I’ll take “not the original game title” for $100, Alex.
Prey is the spiritual successor to a 2006 title that also simply goes by the name “Prey.” Originally, the old title was supposed to get a direct sequel that involves being a space bounty hunter and chasing after criminals, yet sometime in 2014, the game was unceremoniously axed. Fast forward to 2016 and this new game that shares the same title pops up, and is the center of many debates on whether it constitutes a sequel. Also, can developers just give a new game the same title because it’s been long enough since the last one? Developed by Arkane Studios, makers of the Dishonored franchise, and published by Bethesda, this game raised the bar on the “play it your way” style of games. In this one, you find yourself on a space station infested with aliens that can turn into any object they want as well as aliens who just walk around killing people. Fun times, eh?
This game does visuals in a stunning and very clever way. When facing enemies like “Mimics” or “Phantoms” the game’s lighting goes a bit haywire and in very high contrast, because you suffer from “fear” when you encounter them. Each weapon in the game is uniquely balanced to fit into the world and designed accordingly. Also, being on a space station, you would be rotating constantly. So the developers took special care to make sure that aspect not only looked good but dynamically affected the rest of the locations. Since the station is revolving in real time, certain locations with windows will slowly change lighting and shadows based on what’s outside your window. It’s very clever and well implemented throughout all of the game’s locations. There’s also the “looking glass” technology that feels like a bit of a technical marvel, serving as a sort of video that can display 3D renderings that look more like they are a window into a new room rather than a simple video.
While the story is good and intriguing, it’s hard to find yourself really engaged in the overall narrative. For all its creative bends and curves, the game does boil down to your average “alien invasion” story. A lot of the drama that unfolded before the alien attack takes place in this sort of game’s favorite exposition dumps, audio logs and emails! It does a good job to express all of the goings-on that happened while you were unavailable, but none of the characters are all that compelling enough to have you really investigate. Plus, once you do finally encounter other living survivors on the station, they seem rather stiff and one-note. The game is constantly finding excuses to make you take the long route to what should be an easy destination because dangling that carrot works for some. It did grow tiresome after awhile. It was also made worse by the midpoint of the game in which you’ve accumulated so many side quests, you might get anxiety in trying to figure out where to go next, or where you even should go to at all.
The sound in this just plain “works” for the most part. Most of the conventional weaponry sound as they should, and you also get some individual weapons with unique sounds. The soundtrack is average at best, with a lot of synths roaring over your every encounter with the alien Typhons. It sometimes gets annoying, because you can get to a point where encountering a certain type of enemy is no longer as threatening as it was earlier in the game, but you still get that jarring chord that’s supposed to scare you more than the enemy itself and it comes off as obnoxious. As for voice acting, it’s all just alright. Your character doesn’t talk very much even though you see yourself talking in recordings, which makes your silence more suspicious than characteristic. There’s stuff to be enjoyed here, but it’s brought down by a frequently used battle song you’ll hear when you encounter enemies, and you will get sick of it.
As said earlier, this game really does feature as one very well-implemented “play your way” approach to the game. You can sneak, go on the attack, science your way through, or turn yourself into the monsters you’re fighting once you gain the ability to learn new abilities. Just when the upgrade tree seems too oppressive, some more abilities pop up as the first quarter of the game comes to a close. The idea of using the psychoscope, a scanner designed to analyze living Typhon, is a neat one for helping you learn about the strengths and weaknesses of enemies as well as the new abilities based on what they can do. At the time of writing this, I tried to pursue the path of not using any alien mods, as they can affect your treatment on the station. It’s quite a difficult path, but not necessarily due to a lack of capabilities. The difficulty comes in the fact that every enemy encounter is more than just a quick fight. It’s stressful and feels like a big ordeal.
And that’s just one of my gripes about the game. Even on Normal mode, every enemy encounter you have will usually result in your death because they are a lot stronger than you and have a ton of attacks and abilities that make them a real force to be reckoned with. This is okay at first because it makes you really consider how you are going to approach enemy encounters. But as the game rolls on, your ability to dispatch enemies, despite having more abilities later on, starts to feel like a chore. Even on the lowest difficulty setting, the combat does turn a bit wonky, especially if you end up in open conflict with too many enemies. Another problem is the loading times. They are extremely…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..long. When you transition from one map to the next, you get a loading screen, which slowly jogs along from the left to right. But then after that loading screen, you don’t get to play because ANOTHER loading screen pops up, this time with dots and no progress bar. Eventually, the game concedes and lets you play. But it’s a real hassle because paired with the difficulty of the enemies and the loading times, dying over and over again may wear your patience thin.
Prey delivered on what it was supposed to be: a new game that challenges the boundaries of gaming by having some interesting design choices on how you go about getting around the ship and the many ways you can handle a problem. It’s too bad the game has so many buzzkills in the form of enemy aliens absolutely wrecking you and the snore-inducing loading. It’s a game to pick up if you enjoyed its cousins like Bioshock, Dishonored, and Deus Ex, but be prepared for some truly frustrating elements in a game that is extremely well-designed.
Wayne and Kurt at Hard Mode Gamers discuss many many many many titles of 2017 and with July being a slow month for games, take to discussing the year. What is the best game of 2017?
Also that chair was made for kids okay?
ALSO: Kurt rambles on for like 2 minutes on how annoying it is that every game coming out is doing the open-world thing and is waiting for the day that Call of Duty decides to do so.
Get Even is a unique action adventure game developed by The Farm 51 and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It is available now on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. In the game you play a mercenary named Cole Black who appears to have some sort of involvement with a kidnapping and a bomb. Throughout it, you explore different memories to eventually figure out how everything transpired. However, as you go through the game, you will notice that there are several moments where something seems off about this method. The game combines many different types of gameplay elements and tries to manage them all. Does it succeed?
Way back in the old times (2014), the game was shown off with a very vague tech demo at E3 highlighting the detailed graphics of the game. Though it may not have held up to the original trailer (which seems to be the case with every E3 trailer), it got the job done with a gold star. This is both from a technical standpoint and an artistic standpoint. Environments, both indoor and outdoor are relatively small but they all flourish with minimal repetition. If anything, it could have used some more variety as you go through trash heap after trash heap, but at least said trash heaps are all well crafted. The concrete locations are littered with various tags and street art in every room. That, and the dissolving particle effect you get from unlocking memories, creating objects, and killing NPCs is stunning every time you do it.
I don’t want to talk about it too much here, because this is the sort of game that is better if you know as little as possible before jumping in. The game revolves around exploring memories while finding clues with your phone. You are doing this to piece together all the parts of a vast series of events that led up to the aforementioned bomb and kidnapping. But any game that revolves around memory and the human psyche are bound to be riddled with plot twists. These plot twists really do deliver themselves routinely throughout the experience and add up to a rather surprising turn of events later on. But that’s all I really want to expound on right now.
Now, the original soundtrack to this game isn’t the most astonishing in terms of just music. But what it does with the way the music and sound implementation is ingenious. Tracks play with odd time signatures that sometimes fall out of sync with themselves. Sometimes you hear people humming a song you heard in the soundtrack earlier on. There are other times where the soundtrack is played back at different speeds. Several characters have their own leitmotifs. At one point, two songs were playing at the same time and it was definitely intentional. One of the levels has a song wherein if you enter open combat, a loud bubblegum pop song plays instead of a serious orchestral piece. Additionally, there are moments where your breathing becomes louder than everything else. You also hear echos of non-natural sounds in the distance. Stealth sections have some really heavy distortion synth pad chords that get louder and louder the closer you get to an enemy NPC. What I’m saying is the audio design on this game is a perfect fit for the content within. Clever uses of diegetic & non-diegetic sounds are abound.
This is where the game gets a bit dodgy. Get Even has decided that the only way to be unlike any other game is to simultaneously consist of many different games all in one package. For better and worse, the game tries to do the following: first person shooter action, tactical stealth, horror with defense, and adventure. Yes, all of that. Whenever you’re in a section with many enemy NPCs, you can choose to shoot your way through it or sneak around. However, there are sections where open conflict seems mandatory, especially towards the very end. The game does a good job of letting you know that you are being actively judged for how you handle every situation too. When you’re not around NPCs, you spend some time exploring an asylum trying to find photographs for plot reasons, and this is where both the horror and puzzle elements prevail. Sometimes the asylum is quiet and peaceful while other times it’s like a haunted old mansion. What’s worse is the game is not afraid to implement overused horror tropes. Then there are bits where you have to solve actual puzzles in order to proceed and they aren’t very difficult, but they exist throughout the entire journey. The game is truly trying to be a jack of all trades and is definitely a master at none.
Your mileage may vary greatly on how much you can tolerate the genre shifting. My experience on the whole package is positive. However, there are a handful of sections that can be frustrating, and this again depends on what part you are at. I remember a particular section where stealth was too hard and I ended up either shooting everyone up or sprinted away hoping the NPCs would not give chase. There was another section of the game where after rounding a corner and going outside of the asylum, the game dramatically switches to full on supernatural horror for no particular reason. At the same time, the tactical stealth was very engaging and the implementation of an actual corner gun really sets this title apart from the pack. All in all, the game was vexing enough that I feel at least one additional playthru (in which I murder everyone) will be warranted.
Get Even promised to be a unique game and it delivered. It is quite a psychological experience that you won’t soon forget after the credits roll. The only thing that really keeps the game hampered down is the inconsistency, which can greatly affect your enjoyment of the title. Overall, despite not being one of our top rated games this year, it is still a contender for GOTY 2017.
P.S. There’s a lot of involvement from inclusion of an in-universe VR headset and I personally think this kind of game would be great to have a VR version.