Prey review

Released in 2006, the original Prey was a first person shooter (FPS) which saw your character, a Cherokee named Domasi "Tommy" Tawodi being abducted (along with his girlfriend and grandfather) by aliens and trying to escape from their living ship by solving puzzles and fighting the aliens. It was well received at the time, but the planned sequel, Prey 2, suffered from a number of development setbacks and was finally cancelled in 2014. This release of Prey is more of an imagining of the franchise, rather than a sequel, and uses very little of the original game's concepts but it does offer gamers something tantalising instead; it was developed as a spiritual sequel to the classic space survival FPS game System Shock.

Fighing Typhon mimics with the GLOO canonMorgan Yu's first day at work couldn't be called typical. After waking, dressing and being flow to their first day at work via helicopter, though a very picturesque San Francisco cityscape, Morgan is welcomed by big brother Alix and set to work performing some rather strange tests while being assessed by a group of scientists. And when one of these scientists is attacked by a strange, four legged spider-like alien, life gets very strange indeed.

Set on board the huge space station, Talos One, Prey sees Morgan coming to terms with who he is, what has been happening to him and how he fits into what is happening. Infested with vicious aliens, the black wraith-like Typhon, and badly damaged, Talos One is a combination of research, development and engineering labs as well as an arboretum, living quarters and essential systems (such as power and life support). As you solve the main and side quests which make up the story, you are free to explore each area as well as the outside of the station although some areas are off limits until you locate the required access card, learn (or hack) the access code or work out a way past any obstructions. Each areas is large, well designed and detailed with alternate routes, computers, notes and books to read as well as items which can be collected and used later (such as ammunition or food) or converted into their base materials in a recycler (a machine which strips them down) so they can be used to craft new items in an fabricator (which is a type of 3D printer).

Not everything is what it seems on Talos One

One of the most important items being researched at Talos One is the Neuromod, a type of injection (shot) which instantly allows you to learn new skills or enhance your mental or physical attributes. Neuromods allow you to upgrade Morgan's skills with a certain number required for each skill on the tree. Initially there are three skill trees available based on science, engineering and combat but other trees will be unlocked as you progress through the game with special skills, some of which require research as well as the correct number of neuromods.

To protect yourself from the Typhon, there are a number of weapons including familiar weapons, such as the pistol and shotgun, and more exotic weapons, which are being developed on Talos One. There are a wide range of throwable weapons, as well, including lures to distract enemies and various types of exotic grenade. However, ammunition is in short supply and you must carefully judge whether to use your materials to fabricate more or whether to avoid combat. Luckily there are plenty of options if you prefer the stealthy approach with alternate routes to avoid enemies, stealth skills to make Morgan harder to spot and the station's own auto defence turrets which can be set up to fight for you.

Prey has its own, very distinctive graphical style. Talos One is a mix of polished wood and brass, glass and industrial metal work with a design style which reminds you of a 1960s take on art deco. Its very reminiscent of Rapture from the Bioshock games with the labs sections looking similar to the older labs in Portal 2. Fans of the Dishonored games will also find the character design familiar and with good reason; Arkane are the studio behind both games. The result is a game which, although light and airy, feels brooding and menacing which, along with an expertly crafted soundtrack ramps up the tension without falling for (too many) cheap tricks such as jump-scares.

Prey is an excellent example of a game where the story, game play, graphical style and sound all work together to form a compelling and atmospheric game. It's easy to compare it with other classic games such as Bioshock, Fallout, Portal and System Shock and yet, although it shares aspects with all of those titles, it has its own unique style and feel which means it could well become a classic in its own right.

Nick Bown is Screenjabber's Technical Director and occasionally finds the time to write as part of the Games team. Hailing from a time when computer games came on tape and consoles had wood effect cases, Nick has been gaming for a while and regularly enjoys PC and console titles. As a hardware nerd, he can often be found tinkering with the innards of gaming rigs and servers or explaining the difference between L2 cache and system RAM to those keen to take their gaming hardware to the next level!

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