Some early demo players have called Prey the true sequel BioShock never got. David Houghton at GamesRadar claims that “the time for revisiting BioShock – or at least its ideals – has come, it turns out, nine years later. And it has come via a game called Prey... what happens when the soul of Dishonored possesses the body of BioShock.” I passionately disagree. Some elements of the game might be inspired by BioShock, for example the game mechanic that the player must stick a needle in their eye to gain powers. Just as the EVE Hypo in the wrist, there is a cost to your seemingly supernatural powers. And the game definitely looks a lot like System Shock, which was the frontier of space horror. But Prey does not contain the core that made BioShock the great game that it is.
What made BioShock great, for me, was the setting and the ending. To me, there is nothing more wonderful than a world full of normal everyday objects splashed with an implication of horror. The bodies of all those Splicers? I mean, how fucked up a situation does a corpse have to go through to get strung up like that? The very fact the the evidence left behind in Rapture forces me to use my imagination to figure out what happened is exactly what I play BioShock for. I love being able to replay that game and find ever more details that speak to the increasingly deprived things the citizens did. There are no alien creatures to blame here, Rapture was all humans being humans. It's the kind of extreme we all know we're capable of, which makes it all the more terrifying.
Prey? It blames aliens. How much easier it is to say that the aliens did it, than to say it was our own twisted minds that came up with this horrific world? So no, Prey is in no way a sequel to BioShock. If you think BioShock is all about shooting down Splicers and setting Big Daddies on fire, then yes. You'd be entirely right. But if that was all BioShock was about, it wouldn't be the classic game it is today. In fact, BioShock is often one of the games we point to when need to evidence that video games are art. A run of the mill FPS would not be our first thought for such a category.
I'm not saying that Prey will be a bad game just because it doesn't uphold the core of what a sequel to BioShock should have. Gosh no. Prey is going to have the mechanics of Dishonored set in space and I can't wait. Especially if it lets me shoot things and not feel bad about it! The aliens aren't people suffering under their own mistakes of vanity and ideals. That makes murder entirely okay, right? What I can't abide is calling Prey any type of sequel to BioShock. The new game is inspired by the classic, yes, but it does not contain the core of manmade horror that BioShock embodies.