In February of this year I got a chance to play the opening hour of Prey, the upcoming sci-fi thriller from Arkane Studios. It was a short look at the game but it hinted at big promises in its gameplay and story. The game is coming out soon, but before it does, I got one more chance to get my hands on it. Before you read on, I highly recommend checking out my preview from the opening hour of Prey so you can be caught up on the game’s story and gameplay mechanics.
The most recent build I played put me about 2-3 hours into the game. The location was set in the Psychotronics laboratory as my character, Morgan Yu, was searching for a “Psychoscope.” The “Psychoscope” allows Morgan to scan enemies to learn their strengths and weaknesses. Scanning the enemies also unlocks the alien powers, which were the focus point of the demo.
The inclusion of alien powers gives Morgan an extra set of tactics to choose from when fighting the Typhon. Alien powers are optional but if they are used be warned: the security turrets scattered around the space station, Talos-1, will perceive Morgan as an alien threat and can deal out plenty of damage.
Each power is broken up into three main types with their own set of branches that require “Neruomods” to upgrade. “Neruomods” are also used to upgrade the non-alien powers. In order to upgrade the abilities, Morgan must scan different types of Typhon with the “Psychoscope.” The “Psychoscope” can also be modified with chipsets that add perks like faster scanning.
The three types of alien powers are: energy, morph and telepathy. Through the demo I mostly used kinetic blast, which is part of the energy skill. Kinetic blast created a small explosion that pushes away anything in its path. It’s a destructive skill that proved fairly useful even though I was using a lower level.
I occasionally used the mimic skill, which allowed me to change Morgan into small objects like a book or a canister. This skill allowed me to sneak past enemies but I had little luck in doing so during the demo. It’s one of the few instances of stealth gameplay in a game that encourages an aggressive approach to combat.
Overall the alien powers did little to hook me in what I’ve played so far. That’s not a swipe at its gameplay, by the way. In total I’ve had about two hours with Prey before its May 5 release, so it’s not enough time to even think about judging the game. But it did give me a sense the gameplay will only carry me so far. I may wind up eating those words after playing the final version, but it’s the story and world Arkane built that’s keeping me interested in Prey.
The story and environment are enthralling in the opening hours of the game. Arkane proved they can create a compelling world with Dishonored, and that same talent and creativity is found in the early parts of Prey. There’s a spirit in the game that’s been molded by some of the best sci-fi movies out there. Arkane has tipped their hand at this, putting on screenings of four films that have influenced the creation of the game: Moon, Starship Troopers, The Matrix and Total Recall. Each of those movies hints at the themes found in Prey.
Prey can’t lean solely on its story though to hook players. It will be interesting to see what thread pulls the whole thing together. Prey releases on May 5, 2017 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.