Bethesda Softworks, Arkane Studios, and Human Head Studios’ reboot of Prey should have been met with a ton of fanfare, but the PC problems and rushed reviews killed Prey with faint praise and worthy criticism.
Since launch, Prey has only seemed to do worse. It racked up a stunning number of bland reviews, and one or two angry rants about how broken it was on PC.
But there are so many moments in Prey that deserve your attention. The opening hour of gameplay- in which you literally shatter an elaborate illusion and start uncovering dark secrets is absolutely haunting. That credit sequence will stick with me for years.
The intricately crafted emails in the Talos-I space station weave an incredibly complex story told in a modern episotalry format. In a lot of ways, reading your former coworkers emails in Prey is a lot like reading Stephen King‘s Carrie for the first time. Regardless of your opinions on King’s later career, what he manages to create in Carrie is an engaging story told in a unique way- like a fictional time capsule filled with court documents, research, narrative, and fictional legal testimony.
It sincerely pains me to write this review, because there is so much of Prey that I love and enjoyed. The story, the lovingly crafted, impeccably detailed world, the multiple options for playstyle progress, there is so much going for Prey, but also so much against it.
To finish my review, I ended up picking the game up on console. And it positively shined there. But that can’t make up for the fact that 1/3 of Prey was so broken it was rendered completely unplayable for countless PC players once they got late in the game.
The combat isn’t the smoothest. In fact, it’s a lot like combat in The Elder Scrolls IiI: Morrowind in the way that it’s a janky simulacrum of realistic combat. But that’s a forgivable sin.
The investigative techniques, customizable body modifications, multiple progression avues, they all make up for the shitty combat.
The hacking mechanic is as stilted as hacking always is in games- it’s a pointless reflex based minigame that wasn’t needed- but I can deal with that. It’s what hacking has been in video games for a long time now.
My overall impressions are incredibly positive, and I’d love to tell you that Prey is absolutely worth it and give the game a score to reflect that.
BUt even though the PC problems are patched, there’s just so much wrong with Prey on PC, that I can’t in good conscience give it the score I feel it should deserve. Because Arkane Studios didn’t fulfill their promise. They delivered a broken product to at least 1/3 of their potential customers, and a broken product to many of their reviewers.
So even though that opening sequence will haunt me for months to come, and even though I love so much of the ingenuity that went into this game, I can only recommend it on two platforms.
If you aren’t playing Prey on Xbox One or PS4, I cannot guarantee that you’ll experience the game that I have. And do Prey gets 2/3 of the score it should have earned.
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