Prey Review

I really enjoyed Prey. Not because it’s a challenging game (it’s not), but because it doesn’t look like every other man versus alien first person shooter out there. First of all there’s the game’s story. The storyline is at once innovative, interesting, and creepy, and is ultimately compelling enough to keep you playing just to see how everything turns out. And this is coming from a guy who usually doesn’t care all that much about a game’s storyline. Of course enjoyable gameplay requires more than just a good yarn, and Prey backs its story up with some pretty innovative level design that will sometimes literally have you wondering which way is up. Lastly the game is packed with a lot of little extra touches that help to bring its world to life. The developers actually took the time to put a jukebox packed with real world tracks and playable arcade and casino games into the dive bar that serves as the location for the game’s opening scene. I appreciate seeing things like that in a game and I’m sure that you do as well. Things like these all work together to make your time spent playing Prey pretty enjoyable.

Which way is up?
Prey is the story of a young Cherokee man named Tommy who wants nothing more in life than to get off of the reservation. Unfortunately his girlfriend doesn’t feel the same way and wants to remain on the reservation with her people. This dilemma has turned poor Tommy into one of those brooding antiheroes so loved by comics and video games. However he doesn’t have too much time to feel sorry for himself as he soon learns that there’s a lot of truth to the old adage “be careful what you whish for…” As the jukebox in the reservation’s bar belts out BOC’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, Tommy, his girlfriend, and grandfather are abducted by an alien ship … and then things get really weird…

The alien ship is an interesting mix of high-tech and organic machinery – one door may be made out of sliding metal panels and the next a fleshy orifice – and is home to some sort of human harvesting operation. The aliens also have a mastery of portal and gravity technologies which leads to some very interesting levels. Gravity switches can switch the direction of gravity, making the ceiling the floor and vice-versa. Gravity walkways let you walk up walls and across ceilings, which can lead to situations in which the enemy you just killed appears to fly straight up into the air until you realize that you’re actually on the ceiling. Portals can appear in the air and dispense gun-wielding aliens while other static portals will take you to other rooms, or back to where you just were. The game is pretty linear, so even with all of this teleporting around and walking on walls you’ll never really find yourself lost. Normally games that keep you on a predetermined path suffer for it, but in Prey’s case it’s not detrimental to the game. Everything flows along nicely with the story and there are plenty of interesting things to see along the way.

Prey is more than just another alien hunt as it takes advantage of Tommy’s heritage to add aspects of Native American spiritual beliefs to the game. As Tommy you’ll be able to leave your body and “spirit walk”. This primarily gives you the ability to pass through force fields to turn them off from the other side, but there are other perks as well. When in spirit form you’ll be able to use a special spiritual bow to smite enemies while they won’t be able to hit you back. You also gain the aid of a spirit guide in the form of a ghostly hawk who will provide you with hints of where to go next, locate switches for you, and even harass your enemies so that you can shoot them while they’re distracted. Your ability to assume spirit form also frees you from death, and death in the game means a short detour to the spirit world. The spirit world is basically a shooting gallery in which hitting red ghosts earn you health and shooting blue ones earn you spirit energy. You need to hit as many as possible before time runs out and you’re returned to your corporal form.