Prey is an upcoming FPS survival horror game from Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks, the development-publisher combination behind 2012’s Dishonored. Prey is a re-imagining of a 2006 game of the same name but only really takes the name and concept of ‘survive being the prey of an aggressive alien enemy’ from this game.
What we know so far from teasers, trailers and reviewers being given is the first hour or so to play is that you play as Morgan Yu (with both male and female models available) who appears to live in 2032 San Francisco. However, this takes place in a timeline were JFK survives assassination, the US and USSR work together to defeat an alien force known as the Typhon, who are attracted to Earth by their space technology and thus, we have a future with much more advanced space technology. However, this reality comes crumbling down in the first ten minutes or so as it is revealed you are actually on Talos I, a space station orbiting Earth, and you have been the subject of repetitive neural modification testing, with the removal of mods wiping the memories of their implant time, meaning that you as Morgan have been experiencing the worst Groundhog Day ever. In the only testing time you see, it all ends abruptly as you watch a researcher get attacked by a shape-shifting monster known as a Mimic. It is then revealed very quickly that you are essentially alone on Talos I with the mimics and their ‘evolutions’, with only an AI called January for company.
From what we’ve seen, Prey looks to be a tense blend of Alien: Isolation open-world survival horror with the smooth, fluid combat of Dishonored and Bioshock, with the powers and uneasy atmosphere of both those games also added to the mix. Prey is out worldwide on the of May but before then, here are 4 things I want from the game.
1. It stays scary. Horror can be one of the hardest elements to maintain in a game. Sometimes a game can just run out of steam and the horror/scare elements just don’t spike the player’s heart rate towards the end of the game. Or the introduction of a security weapon mean that I don’t have to be scared because look at my awesome gun.
It seems there is no end to what the mimic class enemies in Prey can shape-shift into- coffee cups, bins, even discarded guns lying beside corpses. However, the game needs to be careful that we go into every room so terrified that we miss the third shoe in a pair or waste an entire clip of ammo because a basketball lazily rolls across our line of sight and that we don’t go into every room, ready to sigh at a cheap mimic jump scare.
Towards end of the reviewer played content (Here are a few videos if you want to watch some of that or hear people who play video games for a living talk about the game), you are teased with the sight of a Phantom through a window. This enemy class is bipedal and distinctly humanoid, rather than the four-legged, spider-like mimics. Trailers for the game also tease gargantuan, presumably boss-fight creatures that, personally, give off a definite Cthulhu vibe. Only time will tell if the proper introduction of these enemies diminishes the horror and suspense of the game.
2. Tools are sparse but useful. Prey will feature degrading weapons and a crafting system, requiring you to build new tools and weapons to replace your equipment. From gameplay, your main weapon appears to be a hefty wrench but pistols and shotguns also feature, as does the Gloo Cannon, a gun that fires a quick hardening expanding foam that can be used to freeze enemies, create alternate paths through the game’s various sections and can even put out fires if needs be. However, there are two things that will destroy this game- durability on your tools is too high due to the tools being too sparse, making the crafting system useless, or the inverse and having weak tools in plentiful supply. Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite are two examples of perfect balance for this, with new powers being introduced at a nice pace and ammunition for your various firearms being in good supply but not in enough abundance to allow you to shoot your way through every mission objective. And speaking of powers…
3. Balance across Neuromod trees. For players of Dishonored and/or Bioshock, neuromods will be the games version of Outsider powers and plasmids. For everyone else, neuromods will be the skill trees of the game. You find neuromods lying around Talos I and they give you upgrades to your skills in a variety of areas such as security and physical attributes. These mods will not only aid your game, but also give you access to specific areas and alternate paths through the game,. For example, a terminal that allows a route around an area that looks like it could be crawling with mimics may only be usable with a specific neruomod installed. However, for the game to deliver on this, there needs to be balance- if I’m shoving my mods into A and neglected B, I shouldn’t have to miss out on everything because a majority of the off the path content is unlockable by B.
4. The multiple endings can’t be a cop-out. Lead designer Ricardo Bare has stated that the ending of the game falls into one of two major narratives depending on how you as Morgan interact with the world and the surviving humans along the way. Now, multiple endings can be very hard to pull off. A good example of this is the recently released Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Spoilers ahead for that game). At the end of the game’s second act, you have a choice of who to administer the last syringe of mind-control mold counter-acting serum to- your wife Mia, who has been missing for three years and is visibly affected by the mold (she cuts off your hand with a chainsaw in the first twenty minutes of the game) OR Zoe, the enigmatic stranger and black sheep of the Baker family, who has been infected along with the rest of her family but has not actually succumb to the crazy. If you choose Mia, the two of you get on a boat and speed off towards the tanker that was carrying Evie, a supernatural little girl who is the cause of the mind-control mold. Evie crashes your boat and then you play as Mia for a little bit before you jump back to main protagonist Ethan just in time for a tearful goodbye from Mia, who pushes you out of a door and seals you off from her so that she won’t hurt you any more (again, she did cut off your hand). However, if you choose Zoe, the two of you get on the boat, go towards the tanker and then Evie just straight up kills Zoe and crashes your boast before you then wake up as Mia, who is now just there at the tanker. After some more Ethaning around, you defeat Evie and are rescued by Blue Umbrella (another blog post for another time) and fly away with a now fully cured Mia. But that’s if you cured Mia, if you used your cure on Zoe, you get saved by Blue Umbrella, rewatch a video message Mia made you before her disappearance, toss your phone out of the helicopter and then fly away. While Resident Evil games have always had a good ending and a bad ending, this seemed less like that and more like Capcom having the game as having a right ending and a wrong ending.
This is what Prey needs to avoid. If multiple endings are going to be part of the game, then they should be equally satisfying and serve as a reflection of how I played the game, rather than as a ‘punishment’ for picking a choice that the developers deemed to be ‘wrong’.
Are you looking forward to Prey? What are you looking for in the final game? Let me know in the comments below and if you’ve got some time, why don’t you have a look at some of the other things I’ve written?