Prey Hands-on Preview
Last week I was invited to a Prey hands-on event in Los Angeles and to be honest I wasn’t exactly sure what expect. Myself, along with several other media types, were given an exclusive demo of the game on high-end PCs. We were told we would be playing, essentially, the first hour of the game. Granted, I have seen a few snippets of the game here and there, but I was still in the dark about what Prey would truly offer.
Jumping into the game, I felt refreshed by the simple option of choosing between a male or female protagonist. Wondering if the game offered any variation based on gender, I chose female. Right off the bat, it felt like a Bethesda game. Prey offers a very interactive environments from manipulating electronics and amenities to grabbing explosives and tossing against obstacles. It provided all the immersion I’ve come to expect from a Bethesda game.
“Graphic design in the game is serene and polished, without an interruption of immersion.”
Initially, I was clueless about what was going on in the narrative. Yet that’s of little consequence when you’re just looking out a helicopter window and noticing all this attention to aesthetic. Graphic design in the game is serene and polished, without an interruption of immersion. Granted, I didn’t know the specs of the PC, but my framerate never faltered.
Prey’s tutorial is in a lab setting which naturally reminded me of Half-life. Eventually, I started to wonder where the tutorial was taking me (usually this is not something you should have to stop and think about) but as soon I did, that’s what I saw my first alien.
The alien introduction in this game is as it should be, a startling surprise. I immediately felt that fear and excitement one would hope from a good sci-fi horror. That’s how I saw the game during my playthrough – a sci-fi horror. Admittedly, not in the vein of Dead Space or Bioshock, but as something very unique.
My every second in Prey was accompanied by suspense and wonder. Arkane studios supplements this through the scheme of environmental storytelling. I was learning about characters and my environment by checking terminals, inspecting objects, and everything surrounding.
“Aliens in Prey are terrifying, partly because of how quickly they can annihilate you but also because of the surprise factor.”
It isn’t long before I realized in-game weapons and tools could be one and the same; your own mind compelled to function similarly. There’s probably nothing else to better epitomize this synchronization than the wrench, which is your first tool and essential to the game. This single item renders significance to various objects, accessing content through its repair functionality and hitting things. More importantly, it will keep you alive. I learned this as the first alien came my way.
Aliens in Prey are terrifying, partly because of how quickly they can annihilate you but also because of the surprise factor. You can’t exactly anticipate where or when they’ll reveal themselves. Discovering weapons like the Gloo Cannon; however, helps alleviate some of that fear and it’s so rewarding. As a weapon that freezes enemies, the Gloo Cannon doubles as a platform builder since you can hop onto the concentrations of ‘Gloo’ it fires, which allows easy reach of high places. Finding this single weapon launched my imagination into the possibilities of Prey. I contemplated what other creative designs would come my way in the full game, how they might double as tools and help progression.
As I progressed, the black shape of the alien called Mimic repeatedly hit my screen with a jump scare. Eerie sounds and music facilitate those jump scares, and it just works so well. When a full-fledged fight gets underway, music is a pulse-pounding combination of awesome and frightening. Eerie audio just adds to the deterioration of your surroundings and always contributes to the suspense. Because of that, Prey’s atmosphere is on point.
Speaking of environment, exploration is BIG in Prey. There’s a lot to see, items to discover, lore-related objects around corners. It is unfortunate the demo lasted as long as it did because I wanted to play more. Prey is showing a tremendous amount of potential and I cannot wait to check it out when it releases.