True Horror Is Running Out Of Bullets

Happy Weekend TAY!

And a Happy Halloween weekend to those who have fright-filled plans. I’m going to spend some time this weekend putting up Halloween decorations and getting the last bits for my son’s costume. He is going as Master Chief and we need to get the kid some winter boots that will also double as acceptable Spartan footwear.

Otherwise, I imagine there will be scary movies on tap for the family and when they’ve all gone to bed, it will be scary video games for me.

Well, Prey in particular, which I guess could be thought of as a horror game...except it doesn’t quite feel like that old familiar haunted house.

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It isn’t particularly gory. The alien enemies just revert to a mass of goo when dispatched; you have to often search hard for a chunk to loot. Even the dead humans aren’t particularly disturbing when you stumble onto them in their final death pose (because they look like they were staged).

Prey isn’t very dark. For a game in space, it is rather well lit and I rarely find myself reaching for my flashlight. Even the exterior spacewalk scenes are easy to navigate using the light from the star the station seems to orbit. Prey uses less of the jump scares and likes to let you see the things that hunt you. The game frequently puts glass between you and the monster before the actual encounter, just so you can get a good look at the thing that is going to kick your ass.

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Prey also isn’t claustrophobic. This is an environment where people were supposed to live and work. Crawlspaces are few and far between and when you do find yourself in one, you generally feel safer than in the rest of the station.

So, what Prey does best as horror is to throw off all the usual trappings of horror games and still manage to make you live in fear.

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Prey is effectively a survival horror game, but I didn’t get this at first. You start the game flush with resources. Resources I squandered. What I didn’t take into account was that the supplies in the different sections of the station are finite, sections I would be returning to several times. Sections that become repopulated with aliens that cost me more in resources to dispatch then the meager loot I pick from their corpses. The whole game seems to be spiraling to the realization that I’m totally screwed...and I love it.

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It is such a great game. It truly deserves the System Shock 2 comparisons.

In particular, the level design is breathtaking. This brilliant design leads to an organic feeling of exploration and discovery that I’m not sure I’ve encountered in other games. I truly seem to be able to play this game the way I want to without feeling that I am making “designed” choices.

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Prey is definitely on track to be one of the best games I’ve ever played. Kudos to Arkane, I now want to go back and play Dishonored again and grab its sequel. I wasn’t that keen on Dishonored when I first played it, but I wonder if I played it wrong.

Other than more Prey and my Halloween-related chores, I’ve got another Kinect unit to test out which just arrived from Amazon. I grabbed it on sale along with a pair of Kinect Type-S adapters for future Kinect needs. I was quite saddened to hear that Microsoft is killing off Kinect. I love it on 360 and I can’t imagine not having one for the Xbox One. Grab ‘em while you can...if you want them.

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So, what are you playing this weekend?