Let’s Talk About Prey

Still not going to make the easy jokes

Since my initial Day 1 impressions with Prey, the game grew on me quite a bit. Despite the intro doing nothing for me, I grew to enjoy exploring Talos I and trying to piece together what was really going on. I feel like there is something genuinely interesting hiding just out of reach, but man, I just cannot get past the combat. To be clear, the combat isn’t heinously bad or anything, it just feels clunky, far too clunky to be fun. For as much as I want to keep pushing to see what is next, the game just isn’t all that fun to actually play.

Full disclosure: I’ve been playing the PlayStation 4 version of the game which may or may not have some lingering input lag issues, according to players. At this point, any future coverage of Prey will likely come if I pick up the game on PC.

After playing for around eight hours and identifying the general combat cycle, I was left quite a bit underwhelmed. My issues early in the game were that enemies were far too fast and didn’t feel fun to fight. After acquiring a few more weapons and becoming more capable with the Gloo Cannon I’ve found that they do not address the issue at hand but rather mask it temporarily. Enemies are still a pain in the ass to track and those little mimic bastards are especially bothersome. Just the way they bounce around and are either just out of range of the wrench or are too close to keep up with, ugh.

Phantoms, the bigger guys, aren’t much better. They take several more hits to kill and, even when stunned with the Gloo Cannon, will fire off attacks that I learned, unfortunately, can hit you through walls and other unbreakable surfaces. They teleport around with no rhyme or reason, sometimes rushing right at you and other times they teleport so far away that the are no longer actively hunting you. Worst of all are the little floaty robot guys who just hover over to you and light you on fire (assholes).

So we have these enemies that aren’t fun to fight, and we also have a bunch of weapons that aren’t satisfying to use. Early weapons like the silenced pistol don’t pack enough punch, and I don’t feel like pumping all my precious resources into ammo for a gun that can’t put out more damage than my wrench. That too is an issue, the wrench always seems to be my strongest weapon, which of course it is because it puts me at the most risk. Because Prey reminds me so much of Bioshock, I thought back to my first few hours of that game, remembering I didn’t have issues with feeling strong. Much of that is because rather than using gimmicky guns that stun people (sorry Gloo Cannon, I still love you), Bioshock empowered you with plasmids and allowed you to go toe to toe with enemies that were, in the context of the game, much stronger than anything in Prey (Big Daddy says hello).

So here is where we stand, we have a game that appears to have a super interesting story, but it is locked away behind uninspired combat. I genuinely want to know what come next, what twists and turns are waiting for me, but when I would rather be playing the new Mass Effect (a game about which I have made my opinions very clear) I know I need to stop. Now, you might play this game and actually enjoy the combat. Congrats, I’m happy for you, but I cannot recommend it, at least on PS4 in case those input lag issues are actually a thing (I have nothing to compare it to at this time). 2017 has been a hell of a year for games, making it hard to spend time on a game that is “okay” when there are so many truly excellent games still waiting to be played. I want to check back in on Prey, but probably later in the year, and definitely on PC.