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Prey review: Sci-fi thriller starts slowly but ends strong

Players in Prey fight monsters who roam a

Players in Prey fight monsters who roam a space station, tearing the inhabitants to pieces. Photo Credit: Bethesda

PLOT Who is Morgan Yu, and how can he/she stop killer aliens?

RATED M for Mature

DETAILS PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC; $59.99

BOTTOM LINE Slow start, bang-up finish.

Prey begins slowly as scientist Morgan Yu awakens in an upper-class apartment. There’s an inexplicable unease that something is not right. Turns out the feeling isn’t misplaced. After a trippy introduction, Prey thrusts you headfirst into its world, where merciless monsters called Typhon roam the research-focused Talos-1 space station, tearing the inhabitants to pieces. Suddenly you find yourself in the position of having to beat these enemies.

The game is concerned with who Morgan Yu is, and it lets you choose nearly every facet of the character, including gender, skills and even morality. The best parts of Prey stem from how Yu interacts with other people.

Despite how interesting the setup and enemies are, the early hours of gameplay are sluggish. Morgan is not a superpowered human (yet) but a scientist that these bullet-sponge monsters can kill in a few hits. Your best bet is to stick to the shadows, collecting supplies and audio recorders, lest you want to get torn to shreds. This early combat can be dull, and the upgrades, which bestow typical strength and health buffs, are bland.

However, about a third of the way through Prey, you unlock the ability to spend your neuromods to acquire Typhon powers. The abilities run the gamut from telekinesis blasts that will fling enemies across the room to the power to turn yourself into a mundane object in the environment, such as a coffee mug, to hide from enemies or access hard-to-reach places. From these abilities emerge Prey’s interesting take on the Play Your Way formula. Not only are the powers fun to experiment with in and out of combat, but there are also interesting narrative consequences to using them.

Ultimately, the fusion of player-driven storytelling and flexible gameplay is strong, and makes Prey a stellar horror adventure despite a handful of flaws.

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