It feels like it has been ages since a game was available as a demo. Lately it has been a sea of pre-orders and paid early previews. Aside from Steam’s policy of refunds if the game was only played for short time, to get into a game you just had to shell out. There was a nice smattering of episodic games that softened the blow a bit, but it just wasn’t the same.
The Prey demo sauntered in like a good friend that you hadn’t seen in years, covered in an aura of nostalgic demo glory. It promised a wonderful introduction into a game dripping with content that you just couldn’t pull yourself away from after you got your hands in it.
The first hour of Prey, while gorgeous, was empty for me. The corridors felt too familiar. The setting felt too familiar. The story twist that was being setup was telegraphed hard enough that I figured it out from first few scenes. The combat almost had me intrigued, but still came up short.
The helicopter ride with the credits was quite beautiful. But after watching it, I was a little sad that it was just a pretty loadscreen meant to make the game seem grander than it was. There is a comfort dealing with the familiar, but I was not drawn into the atmosphere or engulfed in the gameplay.
Initial impressions brought to light that the Prey creators were fans of many previous games. They seemed to borrow so hard from other titles, that it sucked me out of the atmosphere and made me think about the other titles. No game is wholly original, but there needs to be something that is more interesting than slapping a pile of copies together.
Even the music left me wanting. At first it made me want it to be better and then it made me want it to stop. It was jarring and irritating, an amateurish attempt at amplifying a jump scare that wasn’t good enough. I was relieved by the silences not because I wasn’t being pursued by monsters anymore, but because my ears were able to rest.
Prey just made me want to play Dead Space, BioShock and Dishonored instead. So I will.