385: Prey (2017)

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385: Prey (2017)

Post by JaySevenZero » January 13th, 2019, 12:32 pm

Here's where you can contribute your memories and opinions of Prey (2017) for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

Friendly reminder to all that where feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but self-editing (brevity) is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mainly reading. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

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Re: 385: Prey (2017)

Post by MarkHoog » January 30th, 2019, 4:45 am

Prey was shapeshifting up to be my favourite game of 2017, mostly because of its gorgeous level design. Making my way through Talos-I, exploring every nook and cranny, outsmarting the mimics and cheesing my way to off-grid areas using the GLOO Cannon, I experienced a sense of solitude and freedom rarely felt before in games. The moment I floated outside of the station I felt both calm and alone, and looking back at Talos-I in its entirety filled me with an almost palpable sense of scale. On top of that, I became genuinely interested in the (mostly absent) crew members and enjoyed learning about their lives, hobbies and relationships through emails and audio logs.

However, the game kinda fell apart in its final act. The combat was never my favourite part of Prey, and I had avoided it where I could. Hence, introducing a human adversary late in the game and giving him an army of annoyingly tough combat drones shifted my careful, at times even meditative experience into the realm of chaotic tedium. After so many hours of quiet exploration I suddenly found myself constantly on the run and being shot at – which is also where the long loading screens became a complete buzzkill. It’s okay to wait thirty seconds when you’ve just spent an hour going through crew quarters, but when running from A to B for some fetch quest and having to wait half a minute every twenty seconds, all momentum just flies outta the window into the vastness of space.

I still think Prey is a masterpiece in its level design and alternate history narrative, but that final stretch has made me reluctant to ever revisit the game using a different playstyle. I'd only really consider it if a next gen remaster would provide a seamless experience.

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Re: 385: Prey (2017)

Post by The Baboon Baron » February 15th, 2019, 9:53 am

Take a drink every time someone mentions a game with “shock” in the title… you won’t make it past the 1-hour mark!

Wearing its influences not only on its sleeve, but positively tattooed on its wrist, Prey 2017 was several things all at once. It was: Brilliant, awful, scary, hilarious, original, derivative, predictable and surprising. I haven’t gone through such a spectrum of views on a game since I rage quit, then embraced, Demon’s Souls.

First off, it really is a (insert favorite) shock game. From the System shock-easque setting, to the plasmid style neuromod’s. BUT, the comparison is far deeper, as similar philosophical concepts are at play throughout these games. They also share stellar universe and plot building, multiple play approaches and atmosphere you could cut with a knife. Is that such a bad thing though? If you’re old enough to remember when Half Life was a “doom clone” like I am, you might be more forgiving. I see no fault in a “Bioshock game by the people who made Dishonoured” but perhaps it could have been slightly less obvious.

What is truly remarkable though is the world building. Each member of the space station has a unique life, personality and story line which is not only a joy to explore but directly affects gameplay. For example, the neurotic lab tech puts post-its on everything to ensure they’re not mimic aliens, so when you find one without a post-it, you’ve got an advantage. The ditsy secretary has her password stuck under her desk, the drunk engineer has figured out how to replicate drugs illegally… it all builds subtly to what was once a living and breathing world. It’s a marvel of storytelling, organic and thought provoking, giving echo’s of Gone Home of all things. But this story telling is never in your face if you’d rather run and gun your way through, allowing for a unique experience for each player.

But unfortunately, what is most pertinent to me is that like System shock, you can get Prey wrong. I got Prey wrong for the first 5 hours, I didn’t look for the right items, I didn’t invest my Neuromods correctly, and as a result I got smeared up the window of Talos 1. Make no mistake, this game drops you into its universe and expects you to pick it up quickly, and if you don’t you will suffer. Enemies will re-spawn behind you, wreak your day with near 1 hit kill attacks or homing attacks. Or perhaps what you thought was a bin will in fact rip your face off. It gets very tiring, very quickly. I nearly called it because of this quite cruel, difficulty curve.

But I didn’t. And I ‘m so glad I didn’t. I invested a handful of neuromods and changed to a melee approach. A wise decision, as the ol’ 1-2 of zap ‘em & smash ‘em proved to work a treat. Only then did the game really find its own. Exciting sub plots that weave throughout of each other underpin a subtle moral choice system which leads to what I thought was a clever ending. Graphically its Dishonoured in space, which is fine, though the uncanny valley of facial animations does show up as it so often does. Prey is also a loud game, with jagged blasts of synth and strings to under pin the surprise and violence of the Typhon. That said, it does also have large swathes of silence, which sometimes works and sometimes adds to the dullness of a long backtrack to fulfil a side quest.

I enjoyed my time with Prey, and I would recommend it too, though possibly give a quick guide a glance beforehand. Perhaps there’s something to the simulation hypothesis after all…
3WR- Zap, Bludgeon, Repeat

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Re: 385: Prey (2017)

Post by FemalePheromones » April 26th, 2019, 9:47 am

I first played Prey through the demo that was released either just before release or on release and it really reminded me of classic Half-Life so I quite quickly rented the full game.

Unfortunately after an hour or 2 I was so incredibly bored than I just gave up with it and have no intention on going back to it.

A part of me does hope that when I listen to this issue of the podcast I will hear enough that actually makes me want to jump back into it but we will see.

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Re: 385: Prey (2017)

Post by HMSPolio » May 17th, 2019, 3:52 pm

I think I downloaded and played the demo a couple of times, but, due to the combination of an incredibly tense atmosphere and unwieldy controls, didn't last long.

On a whim I bought the full game, overcame my reservations and really enjoyed my time with it.

Arkane's level and environment design is some of the best in the business. The wealth of play options and tools at your disposal allow scenarios to be tackled in a number of fun ways, and I enjoyed the puzzler aspect of trying to optimally stealth through.

The NPCs and story are engaging enough but I don't think anything touched the sides emotionally.

There are pacing issues, and some of the design decisions are questionable: the irritating sticky bombs in the outdoor sections, the reliance on finicky drone enemies, and the Neuromod inflation for certain skills are all good examples.

Overall though, the combat, weapons, and powers are mostly satisfying, and Talos is a marvel of (digital) engineering.

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