I love horror, as a rule. I’m a horror film aficionado, and generally not much phases me – the odd jump scare may get the better of my nerves but I can sit through most ‘scary’ films without having to turn on the light.
Video games, on the other hand, are a different story. I can’t play them. I won’t play them. My palms get sweaty, my heart races, and I daren’t move around corners just in case something’s waiting for me. I’ll happily watch someone else play a horror game but I’m not taking that controller myself, not a chance.
I figured Prey wouldn’t be that bad. I’ll give it a go, I thought. I didn’t really even consider that it would be scary. It’s a first person shooter. I’ll be fine.
And I was fine. For the whole of about ten minutes until shit got real.
The atmosphere that Prey creates is intense. The music – god, the music. It’s absolutely fantastic, but it’s working against you every step of the way, encouraging your heart to beat out of your chest, repeatedly peaking at a booming crescendo even if there’s nothing happening on screen just to make you think something’s going to jump out at you. And when the music isn’t causing you to panic, the eerie silence of Talos I is deafening; every tiny noise down a corridor is startling as you wonder what could be waiting for you.
Abandoned space stations are creepy anyway – abandoned anythings are. But add in a load of dead bodies strewn about, blood stains and an overbearing sense of not knowing what’s going on, you know you’re in for a rough ride. Prey’s setting is fantastic; it’s the perfect amount of creepiness – but it’s just too much for me.
Of course, this is all compounded by the Mimics, the black shadow-like creatures that move with the creepiness of a horde of spiders, appearing out of nowhere whenever you least expect it. My need to investigate every object I passed soon dissipated when I realised that a Mimic could be hiding as anything. The noise they make when they appear – you can be anywhere, minding your own business, and hear that; you’ll look up to see one scuttling around in the distance, changing into another object. You know it’s waiting for you. You know you’re going to have to walk past it.
I managed about an hour of Prey before I had to give up – for now at least. Talos I is one brilliantly scary place with a perfectly curated tense atmosphere. I want to see what else it has in store for me, but I’m not sure I can handle the fright every time a Mimic – or worse, it’s only going to get worse, right? – materialises in front of me.
Our full review of Prey will be coming later this week, from someone who isn’t a much of as wuss as I am.