Prey takes a very ambitious approach to game play. There are always multiple paths towards achieving your goals and this goes beyond the standard stealth vs. guns blazing options. You can stack objects to get anywhere within the sizable, open environments. At times, this feels like cheating but there are sections that require it. Also, as an appeal to psychopaths, you can also kill any NPC you meet. I’m not sure if it’s possible to kill your way into an unwinnable state but I wasn’t about to waste my time trying. The problem with all this freedom is that half the time I really didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. There are tons of special abilities you can unlock but they aren’t really required to do anything so I was never compelled to try any of them out.
The story is just as open as and free flowing as the environments. I found myself inundated with reams of boring backstory and world-building via various NPC e-mails and books. This has become a common story-telling trope that I am seriously sick of. This ain’t Zork and I want to live in this world and not read about it while monsters are cloaked and hidden everywhere. Despite all these attempts at fleshing out the universe, the story feels half-done and never really grabbed me.
Throughout the first half of the game I found myself getting beaten down constantly. Your character is so weak compared to the enemies and there is no proper tutorial explaining how you can use stealth and the objects lying around to your advantage. Maybe I just suck at this game, but I was constantly on the verge of rage quitting every ten minutes or so. I can’t say I completely hated the experience. When I did manage to defeat a particularly tough enemy in an unusual way it was quite satisfying but that wasn’t enough for me to recommend this game.