The out-of-this world setting reeks of BioShock, the gruesome, dark hallways remind me of Doom, and the use of portals and gravity trickery are of course reminiscent of Portal. But despite some creative ideas, it doesn’t pull off any of these concepts as perfectly as the games mentioned here do. Whilst it’s a dark and twisted romp through a horror-filled alien vessel that you’re likely to enjoy, the whole thing is delivered to an average standard, far from Prey’s potential.
Prey is a game filled to the brim with ideas. There are Portal-inspired sequences where you go through boxes and portals that take you to a completely different area of the alien world, and levels where gravity paths enable you to walk up walls and onto ceilings. Prey is great at messing with your perspective. Like the sequence where you first peer into a small, gravitating earth ball in a small glass cube, only to go through a portal and find yourself miniaturised onto that sphere, and a huge alien monster peering through the glass. Scenes like these really make Prey a memorable and fresh experience.
Portals aren’t much used for puzzles though (that space is taken by Portal). Unfortunately, they don’t really have any other role and take the backseat, acting as handy devices to get you from A to B in an instant and to spawn enemies. The gravity manipulation devices are much more interesting. You’ll be walking up a wall when enemies spawn on the ceiling, leading to a skewed combat scenario. Of course, when the enemies die, normal gravity kicks in and you see them fly towards you to the real ground. It’s bizarre, but makes shooting so much more enjoyable.
But anti-gravity tricks aren’t the only quirks laden in Prey’s alien horror story. You play a skeptical native-american, Domasi “Tommy” Tawodi, who ignores his grandfather’s ramblings about his sacred ancestors and the spirits he should worship. However, despite his disbelief, he gains ancient native powers. These powers enable him to remove his spirit from his body, and reach places he couldn’t in flesh and bone. When you die, rather than kicking you back to a checkpoint, you are sent into the spirit world. You regain your health and spirit points by spearing airborne ghostly creatures and then return back to the real world with regained vigour. The more you die, the harder it becomes to regain your health.
You pick up new weapons as you play through the game, each an unhealthy blend of organic alien flesh and wired mechanics. Whilst your armoury isn’t anything too special in function, they are still pretty awesome to use and look at.
The plotline is one of the game’s weaker points. Torn between a sensual spiritual focus and gory over-the-top savagery, the plot takes a long, long time to get anywhere interesting. Even when it does, the all encompassing blood and butchery desensitises you from feeling any emotion for the unfortunate in-game characters.
The flying sections of the game, where you command an airborne vehicle, are also a bit lacklustre and get repetitive quickly.
Graphics wise, Prey looks a little dated, but not noticeably. Everything is slimy and sticky; the walls, the floors, the enemies, giving it all a bit of unattractive, gooey shine.
Enemies are another interesting component in Prey. They range from two-legged, fleshy-red creatures that bound towards you, to flying laser-shooting robots to deformed humans with numerous added limbs and eyes and what not.
It’s obvious Prey wants to be scary. The rooms are blood-soaked and enemies are frankly… disgusting. But this in-your-face gore lacks credibility and doesn’t achieve its aim at scaring the crap out of you.
In all, Prey’s best times are when the game uses gravity-shifting mechanics and mind-bending portals. But it fails to recognise this, placing you in bloody room after bloody room of gruesome creatures to fight off. The lack of a horror aspect cause these scenes to get repetitive after a while. Prey definitely has some solid satisfying combat, but it could have been so much better, if there was more inventive utilisation and focus on the game’s strengths and creative ideas.
Publisher: Aspyr Entertainment
Price: $9.99 (£9.99)
Description: A Basic Bloody FPS
Pros: Many creative ideas, good graphics, some extremely satisfying combat and gravity manipulation scenarios.
Cons: Under utilisation of said creative ideas means Prey turns out to be a generic shooter, story lacks impact.