Most of the reviews have flowed in from all over the world for Prey. Many of them have had vastly different experiences. From my perspective, it seems like the longer and slower that a reviewer takes the game, the more positive the experience they end up having.
That’s the same experience that I’m finding on my own playthrough with Prey. Over 20 hours in, I’ve only just now entered Deep Storage for the first time, and I still feel like there’s a lot I’ve missed that I need to go back and do.
How is it people are completing the game quickly? It seems like they must be missing out on one of the absolute best things that the game has to offer–its incredible atmosphere and attention to detail. From the very moment I experienced Talos I for the first time, I have not been able to stop thinking about it. I want (perhaps need) to explore every corner, access every computer, empty out every safe, get through every door, etc.
It’s not because I’m a completionist or a perfectionist, it’s not to get 100% achievements (I don’t care about that), but it’s because I simply want so deeply to know every detail that there is to know about this space station and what happened to the people on it.
For lack of a better term, many games “game” you into playing them with systems. Add more systems into the game world, and people will want to use those systems to feel a sense of progression. Prey does that too, except that isn’t what drives me forward like it is with so many other games. It’s the story and the world building that drives me forward, and it’s the systems that support that and make sure I’m continually able to do so in whatever way I choose.
I’m not getting things just to get them, or moving forward just to move the story forward. I’m getting things with a purpose, and I’m doing what I want when I want (except for the rare cases where something is locked off until later, usually for story reasons), and everything still seems to be unfolding in a completely natural and believable way.
I’ll have more thoughts about Prey once I finally finish the game. But I’m taking my time getting there, and I’m having one of the best PC gaming experiences in a very long time because of it.