'Prey' Puts Personal Drama into Classic Sci-Fi Horror
Arkane Studios' recent immersive sim is set in a thrilling, terrifying, corporate dystopia.
Prey was maybe the first "big" game that made me feel uniquely catered to. It's an immersive sim—with plenty of support for different playstyles and interacting systems—set in a high-tech, alt-future space station.
Prey is the story of a terrifying corporate dystopia gone wrong, from the point of view of those who had the misfortune to work in the wrong place at the wrong time. You are Morgan Yu, a brilliant scientist who was researching neuromods, advanced tech that lets you learn incredible skills instantaneously.
But, of course, there are complications. And creepy aliens.
You can use those neuromods to gain access to incredible powers, some human, some decidedly not. In my first playthrough, I stayed human, but that didn't keep me from hacking advanced machines, utilizing super strength, and powering my way through increasingly freaky alien encounters.
Plotting through the station—picking up on what happened to the people who lived and worked here—was my favorite part of the experience. The characters came to life in ways that feel unique to the game. There is an adorable lesbian couple, falling in and out of love as the world disintegrates around them. A hilariously animated D&D group. A bunch of bored engineers that make a useless nerf-style gun for fun. More than anything, these people felt real, and I actually acred about them when the game started to give me choices about whether to help survivors.
It's also a beautiful, expertly crafted piece of architecture. There are spaces in this game that I'll never forget: the ruined halls of Crew Quarters, the faux-open space of the arboretum, the nightmarish corridors of Psychotronics.
There's simply no better place to play out my very own power fantasies.