc. While you might guess that this indicates “mechanically gated exploration”, it’s certainly not a definite. Regardless, there’s nothing that strange about his later explaining exactly how metroidvania specifically fits into the game. It’s the common term, so it makes sense he’d use it. It’s not redundant because he’s elaborating on, not restating, an earlier (and only implicit) point about the game. He might’ve said “This is where the systemshockness comes in”, and then be forced to explain exactly what aspect of system shock he was referring to. He could have abstained from such an introduction altogether, but I think it would have resulted in a more awkward, abrupt, and less useful sentence.

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        MajorLag says:

        “Mechanically Gated Exploration” might be an appropriately generic descriptor.

      • skeletortoise says:

        This is a silly complaint, but I have to admit I’m fully on board with describing games as “systemshocking”.

  6. Stropp says:

    It’s a pity this looks so good. I’m going to have to wait on this til it becomes a bit cheaper. US$79.95 on Steam (for Australia works out to over A$100) is way too pricey. Otherwise I’d be on it.

  7. DUFFKING says:

    Agree a lot with this review, but I have to say I like the Mimics. I’m some 15 hours in on Hard difficulty and I enjoyed having to be really careful in every room I entered for the first couple of hours in case one jumped out at me, while now I’m ready with an upgraded shotgun to blast them into submission.

    Something that’s bugged me with some other reviews that have popped up is the insinuation that Prey is somehow a lesser clone of Bioshock, in spite of being far more heavily influenced by System Shock and is a far deeper game that asks more of the player as a result. Bioshock, while great, was only ever a shooter in a light layer of Shock clothing while Prey is a genuine successor to the formula. It’s baffling to me that some critics have not only failed to pick up on the connection but also made the Bioshock comparison unfavourably, failing to notice how much less restrictive and streamlined Prey is.

    Speaking of which part of Prey’s success is how its areas link up so beautifully making it feel like a real place. Bioshock looked lovely and all, but while each individual area was pretty well designed up until the final third where it descended into “there’s a vent you can use to get past the locked door, I guess”, they never felt like they were truly connected, or places you might return to. They were just levels, but Prey takes place *somewhere*.

    Also been irked at the suggestion from some that the game’s approach is archaic (particularly with audio logs, that there’s something inherently wrong with making the first weapon a wrench and that you’re guided by a voice in the ear) and that games have been moved on. As if moving on is inherently a better thing. Especially when Doom noticed last year that having actual interesting level layouts and getting the player to more than just run up a glorified corridor and wait for NPCs to open doors for them might be more engaging after all, even if it’s not the modern way to do things.

    • Artea says:

      It’s nostalgia. Bioshock was the first time console players (i.e. the majority of the video game audience, critics included) got a taste of the immersive sim, streamlined though it was. As such, it wowed a lot of people unfamiliar with that style of game. Yes, Deus Ex, Thief and Arx Fatalis had console releases before Bioshock, but they didn’t sell very well or receive much attention.

      Bioshock also came out right at the time when a couple of popular game trends started to manifest, such as binary moral choices, environmental storytelling, audio logs and the debate of ‘can video games be art?’.

    • Vegas says:

      Man, let me know who these people are comparing Prey unfavorably to Bioshock so I can disregard them eternally.

      As impressive as that game was, I’ve reached the point in my gaming life where the things you’ve said have set in: it’s nowhere near as open as it pretends to be, and it’s really a gussied-up shooter with some cool abilitie. Infinite was even more so. And though it had very effective environmental storytelling, all of that discussion about “it’s art!” seems a bit silly now.

      I also agree about the Mimics. Those jump scares never get old to me. Every one feels like a fun prank. That is, until I got the psychoscope attachment (I think?) that let me know when objects are mimics. Turning the tables like that and getting sneak kills feels very empowering.

      The cystoids, on the other hand, are truly awful when not encountered in microgravity. The fact that the weavers just shit them out is very annoying and really kind of a dick move on the weavers’ part.

      • Al Bobo says:

        Cystoids on normal gravity can be dealth with turrets, explosive barrels, heavy objects hurled with roid strength and black hole grenades. You can also lure them to good spots with your trusty Boltcaster.

        • Jekadu says:

          I was positively delighted when I realized that the Boltcaster could actually be used to kill Cystoids. Either shoot them and cause a chain reaction or fool them into attacking an empty spot, again causing a chain reaction.

        • Premium User Badge

          John Walker says:

          The Gloo gun is surprisingly effective against them too.

      • DUFFKING says:

        I thought that as well at first re: the psychoscope addon. I contemplated taking it off until I realised that it wasn’t as bulletproof as it originally appeared and therefore made it even better in a kind of “is there one in here and the scope just isn’t picking it up?” way.

  8. Snowskeeper says:

    I’ve had the opposite experience with combat–fighting Mimics is fun; everything else is drudgework–but then I’m restricting myself to human powers. For the most part, I end up following the same few steps for anything that isn’t hiding or fragile: knock down/stun, bash with wrench, repeat. Not particularly interesting and extremely effective. Feels difficult to justify anything else, given the scarcity of ammo.

  9. Artea says:

    “But larger Typhons with ranged attacks let you use your own methods, from a large pool. BioShock is definitely an influence here”

    I think this is an interesting bit of revisionist history. Arkane’s own Dark Messiah of Might and Magic predates Bioshock by a year, and did the ‘first-person action game with cool powers’ thing before it. Bioshock’s Plasmids are VERY similar to the spells in Dark Messiah, almost suspiciously so. Prey’s interface for switching between weapons and Neuromod powers also resembles Dark Messiah much more than it does Bioshock. Though obviously, System Shock 2 is the primary source of inspiration.

    • TΛPETRVE says:

      Actually, the first FPS with parallel wielding of magick and firearms was Clive Barker’s Undying, which ironically felt a lot like an earlier version of BioShock even in terms of how it was narrated.

    • Gwilym says:

      Equally notable: John describes January as the game’s “Jiminy Cricket” figure – however, the personification of the human conscience dates back to the age of Socrates.

      Please don’t revise history, John.

      • Snowskeeper says:

        Oh, for God’s sake; are you going to take umbrage at every other pop culture references while you’re here? Want to talk about how “Biblical proportions” should be “Sumerian Mythological proportions?”

        This is an incredibly silly thing to accuse someone of “revising history” over.

        • CrookedLittleVein says:

          I could be wrong but I believe Gwilym was joking.

          • Snowskeeper says:

            Looking at it in context, as opposed to as part of an email notification, and…

            Yep. Cue the Pacman death animation, please. Sorry, boss.

      • Artea says:

        I’m not sure if you’re just poking fun or also intended this to be a serious attempt to poke holes in my post, but I wasn’t simply pointing out that the article overlooked other possible sources of inspiration for Prey that came before Bioshock, I was pointing out that the article overlooked that such a game was already made by the SAME PEOPLE who made Prey. Bit of a difference, don’t you think?

        • Gwilym says:

          Mostly poking fun, but the Metroidvania discussion would’ve been a better place to do it, because you’re right, it being the same company does change things.

          I mean, I don’t agree: Prey’s cool powers feel more like Bioshock’s than Bioshock’s felt like Dark Messiah’s, and the part you quoted was talking about encounter design anyhow, but I can at least see where the ‘revisionist history’ comment was coming from.

          • Artea says:

            Of the 11 Plasmid powers in Bioshock, 8 are functionally similar or even identical to Dark Messiah’s spells. The only ones that aren’t are Insect Swarm (although setting an enemy on fire in Dark Messiah could produce a similar panicky ‘not the bees!’ flailing), Security Bullseye (obviously, Dark Messiah’s world doesn’t have robots and turrets) and Target Dummy (a distraction tool, likely a way to compensate for not having as fleshed out stealth mechanics like Dark Messiah did).

            I’m not saying Bioshock ripped off Dark Messiah or anything. Both games use a tried and true arsenal derived from fantasy archetypes. But that’s my point, Bioshock’s influence is vastly overstated. It’s just a shooter with cool powers, and the fact that even an unabashed action game like Dark Messiah has much more immersive sim DNA is pretty telling.

  10. Archonsod says:

    “I expect we’ll eventually learn horror stories about the game being rushed out without anything close to the ending they were hoping for. ”

    Given it’s Bethesda I think we’re more likely to learn the proper ending is in the third expansion/DLC.

    • Seyda Neen says:

      Has that ever happened in any Bethesda published game besides Fallout 3?

      • Snowskeeper says:

        Certainly happened in Skyrim; the entire Civil War is basically cut content. A modder was able to dig up a lot of the unfinished code; I think he’s still working on it.

        It smells like it happened in Fallout 4, too, given the abysmal way the game ends (IE it doesn’t, really; they just play a cutscene and stop telling the story, especially if you side with the Institute).

        • Premium User Badge

          Nauallis says:

          Oh hey, just posted a long reply to a point you weren’t making! So anyway, cut content in Bethesda games. Yeah. The oblivion gate take-downs in Oblivion felt like last-minute content changes rather than something specifically cut out – “So I just spent two hours clearing out this whole citadel of Daedra and minor godlings, and then I remove this one crystal and… poof? That’s it? No story here?”

        • Seyda Neen says:

          This is what the post I responded to said: “I think we’re more likely to learn the proper ending is in the third expansion/DLC.”

          Every game has cut content, that’s not what Archonsod is talking about, right? He refers to game endings being changed/restored and then sold as DLC. Modders restoring cut content is not at all the same thing.

        • poliovaccine says:

          Just an aside about that – from what I’ve read, the modder who was doing the Civil War restoration mod in Skyrim actually stopped and also took it down from the nexus in response to what he perceived to be an increasingly racist, sexist, toxic, and altogether unpleasant gaming community. I kinda think that might have been a microcosm of either nexusmods or the Skyrim reddit in particular, but there you have it. Apparently the guy was pretty routinely flamed and berated and even identified and harrassed on a personal level, and I guess after Trump won the election he kind of felt like the trolls were taking over the world, and the most noticeable form of protest he could do was to take down his popular mod and state exactly why. Apparently he is a civil rights attorney living in Texas (ouch), so as much as that may seem like an overreaction to some, it’s clear his days are filled with those issues and he’s got em on the mind. He says people are welcome to try and continue with the mod, if they think they got the grapes.

          Just wanted to fill in, since I happened to have stumbled upon the story the other day.

  11. Chitzkoi says:

    “I’m a massive wimp, but I can still wave a spanner around without needing a sit down after fifteen seconds. Not so Morgan.”

    Not to be too pedantic, but if you’re scared on a space station and an alien spider jumps in your face, you’ll be putting every ounce of strength into it rather than just “waving a spanner around”. Try taking a heavy wrench and launching four of five heavy swings in a row (as if you’re trying to do some actual damage) and I’ll bet you are knackered!

    I’m not bothered about the game getting worse toward the end. Deus Ex 1, Human Revolution, System Shock 2 all get noticeably much worse as they come to a conclusion. They’re all awesome games.

    Hopefully this tides me over until System Shock 3 comes along to haunt my dreams, just like its predecessor. Definitely next on my list! Nice review John, cheers.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      It takes as much stamina to wave it around in the air.

      It’s VERY silly.

      • Chitzkoi says:

        Well I haven’t played the game and I usually hate stamina bars.. so I almost certainly agree that it’s annoying. Do you mean hitting a monster takes the same amount of stamina as a swing and a miss? If so that’s a bit weird.

        It doesn’t necessarily make stamina unrealistic though, if survival horror really is the name of the game. Perhaps they should have made it a ‘1999 mode’ thing that you could switch off.

        • haldolium says:

          To be fair though, usually you run out of stamina when panicking which might be an issue with the approach. If you stealth-crit a Mimic, its almost or entirely dead (first almost, later entirely). I also think a heavy swing takes less stamina as two conclusive small swings while doing more damage.

      • Guvornator says:

        At one stage the game suggests it takes more than one person to move a small sofa out of the way of a door. I’m no athlete, but I could move a small sofa out of the way of a door.

      • Snowskeeper says:

        This isn’t true. If you miss with the wrench, the stamina is instantly regenned. The stamina is only removed if you actually hit something.

        Source: the game; I just went and tested it, first out of combat then in it. In both situations, whiffed swings are refunded.

      • poliovaccine says:

        Well, I havent played it so I dont know the backstory or anything, but maybe let’s say their muscles have atrophied because they’re in space.. that works, right? Maybe in space, when you’re tired or your back is sore, you can just turn down the artificial gravity the way we turn up the A/C.

  12. Diziet Sma says:

    Thanks for the review John, this provides enough nuance to let me know I’d enjoy the game mechanically. I must admit the 2 hour demo available on ye olde consoles put me off it, mostly because of the flailing around like an idiot feel of the combat.

  13. haldolium says:

    Good review, you share most of my thoughts (and phrase them better) upon System Shock 3 and why it feels simply delightful.

    What I found most impressive after 25h is that even if I’m getting constantly sidetracked, nothing ever feels like a chore or a grind or creates a clutter. Most exploring feels natural and the game doesn’t put a pressure to do things in a particular order or farming areas and continue to the next. And I’m still genuine intrigued to just go back to places I’ve already been.

    I would’ve put in other issues as the Mimic combat though, since after getting the scanner I scan rooms either way but for reasons of other surprises. And Mimics fall fast. They also run sometimes instead of fighting.

    What I found a bit repelling about the “non-cutscene” approach is the way it’s presented, especially with a variety of audio mixing and sound propagation issues the game sadly has. Too often you’re entering a new area and get like 2 minutes of radio talk which then interferes with local robot chat or actual combat takes place so you don’t get the message at all (or die). This “live” component can be annoying/distracting. Metal Gear handled that one pretty good when I think about the codec system.

    Never the less, this is a marvelous game. Surprisingly so, since I ignored anything marketing upfront as well.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      I did indeed have at one point three different voices talking at once. But I’d have that risk instead of cutscenes any day.

  14. Dewal says:

    Obviously not a real John review. As if he could like a game !

    On a serious note, I was completely unimpressed by all the trailer, screenshots and other things I saw about the game and I was perfectly happy with my life… Now I want to play this game very much but have neither time nor budget, and I’m sad.

  15. Kefren says:

    Once they remove Denuvo I’ll give it a go. Ditto for Resident Evil 7. Until then my backlog of other awesome games takes precedence. (By then this will probably be £9.99 so that’s cool too).

  16. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Great review.

    I love, love this game, my current GOTY candidate. This is in a year that already has had a stream of extraordinary releases.

    I’d write more, but I have to play Prey.

    Edit: Oh, and I don’t envy the people working on System Shock 3 and the SS1 remake. This will be a tough act to follow, especially on a comparatively tiny budget.

    • Chitzkoi says:

      “Edit: Oh, and I don’t envy the people working on System Shock 3 and the SS1 remake. This will be a tough act to follow, especially on a comparatively tiny budget.”

      Argh don’t say things like this. I’ve given up hope of downplaying my expectations for SS3. If it’s poor, massive disappointment is inevitable.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        It might be a great game, but I would mentally prepare for a poor reception. If they do changes to the gameplay mechanics, they risk enraging the backers who want (or think they want) the original experience, if they don’t they risk reviews saying “it feels so basic compared to Prey. Old fashioned – and not in a good way”.

        It will also be difficult to complete with the great Bioshocky art direction of this title.

  17. TΛPETRVE says:

    If I had to come up with a snappy sales pitch for this game, it would be “Imagine an alternate universe in which BioShock actually was the successor to System Shock it had originally been promised as.”

    This game is actually deeply aware of BioShock‘s development history, and jam-packed with references and meta commentary, from more obscure jokes such as the “space eel” running gag, to the entire bloody intro sequence, which is one of the most brilliant moments of a video game throwing shade at another I have ever seen. Prey is a great game on its own, but it hits a whole different level when you dig into its many references, and it continues a trend of metatextuality in gaming that I hope to see more of. Last year gave us DOOM, Dark Souls III, and Abzû; those were games mainly celebrating their own lineage. Prey on the other hand has the balls to openly criticise its ancestry, and it does so without being particularly petty or pretentious about it. That’s quite something, indeed.

    • dripgrind says:

      TΛPETRVE, I’d be interested to know more about the references you see to Bioshock. I guess you’re saying that the opening sequence of Prey is commenting on the Bioshock trip in the bathyscape in the way it shows you wonderful vistas of a city that you can’t really access? Whereas in Prey, you really can tour the whole station and go outside of it, so it’s a more fully realised place than Rapture.

      Are you saying the “space eels” are a reference to the slugs in Bioshock, or something else?

      • dripgrind says:

        Ah, I guess the presence of eels might be a reference to the fact that Bioshock was originally set on “an abandoned space station overrun with alien eels”:

        link to eurogamer.net

      • TΛPETRVE says:

        The space eels are precisely what you said. One of the enemies in the original BioShock prototype was called the “Eel Man”, a humanoid creature made up of wriggling eels. In fact, I’d say even the Phantom Typhons are a reference to said creature, they certainly look the way.

        As for the Prey intro, spoilers incoming:

        It is actually a call-out towards BioShock‘s celebrated but really just painfully asinine plot twist. In said turn of events, the game first basically explains to you why it was so linear up to this point, then tells you you’re now freed from your shackles – only to make the final chapter the most linear and meaningless part of the entire bloody game. Hell, it even completely forgets about its own mechanics when it tells you to kill yourself, even though it is established in the game’s narrative that you are practically immortal due to the resurrection chambers.

        Prey on the other hand basically deconstructs this entire setup by hurrying you through a similar “Would you kindly”-esque scenario with a “shocking” twist, but then actually opening up into a freely explorable sandbox. Even better it, even lets you examine and play with all the intricate functions of the mind game you had been trapped in. The game merely starts where BioShock already gave up.

        And here’s my favourite bit: The spanner you pick up as your first weapon? It is called the “Hephaestus Twist and Loop Handle Wrench”. Hephaestus was the area in BioShock where you killed Andrew Ryan. Here you literally use it as the tool that drives the plot forward, when you smash your bedroom window and get your first look into the real world.

        • Frank says:

          Ha, thanks for this! I wouldn’t have recognized most of those references.

  18. Guvornator says:

    “Morgan Wu”

    Morgan who?

  19. CrookedLittleVein says:

    I agree with most of this. Prey is indeed a great game and has been a surprise hit for me, given it was barely on my radar until about a month ago. Yes, there are some minor missteps and there are some glaring bugs (unfortunately par for the course with new releases) but overall I’d be surprised if this isn’t GotY, for me at least.

  20. MuscleHorse says:

    Another chiming in to say that this is easily the best game of the year so far.

    Have to disagree with John’s appraisal of the combat though. If you’re careful when entering a new room you can generally see the telltale signs of a mimic hiding; an object being in an odd place, it wobbling a little out of the corner of your eye… also wondering as to whether John used the goo gun on them at all, as that’s their counter when in actual combat – you freeze them in place and then smash them with a single heavy wrench hit. No need for panicked clicking.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      Yes, absolutely, and I especially love the checking for two of anything and getting suspicious. I should have mentioned that in the review. My issue is when they’re already attacking you, which of course is going to happen a lot, most especially with the tougher Mimics later on.

  21. Chaz says:

    Oh I always remember the ending credits at the end of Call of Duty 3. Possibly the longest I’ve ever sat through, they seemed to go on forever. They listed everyone, right down to some accountants secretary and the cleaning staff in some small out the way eastern european satellite office.

    I mean is it really necessary to list every single employee in the entire corporation? I wish these game credits would take a leaf out of the credits for films and just list people who actually had something to do with making the game.

  22. mavrik says:

    More than anything, this game reminds me of Dishonored 2 – form UI design, level design and the general art style. I’m enjoying it… but I also can’t get rid of the feeling that Dishonored 2 did the whole thing better, with more enjoyable combat (as John stated – shooting mimics is tedious at best and even for me even the large enemies require too much of a luck and repetition to kill consistently on harder difficulties. Way too easy to die from a stray shot.) and significantly more interesting level design.

  23. Stinnaz says:

    I’m probably only about halfway in, but I totally agree with the sentiment here and especially in the preview, that whilst the game’s location seems like it should be very restrictive, in reality it’s far, far less so. The whole of Talos 1 basically seems to fold back in on itself like an M.C. Escher piece, so although you regularly end up back in familiar territory, it’s often via wholly unfamiliar routes. As yet I certainly haven’t felt like I’m cramped up in the ISS or that I’m constantly retreading the same steps anyway – it just genuinely feels like everything is connected on all axes and not just so many levels connected only by the door you pass through.

    Basically I’m loving the level design, to the point where it actually feels a little cheap to even refer to it as just level design.

  24. n00dle42 says:

    Uh, John, doesn’t that last image potentially present a massive spoiler? I mean, I just started the game, but I know it’s played entirely from 1st person perspective. In the image you posted, we can clearly see female Morgan standing next to Alex, and *SOMEONE* IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM HOLDING THE GLOO GUN?!?!

    • renner says:

      He (or I guess, she) is watching a Looking Glass video recording of herself and Alex.

      • n00dle42 says:

        Ah, right, I forgot the LG recordings are in 3d. Well, hope you’re right!

    • Otterley says:

      Without you mentioning the details, it wouldn’t have been a spoiler for me.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      Sorry for the confusion – no, it’s not a spoiler at all, just a video file.

      • TimePointFive says:

        ehhh. if i’m not mistaken…

        SLIGHT SPOILERS AVOID READING FURTHER

        …That’s the very last Looking Glass vid you see, and it IS a BIT of a spoiler. The screenshot unfortunately did tint my suspicions of the plot (though, thankfully I suspected wrong). But nevertheless, if it is indeed the part I think it is, it’s one of those “narrative immersion breakers” rather than a spoiler. Like someone telling you there’s a big twist at the end of a movie will skew your initial viewing of it. It needs to go, it negatively affected my playthrough, at least.

  25. nattydee says:

    Oh gosh it really is fantastic, isn’t it? I’m not super far in – I’ve been taking my time exploring all the nooks and crannies – but there are so many compelling threads to pull on – Neuromods (Prey’s version of plasmids, basically) and their social implications, Typhon as an evil alien force that the game goes to some lengths to establish that no, actually, they’re just so alien they have no concept of evil, the alternate history that spawned Talos 1, and Talos 1 as a setting in general.

    I think if anything playing Prey makes me realize how bad Bioshock 1 was. It’s akin to System Shock 2 in the way that Skyrim is akin to Oblivion – they were newer, dumber, prettier games and (at the time) I didn’t know any better. But the way Prey blends my favorite parts of System Shock 2, Dishonored and Deus Ex make for such a fantastic experience. It’s does survival horror so well, too! I love it.

  26. Frank says:

    What? No, the ending was fine, and I’m pretty sure that I *did* skip the credits by pressing ESC. What a weird, over-the-top complaint.

    If you don’t like this ending, you better not praise Bioshock’s. This addresses related issues 100x better and more coherently.

    Regarding it being rushed, I think they just set their priorities straight from the beginning — basic art, enemies made of goop, not too many audio logs, player combat animations from every game ever (swing a thing, shoot a thing, shoot a thing with colors), no reflective surfaces, the mirror in the trailer notwithstanding. It is all about consistent simulation, with characterization, story and combat just being window dressing.

    This may seem like a cop-out, but your other complaints, I attribute them to the nature of the world, not its design. So I slip when climbing because, damn it, climbing is hard. I can’t understand the GUTS map, because, damn it, this megacorp needs to make maps better suited to its spaces. Quests end with duds because, yeah, that’s life man, not everything is an opportunity to cheer for yourself and your heroism. Heck, you may be the least heroic person on this cursed station.

    My main beef was the use of damage types. I mean, sure, it’s tried and true, but it’s super lame. I’d rather have seen enemies with some symmetry with Morgan, like having armor that reduces damage, like Morgan’s does.

    My favorite moments were when I learned about someone personally important to Morgan and thought “hey, I’ll go find ’em” an then I did. Or when I saw a locked safe played up with a lot of pomp and thought “hm, I can’t find a way to get in. This must be something super important that I’ll come back to after raiding its owner’s quarters” and I was totally wrong, but the game let me believe whatever I wanted based on the evidence without beating me over the head with “WOT YU NEED 2 KNOW ABOOT MY STORY AND TEHMES” like most modern games.

    Btw, I played the game without even trying the “be a cup” skill (or any alien skills) and had a blast.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      “Rushed” very specifically refers to the ending sequences, which are catastrophically poor, and not any other part of the game.

      There appears to be something odd with the credits, with some unable to skip, others able. I verified it was the case for others before including it.

      Meanwhile, the practice of excusing every bug, bad design and poor aspect of a game to post-hoc “realism” is terrible criticism.

      And yes, BioShock’s ending was shit. The entire final third was a mess.

      • Frank says:

        Heh, I realize it’s terrible criticism, but nonetheless it represents my experience while playing. Along the same lines as those I mentioned, when I realized I had to use computers to grab crew locations, I thought “Wow is this annoying (particularly in one area where I never got access to the security computer) but hey that’s Talos 1 for you.” If I wanted to be fair and consistent in my criticism across games, I might say it’s bad UI and bad game design instead.

        Fortunately, that’s not my job. Apart from being able to evaluate games subjectively and on a sliding scale (with immersive sims given a lot of slack, in my case), I get to quit games like Dishonored 2 (which made me sick) after playing it for 2 minutes with nary a thought dedicated to rationalizing my harsh judgment on it. You do good work, and I’m sure I’d get justly savaged if I were writing criticism in such a prominent place as RPS posts.

        Thanks for the reply and the review. Re the ending, that makes sense.

  27. poliovaccine says:

    Typical John Walker hit piece!

    • Snowskeeper says:

      The comment notification system, which displays the first paragraph of the post in addition to the comment you’re being notified of, makes this comment so much better.

  28. aircool says:

    Question. Will I end up looking in every container, bashing every box and rummaging through furniture to find food, drinks and small amounts of ammo/cash?

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Are you homeless?

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      If you are playing on Hard or above, ammo and other resources are incredibly scarce, so careful scavenging does help a lot. It depends on your playstyle though, without revealing too much.

      • aircool says:

        OCD – I have to bash every crate and search every container. I can’t help it.

        • Snowskeeper says:

          If it helps, there’s a certain kind of grenade that allows you to boil most objects, including enemies and corpses, down into crafting ingredients.

  29. Chitzkoi says:

    Went and bought this when I got home from work… compelling and horrible in a wonderful, wonderful way. I can see myself enjoying and dreading every minute of this game, from the viewpoint of just a couple of hours in.

  30. Cartras says:

    “A bad ending doesn’t spoil a fantastic game” ME3 would like to have a word with you.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      To tell me about great endings that everyone misunderstood?

      • Wulfram says:

        What’s to misunderstand? Its not exactly complicated. Glowing kid shows up, offers clunky exposition. Then you pick between

        1. The sensible ending with added genocide because we don’t want too many people to take this option
        2. Doing the thing Shepard has been pointing out is obviously stupid the whole game
        3. Make everyone glow green which will fix everything somehow.

        Explosions of appropriate colour

        (If extended cut, add a final cutscene that says “THIS IS A HAPPY ENDING OK, STOP SENDING US SARCASTIC CUPCAKES”)

  31. Marclev says:

    built out of the bricks of a dozen other classic games (think System Shock, BioShock, Deus Ex, Metroid Prime)

    Stopped reading at this point. OMG shut up and take my ****ing money already, dammit!

    • Marclev says:

      And a week later, got to the end. For anybody still wondering, yes it really is that good.

  32. jquinn914 says:

    I’m sorry “Combat, at the start, is bloody awful. Avoidable in the most part, but still awful. Mimics are the critters of Prey, spidery beasts that can take on the shape of any small object, and then sproing into their gooey black skittering form with a big orchestral blast. That’s a brill idea, but unfortunately in execution they’re deeply tedious. Their attacks are very close-up, which is not useful in a first-person game, and your only weapon at the start is a wrench. Mimics move so fast, and get so in your face, that you end up waving it around like an idiot – something made even more annoying by there being the most ridiculous stamina bar for such an action. I’m a massive wimp, but I can still wave a spanner around without needing a sit down after fifteen seconds. Not so Morgan.” This is bullshit – Nines Rodriguez
    This is like saying “Dark Souls combat is awful. I spammed my attacks and couldn’t roll away. You need to think and it requires some mechanical skill so it’s bad. This is exactly what Bioshock, Dishonored, and the whole bunch lack. They’re all face rolls. It’s not a game when it’s not challenging. It’s not unfairly challenging at all either. I’m playing on Nightmare and every time I die I find a way to overcome same challenge. Saying combat is awful because your bad at a game that is more challenging than you expected is ludicrous.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      “at the start”

      Never mind.

      • jquinn914 says:

        #1 anticipate fanbois like me. #2 at the start, I had very little trouble. Whack suspicious objects, know your range and mimic tendencies, stay on them like glue (like Winston on a mercy) and they can’t do much under controlled pressure. I’ve only exhausted myself once or twice and it was me getting caught up in the spam rather than sticking to my methods. The first time I died was the first phantom when you just get out of tutorial area. I didn’t know their capabilities. I tried turrets and to my surprise it knocked them both over with ease. Then I set my turrets up further back, baited it through doorway without full on alerting (thing starts warpin around), and caught it with a stream of gloo, one whack and turrets did the rest. You have more resources and tactics available to you than you think even early on.

  33. Crimsoneer says:

    I’ve actually really enjoyed mimics – the jump scares really work for me, and even when you’ve gotten comfortable with the game dynamics, one will still jump out with you at the very worst moment. Probably while you’re running from a weaver somewhere.

  34. foop says:

    How much longer do we have to put up with these reviews from the awful John Walker, a man who hates every computer game?

    /s

    Glad to see you enjoyed it. I thought I’d put it on my “wait for a sale” list, but your positive review is the final straw. I shall probably buy it this weekend.

  35. Kingseeker Camargo says:

    Ah, for a moment there I thought Prey for the Gods was already released.

    • TimePointFive says:

      Because of this game, Bethesda sued the devs and now it’s called Praey for the Gods. I shit you not.

  36. reaces says:

    I don’t usually comment on reviews, but your review matched my own experience damn near perfectly with one exception. And if possible I’d like to see why that is.

    The exception is the ending. I did not at all dislike the ending.

    Mild spoilers ahead.
    I took the ending that has you follow the choices of your brother, Alex.
    This ending has a small standoff, with final argumentation between Alex and January which fit perfectly into the larger narrative. And has you making the final choice on who to follow.

    I really enjoyed the exposition of my actions, and the shot of earth after the facts. The revelation of who and what you are was a bit bland, but it was the only logical conclusion.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is, the ending made narrative sense. And it was closer to a whole minute’s worth of exposition of the side quests and choices you made. So I don’t really understand that part of your review and am left wondering if I perhaps missed something.

  37. Robstafarian says:

    This game sounds like it is absolutely perfect for the way I like to play, except that the enemies would set off my extremely painful startle reflex far too often. No joke, I had to stop the original Half-Life at the first head crab.

  38. Jaeja says:

    Late to the party, but (having just finished it – mild spoilers):

    The ending is IMO pretty well-telegraphed by the Project Cobalt audio file; that and the information given about mirror neurons meant that I was expecting the “twist”, making it a nice payoff rather than a nasty surprise. The pieces are all there, but perhaps a little too well-hidden?

  39. DeadCanDance says:

    Now it’s all patched up… damn it’s a fine gem of a game. I’m sad to know it will end eventually.