As of today, you can download a one-hour demo of Prey; Arkane Studious’ latest title published under Bethesda Softworks. In a similar vein to Arkane’s other popular series – Dishonored – the game sees you sneaking around, choosing how to best approach any combat situation.
It’s a reboot of the Prey ‘series’ (though that’s generous, as the sequel was canned) that started back in 2006, and sees you playing as Morgan Yu. The demo opens to Yu waking up in a pretty snazzy apartment, and being invited to take part in some experiments at a nearby lab. Things, not so surprisingly, take a bit of a turn for the worse, and you’re soon fending for your life on a dizzying space station.
I won’t lie: Prey wasn’t exactly on my horizon until I heard there was going to be a free demo available. As shown with last year’s excellent Resident Evil 7 demo, I’m a complete sucker for free content. Let’s be honest: it’s probably the best way to market your game. I can’t count the number of times a trailer looked great, but the full game just wasn’t for me; something which may not be so beneficial for companies trying to swindle their audiences, but that’s not my concern.
So I loaded up the demo not really knowing what to expect, and enjoyed the richly detailed environments you wander around in before shit hits the fan. If you want to pick up a bottle of wine or toss around some kitchen implements, you can; we’re truly living in the next-gen. Graphically, the game isn’t outstanding, but it’s serviceable and the human characters are at the very least interesting to look at. The mysterious alien threat in the game – called the ‘Typhon’ – are also relatively unique, though reminiscent of Venom from the Spider-man universe.
But how’s it feel to play? Well, that’s where things start to get a bit shaky. From the opening twists and turns of the plot, I was already hooked and ready to crack on with the game itself, but once I picked up a firearm for the first time…not so much.
You start, like in Bioshock, with a wrench to club your foes with. It’s not long until you get your hands on a shotgun and silenced pistol – both of which feel awkward to handle. Somehow, Prey manages to even make aiming a gun a challenge; instead of aiming down sights, you press the right-stick (on PS4) to zoom in a bit, and then up and down on the D-pad to adjust the level of zoom. God help you if an enemy darts around (which they do), because this results in losing track of them immediately and likely succumbing to their fairly basic melee attacks.
Credit where credit’s due: the ‘Mimic’ enemies are at least interesting in that they replicate an item in the environment in order to hide until you’re within slashing-range. This makes for some amusing moments where two bins might be alongside each other, and you need to decide whether to risk a bullet trying to uncover the creature, or just run in swinging. Alternatively, like Arkane’s other titles, you can just avoid combat altogether. Stealth is a viable option, though the demo didn’t have much in the way of options when it came to open-world gameplay; something the full game promises.
As touched upon, I’m intrigued when it comes to Prey‘s narrative. While I wasn’t wowed by the gameplay, the opening story beats have got me curious and wanting to know where it’ll be taken. Does this justify a purchase? That’s for you to decide, really. For story-driven games, I can definitely see the appeal of a mysterious narrative that pulls a bait-and-switch within the opening minutes. For others, it may be a more difficult sell.
Regardless of what kind of player you are, I’d recommend checking out the Prey demo, so that you can gauge if it’s the kind of thing you’re looking for. The full game is due out on May 5th, and will be on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Give it a go – it might just be your new Bioshock.
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