To be blunt, Prey wasn’t anywhere near my list of games I was excited for in 2017. Call me shallow, but the trailers failed to light the fire of curiosity within me. Colour me impressed then that Prey not only pleasantly surprised me, but it may be the best successor to the Deus Ex and System Shock template.
Prey is an odd beast. Arkane Studios personal quest to continue ‘0451’ design philosophy has already given us the excellent Dishonored series. But to follow last years Dishonored 2 with a more slow-paced, cerebral interpretation of its core mechanical playset has served Prey well.
Despite having the unoriginal premise of a space station under alien attack, Prey has one of the most original opening hours in years. Talos 1, a secretive space station orbiting the moon, has been infested with the oil like Typhon. Waking up hours after the outbreak, you must explore the station looking for clues as to what happened and if anyone is left alive.
One of Prey’s biggest strengths is in how much freedom it gave me to follow its breadcrumbs. Story beats are few and far between (outside of the final ¼ – more on that later). In these large sections of downtime I generally had 3-4 other threads to follow, and a handful of ways to accomplish them. Tool after tool was handed to me, be it gun, power, or other.
My favourite touch was that every human resident of the station was named. Personnel logs let me look up specific people, taking me straight to them and sometimes saving me some hassle. It’s one of many small details that show Arkane’s prowess at environment design that rewards a careful eye and imaginative thinking. A locked door may have had one solution to me, but there are likely two or three that would be more apparent to someone else.