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Prey- The Review

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Ever had a dream where things aren’t quite what they seem?

Welcome to Prey…a game that shows how reality may not be as real as you think, and the truth is something far more sinister.

Arkane Studios, who are well known for having brought us Dishonoured, are the minds behind this space nightmare. Prey is a strong RPG, first person action game. While the name is a reboot from the 2006 Xbox 360 title, this release has made something completely different of itself.


Set in a kind of alternate reality where John F. Kennedy was never shot and subsequently fuelled the space race with no expense spared, the Russian-American co-designed space station Talos I was orbiting the moon by the late 60s. Improvements continued to be made to it until it was a multilevel space city capable of supporting a sizeable research and development team, medical staff, engineering, and much more.


Experimenting and researching led to great advancements in technology and the creation of the Neuromod- an optical injection that could create knowledge and memory instantaneously by directly accessing the brain. Want to learn French? Want instant super strength? Now you can have it in seconds. What seemed like a wonderful creation was also a dangerously powerful one. And as with any experimentation there is always a risk involved. The outcome of this risk was catastrophic. Without detailing any spoilers it’s hard to go into too much detail. But what is safe to share is that Talos I is in trouble, having attracted some unwanted company.

The large foyers and hallways are devoid of staff and friendly company. You feel alone but you are far from it. Shape-shifting shadow creatures, called mimics, now lurk in every corner and hide in plain sight ready to strike. Phantoms and Typhons walk the corridors ready to unleash powerful attacks on anyone so unfortunate as to encounter them. And Talos I is feeling the effects. Structurally damaged, many support systems are failing and it’s up to you, Morgan Yu, to set things right and, with the help of January, find out the truth by restoring the memories you have inexplicably lost.


Graphically this game is beautiful…in a creepy, mood lighting, “I don’t really want to look” kind of way. White glossed floors and walls are furnished modernly and minimally. Carved oak offices adorned with statues and every comfort. What once was a clean and pristine space station is now falling apart as lights swing and flicker, sparking and creaking. Shudders always make you feel as though the station might break apart any second under the extreme stress it has gone through. But most of all…that view!!! Talk about nailing a space scene! The moon is huge and bright through the floor to ceiling windows. Debris litters the scene and you can feel the expanse around you broaden.


All of this delicious visual is enveloped in a brooding and ominous soundtrack. It makes you pause. It makes you second guess yourself as you take a first cautious step into the next room. It gets your heart racing as you find yourself outnumbered by unearthly creatures. And most of all, it makes you wonder just what happened for something so great to go so wrong- the chase for knowledge having caught up with us.

I’ll be upfront and say it…I really like this game. I love the premise. The story is slow to start but quite compelling. It speaks consistently of the unknown and the search for truth. You are always pushed forward with a soft but steady force, lured into areas you know are traps, and forced to confront beings far more powerful than yourself armed with nothing but the most basic of weapons. Still, this does not deter you from the game. It’s not unnecessarily difficult and there is always a great likelihood that you can and will survive the onslaught ahead of you.


Resources such as medipacks are able to be found and/or manufactured but are not overly abundant so as to encourage you to use them sparingly. Food and drink are also sources of health, alcohol can be used as an aid to fear but comes with the expected pitfall of slowed reflexes and altered vision. Your suit will require repair kits of its own and your weapons ammo. Turrets are available to be your hard hitting sidekicks but their lives are only so long against a more powerful enemy, so must be used wisely. Prey gives you everything you need, but not everything you want, and asks you to make the most of it.

Choices of weapon increase as you progress through the game, are upgradeable and, in some instances, able to be remanufactured or repaired. As you begin your trepidatious journey you will be equipped with only a wrench- a simple weapon but its uses are not to be underestimated!


Soon after you will collect your Gloo Cannon, a handy gun which shoots a cold foam substance that freeze your enemies momentarily and allows you to deal some hard hitting damage before they can strike back. The Gloo Cannon is also useful in area navigation as the foam can make quite a handy bridge, seal a leak or even put out a fire. Pistols and shotguns are also able to be found and make a nice addition to your inventory when those larger enemies arrive.

Resources are readily available….possibly THE most readily available item on board the space station. By collecting rubbish such as crumpled paper, old cigars, bottles and frayed wire, you can recycle them and create raw and even exotic materials. These materials go on to be the building blocks for fabrication of weapons, ammunition, jetpacks, medipacks and just about anything else you might need- although you’ll need to obtain blueprints for some of the more useful items.


And speaking of jetpacks...hold your breath though because it get better... Oh, that glorious jetpack! Allowing me to take one step further in my discovery and float through space, surveying the exterior of Talos I, seeing the full effect of the damage done, and turning full face to the moon, to Earth, for an unobstructed view of what is both my home...and my prison.



Once you reach about 2 hours into the game you’ll find a terminal that provides you with data and a map of the station. A whole new world emerges here as you start to get a clearer picture of how everything fits together and just how much more content is coming your way. Among these are the rescue missions- finding each of the missing Talos I personnel as you navigate your way through halls, tunnels, air ducting, around enemies and past radiation sites.

What you will also be made aware of in your menu is the Neuromod allocation and suit chipsets, both of which are your way of levelling up and upskilling. Neuromods in particular are a necessary item- allowing you to work your way through the 3 skill trees of Engineering, Science and Security you will be able to select which abilities are of prime importance to you. This seems like the normal process and is a little slow, but what I found really fascinating about it was just how much it played on your own individual experience of the game.


Some skills allow for more health, or stamina, while others progress your levels of strength for lifting items, allow you to be the ultimate hacker, or make you a handy repairer which allows you to fix just about anything mechanical or electrical. It’s easy to see that health is important- the more you have available the better your survivability. Stamina is useful in attack and evasion- pretty clear cut right? But strength can aide you in accessing areas obstructed by crates, use of environment for large enemy takedowns, and more; and repair can mean the difference between a powerful army of turrets on your side, reduction of exposure to radiation and access to a helpful escape route or an absolutely stealthy, time consuming navigation of an enemy filled room wielding only your spanner because it’s all that works. Using this clever system of upgrades, Prey really does make the gamer’s experience unique and it’s completely up to you, the player, on how you choose to play the game.


This choice of completion also extends to area navigation. At times it will seem like there is only one way to go forward- through a door you do not have the access card for. So you need to find it right? Well, yes and no. If you can manage to find it then you’re sweet, but if that proves too elusive you can always look around for a vent to crawl through in order to circumnavigate the locked door. Prey leaves this choice to you. Your game, your way. And this feeling of control is great, as in so many instances you have no control at all.


So that’s the ins and outs of the game. Prey is well thought out and is, in my opinion, a great experience to have had. It is a game I will return to. Because while it may seem slow at first, it’s the challenges that the game puts forward in a psychological way which I love most. And all of that wrapped up in a beautiful visual landscape and ominous soundtrack has won me over. I want to play and dread it at the same time because it’s just that good at making me want to explore every inch of this world in which I no longer seem to belong.

-Rem






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2017

AGExpress

Arkane Studios

mimic

morgan yu

Neuromod

pc

phantom

Prey

ps4

space

Talos I

xbox one

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