199 words about Prey
A good game about bad games.
Prey is a shapeshifter, a biologically engineered chimera designed to exploit the superficiality of genre convention, lurking in the gray space connecting disparate ideas, cargoholds, mechanical thoughts. We begin our story, as we begin all stories, in medias res, then in medias res again, crashing through a series of nested simulations. And then you are playing a videogame, and it is one you have played before. You emerge on a space station on which something has gone horribly awry. You shoot. You hide. You eat candy bars from the garbage. But the shape of its genre keeps slipping into the shadows, lurching out of reach and behind the locked door of a Metroid game. The chittering unreality of digital space is played for horror: famously, every coffee cup may be an enemy. From beneath this shifting latticework of systems emerges the game's great twist: an unconventional web of RPG stats and upgrades, wrenching a sort of mercenary play-acting out of even the most stolid operator. In the final act, the flesh slips off and reveals the hideous iron skeleton of a rote military shooter, but the plot's relentless layering of simulacra justifies even this. Glass was made to shatter.