It’s been awhile since major game releases put out demos before they launched. The last few weeks, however, have been sort of a renaissance for this practice. Dragon Quest Heroes II, Snipperclips, Puyo Puyo Tetris, and now Prey have all released demos on the PS4, XBox One, and Switch. Granted some of those games had bigger budgets than the others but Bethesda took a leap of faith and made the demo available for the PS4 and XBox One. I’m glad they did, but the developers may not be. These are our Prey demo impressions.
There will be some spoilers in this preview. If you want to jump into Prey fresh skip down to the last paragraph. If you don’t mind having a few inklings of what is going on in the story feel free to read on through. That said everything you read here you’ll be able to see or figure out on your own in the first hour of Prey. You wake up in the bed in the corner of your studio apartment as Morgan Yu in the near future. You have recently accepted an invitation to join your brother in a research program. The two of you apparently are all-star scientists, at least in your own mind, and Alex is looking forward to getting the band getting back together.
The environments have a number of items to interact with and you can learn about the world the game inhabits. One of the key items to interact with is the computer. It’s here that you can read e-mails and interact with different programs later in the game. One item that really disappointed me is the mirror in Morgan’s bathroom. You didn’t have a reflection. Is Morgan some type of Vampire? You can also flush the toilet but it doesn’t make a sound. I guess in the next 20 years as well as colonizing outer space we learn to make a silent commode.
The game looks okay but in a post Horizon: Zero Dawn world it doesn’t look great. Whether it was done ironically or not I can’t tell but at one point Morgan is in a helicopter and the computer tells you to look out and enjoy the view of the bay. The computer is clearly impressed by what you can see. I was not. I have a feeling Morgan thought it was ho-hum too.
One of the highlights of the demo was I immediately recognized actor Benedict Wong as the voice of Alex Yu. I typically enjoy Mr. Wong’s roles so it was nice to see him pop up in the game when I didn’t expect it. He didn’t have enough lines yet to really get a gauge for how he does in the role but for the most part, he seemed rather sincere as Morgan’s older brother looking forward to a reunion.
After a short control tutorial nicely worked into a personality test the games offer a glimpse at the first twist. A scientist is attacked by a mimic and you are sedated and wake back up in bed as if nothing happened the following morning. This time as you look around your apartment you’ll notice your computer has a number of emails alerting you to get out you are in danger.
Mimics make for an interestingly creepy monster. They can hide in plain sight disguised as almost anything to include ordinary cardboard boxes. People that are prone to jump scares may want to give this game a wide berth. Mimics can jump out from just about anywhere.
As you make your way out of your apartment you discover that your apartment is nothing more than an observation laboratory. You’ve taken the “test” that you just recovered from many times in the past month and have apparently gone from passing it routinely to failing it every section.
While at first, it seems your brother may have lured you into some sort of trap the more you stop and read emails on computer terminals the more it becomes apparent that you may behind this yourself. The mystery only deepens with the assistance of the unknown voice, January, helping you escape the lab.
At certain points, the game pauses to point out some of it’s more interesting features. While Prey may be billed as an FPS it also has a lot of RPG elements to it. One door early on is locked and you can either find a keycard to unlock it or you can locate a maintenance tunnel that will let you bypass the door. I found this laughable that the game kind of patted its own back on a “play your way philosophy” at this moment. This isn’t anything revolutionary. Why did you feel the need to point it out? This should be table stakes. Not cause for celebration.
Even with the mysterious plot and the intriguing enemies, Prey had a hard time hooking me. I’m glad I played the demo because after the media I read and podcasts I listened to I was excited to play this game. The feeling quickly subsided once I jumped into the demo. Of the four demos I did play in the past two months I ended up purchasing two of them. Prey won’t be the third.