I played the demo of this game way back in August of last year. Last weekend I saw the extra-special collector’s edition with various knicknacks of dubious value and an art book, all packaged in a felt-lined tin for $20. Oh yeah, there was a game in there too. Really I was just happy to find the game for cheap, so the collection of collector’s collectables hold about the same value to me as a stick of baseball card gum or a Bazooka Joe comic. Eh. That’s nice. Whatever.
I stand by most of my initial comments on the game: The Native American spirit warrior is as good an excuse as any to give the player super powers, and it works well here because those powers translate so well into compelling gameplay.
|You can run around on the glowing paths. This might feel a little strange.|
The game has catwalks which go up walls, across ceilings, sideways, and back down to “right side up” again. The game never explains how they work. You just stick to them. Gravity retains the familiar orientation, but some alien technology prevents you from falling. (Unless you jump) This can be strange as you fight enemies who are on different catwalks with different orientations, and neither one of you is right-side up. Sometimes when objects fall or get knocked around you get a sense of which way gravity is “really” going, and the effect is dizzying.
Speaking of gravity… if the catwalks aren’t enough to baffle you, the game has shifting gravity. The whole thing takes place on a gigantic sphere-shaped spaceship, and within the ship there are areas with gravity pointing in all sorts of different directions. There are even areas where you can control gravity yourself, which you must do to navigate around various obstacles. It starts out letting you “flip” a room to get over a high wall, but eventually you’ll be able to aim gravity in all six directions in order to tumble through a three-dimensional maze, with the added complexity that you need to keep from going splat by falling too far.
And finally there are portals. These two-dimensional doors into other areas add another layer of insanity to the game. Keeping in mind that portals connect two different locations, but they are usually not at the same orientation. So, if you step through one door-like portal, you may find yourself falling out of the ceiling in another room. Some portals simply take you to a different side of the same room, which might not be apparent at first and results in a forehead-slapping “duh” when you realize the confusing maze you’ve been running is just one room from many different angles. You know, not that this happened to me or anything. I’m just saying it could happen.
Things get really interesting when Prey starts to blend these concepts together, and you are navigating a catwalk in a room with shifting gravity in an attempt to reach a portal in the “ceiling”. It really is brain tickling. I like the puzzles a lot more than the combat, but so far this is turning out to be a really amusing title.
UPDATE: My bad. The game does indeed use the Doom 3 engine (modified) which explains why the lighting looks so similar. I remember hearing about the “Prey Engine” years ago while the game was in development, and I just assumed they were still using it. The Prey entry at Wikipedia explains that they jumped engines a couple of times.
Raytracing is coming. Slowly. Eventually. What is it and what will it mean for game development?
The Game That Ruined Me
Be careful what you learn with your muscle-memory, because it will be very hard to un-learn it.
Who Broke the In-Game Economy?
Why are RPG economies so bad? Why are shopkeepers so mercenary, why are the prices so crazy, and why do you always end up a gazillionaire by the end of the game? Can't we just have a sensible balanced economy?
Trusting the System
How do you know the rules of the game are what the game claims? More importantly, how do the DEVELOPERS know?
The Gameplay is the Story
Some advice to game developers on how to stop ruining good stories with bad cutscenes.