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Prey (2017)

I am usually inclined to be nice to small indie games I get for free, but…this game has a £9.99 price tag…so they deserve everything they’re gonna get.

Objection!

At first this game has a nice premise to it: you’re on trial for murder in 1894 France and it’s entirely up to you how you exonerate yourself… You can lie, frame others, confess or even plead insanity. The possibilities are endless! Except they’re really not. In a loading screen (of which there are a frankly criminal quantity) it claims that there are hundreds of combinations you can try to get out of a guilty verdict, but it’s absolute rubbish.

There are about ten different pieces of evidence you can find to defend yourself and a total of eight endings (and one extra that doesn’t count). Given how a lot of the endings are very similar, you’re gonna be using the same bits of evidence multiple times, replaying the exact same scenarios time and again just to get the very slight tweak to the ending summary. Of my four hours played, an hour and a half was my first ending and the other two and a half hours was just mopping up the others. There was no enjoyment or satisfaction to it as it’s basically a one-note puzzle game with a built-in 100% guide for when you (very quickly) tire of it. And you can’t plead insanity. Seriously. There’s no option for it.

The Prosecutor Speaks

I normally don’t like just rattling off a list of issues a game has, but given how short and insultingly expensive it is (I had an immeasurably better time in four hours of LiEat for a fifth of the base price) I am going to indulge my more bitter urges to rip this game apart.

First of all, the graphics. Even after finding a way to turn off the omnipresent filter that makes the whole game look washed out, the graphics are still low grade. So far, so indie, but where this game stands out is the human models. There aren’t many humans that appear in this game, but those that do vary from waxwork with freakishly-animated eyes to straight up horror movie bad. Sadly for Bohemian Killing, the very worst (by which I mean wet-yourself-terrifying) is the player who is seen in an unskippable cutscene at the start of every single run. I took to holding up a hand to block my view and save myself the nightmares.

The game is also plagued with movement and graphical bugs like bouncing up and down after being hit, black birds that fly through buildings and the floor or randomly explode into a thousand plainly white feathers and clipping through a vent so badly by letting go of the crouch button that I was afraid I’d gotten stuck. Other camera movements are smooth and sudden (in a bad, cheap way) so the whole game feels rushed and made on a tight budget. A fact I’d believe if it wasn’t for this next bit…

Next Witness

“The main character of the game is played and dubbed by a world-class film and voice actor”. That is a line from the Steam store page. In fact there is an entire section of the store page description devoted to praising this voice actor, along with a bit that looks ripped straight from the guy’s CV. What makes it awkward is the voice acting is pretty damn bad. Most line readings are clunky or outright painful and I haven’t heard a French accent for a while, but this one sounds distinctly fake. That statement becomes considerably worse when I found out that he is, in fact, French.

Also, cheap shot, but Bohemian Killing isn’t on the guy’s IMDb page.

Verdict: Guilty

In summary, I have nothing positive to say about this game. The premise could have been interesting and unique, but it’s handled so poorly that this would be a rip-off at £2, let alone £10. The execution is awful, and I’m not talking about yours when you’re inevitably found guilty (obligatory death penalty pun).

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