Prey Review

Prey Xbox One Review

What if I told you that you could become a genius within 5 days? You’d probably think I’m merely speculating, but in the year 2032, aboard the Talos I space-station, the concept is child’s-play thanks to the innovation of the Neuromod. Only question now is… “What’s the catch?”

It has been a long wait for many fans of the original Prey to finally see it’s revival. Even though this time it’s a complete rewrite, after the announcement trailer was shown at E3 2016, many people, including myself, were approving of this new idea and were looking forward to finding out more about what Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks had planned for the IP. The launch trailer showed the protagonist in a disturbing timeloop, which gradually gets more and more creepy. The game was then released, world-wide, on the 5th of May 2017 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. A demo was released a week before the game’s launch, which roughly covers the first hour of gameplay. The graphics were improved upon for game launch, so it’s clear that development for this game has been taken very seriously.

Fill In The Blanks

Morgan in space!

I’m sure there are people wondering, even if you are receptive to this new Prey, what caused the reboot. Following the announcement of Prey 2, there were a lot of problems that the project was facing, such as the need to transfer IP rights to Bethesda Softworks (under ZeniMax Studios) sometime by 2011. Rumours then started doing it’s rounds around 2013 that Arkane Studios were now developing Prey 2, rebooting development and scrapping Human Head Studios‘ work on Prey 2, targeting for a release in 2016. After another year of rumours, Bethesda finally announced that Prey 2 has been canceled, but that Arkane had started work on the reboot of the game, completely doing away with the previous game’s concepts. Arkane previously had inspiration for a game with a huge inter-connected dungeon that the player could roam and unlock different sections as they complete objectives, and be able to backtrack for any given reason. They then took this concept and set it as a space-station filled with hostile aliens that escaped from containment, and are hunting down the humans who have been studying them. While development for the game progressed, the team noticed the similarities to the original Prey, and then instead decided against renaming the property, they stuck to calling the game Prey, which still works in this context, because of how the aliens are literally hunting you down as you go. I find it interesting though how even though they are hunting you, in a way, you are hunting them down too whenever you encounter them, thanks to the mechanics of the game, but now I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Story

You play as Morgan Yu, who has been recruited by his/her brother to assist on research being done on the Talos I. When you start the game, you get to choose the gender of your protagonist, but that’s as far as character appearance choice goes. The name was chosen as a gender-neutral name to allow for the choice between male and female. You wake up in March 2032 in your apartment ready to go to work, but this is when things go wrong. During the process of taking a series of tests before leaving to go to the station, the doctors get attacked by the Typhon aliens, and you fall unconscious. You wake up once again in your apartment, having forgotten the events of the previous day, but as you leave your apartment to go to your tests, you notice the apartment building isn’t the same as before, and the electronics are malfunctioning. You discover that you’ve in fact been on the space-station this entire time after escaping your apartment room. In the process of escaping your apartment, you get contacted by January, an Operator artificial intelligence who claims to have been built by Morgan, and tells you that the Typhon have escaped containment and you need to make your way back to your office.

Scanning Enemies.

It reveals to Morgan that you have been studying and developing Neuromods, a tool that changes the structure of the patient’s brain, granting effects such as heightened logical reasoning, learning a new foreign language instantly, etc. The reason that Morgan could not remember past events is because the neuromods that were installed to his brain were removed, and all memories from the moment of installation get removed as well. You are then tasked to destroy the Talos I research station, which will solve the problem of the Typhon ever reaching Earth and destroying humanity. However, Morgan’s brother Alex wants to keep the research that was done on the Typhon, and instead pleads that you do something else, and this is only when I realised that the game very subtly allows you to make choices that affect the overall story.

The Optional Approach

I consider Prey to be more of a Psychological game than Sci-Fi Horror. The Typhon are threatening, but I haven’t felt scared since encountering them. When I first encountered a Phantom-type Typhon, I was freaked out, but they become such a common sight, along with the Mimics, they become more of a nuisance than anything else. Along with it being Psychological, the game seems to have elements of RPG to it. You choose the routes you want to take, and get to decide what happens to characters and eventually, to the research station, and I really enjoy this type of story-telling. Not only do you choose how the story progresses, you choose how you want to traverse the space-station. There is no set way to unlock certain doors or entering sections or rooms. There are multiple ways to enter different areas. I managed to enter a room that required a key code by breaking in through the glass ceiling, only later finding the key code to that same place. I mainly did this because I was digressing a bit from the story and explored as much as I could, getting a feel for the layout of the space station.

Neuro-modification!

You are later also given a weapon called a GLOO Cannon, that shoots a foam that hardens instantaneously upon impact, which you can use to climb up walls to reach areas that will allow you access into other locked sections of the space station. I only realised this later, eventually realising why January kept telling me, “If you can’t go through the door, I’m sure you’ll manage to find another way. You always do.” And now this isn’t even touching on all the other choices you face later. As you progress you find Neuromods strewn about different locations of the station, which you will use to enhance certain abilities or skills that Morgan has through the use of a Skill Tree. You then choose if you want to start out being able to Hack into terminals, Repair control Panels, be more Healthy by enhancing Health and Stamina to be able to survive a surprise Mimic attack, etc.

How To Survive

When you escape your apartment, you’re armed with nothing more than a trusty ol’ wrench. Great! Well, I’ll be honest, I’ve used the wrench more than I have any of the other guns, though when I reached Psychotronics, the source of the containment breach, I needed to use the shotgun and silenced pistol a bit more, but again, I get ahead of myself. The Mimics are pretty easy to deal with by using the Wrench, especially if you charge your attack enough to one-shot them, but then you need to hope that they don’t strike you first. They hit pretty hard, even on Normal mode. So I’m scared of trying out Nightmare (Though you can bet that I will!). If you so happen to have been struck, your suit will protect you from some damage but not all. If your suit takes enough damage, it will lose it’s effectiveness at reducing damage until you find and use Suit Repair kits. You can also regain health by using Medkits, or by consuming the various foods and drinks that you can find just about everywhere on the station, and when “Well Fed” you get a status boost for a few seconds wherein you regain a few health per second for a few seconds. Medical Operators also completely restore your HP to max no matter how low you were, for free even. What great service!

And remember when I said you can choose to do just about anything? The same can be said during combat. As an example, you are able to pick up and hold items in front of you, and once you have something in your grasp, you are able to throw it wherever you like, especially, say, at a Phantom. My personal favourite strategy to deal with the Phantoms, is sneaking around until I find explosive canisters, throwing it at them, and then finishing them off with a quick whack on the back! Although, later you meet enhanced versions of the Phantoms, either capable of Pyrokinesis or Electrokinesis, and they have a lot more health than the standard ones. Especially in this way, you are able to figure out what best suits you when fighting the various types of enemies you will be meeting, and you will be meeting quite a few weird ones. I started getting nervous when I listened to a message that somebody left, describing something called a Weaver, through their TranScribe device. I won’t spoil the encounter for you, but good luck!

Two Phantoms with enhanced abilities.

When you get the GLOO Cannon, you can shoot it at enemies too, freezing them in place for a few seconds, allowing you to run up to them with the Wrench and whack away until they shatter, or run away and hide until they lost interest allowing you to escape, because you are also able to sneak past enemies if you aren’t so inclined to want to fight. It’s pretty easy to just destroy the Mimics using this method, and I would recommend killing them so that you can harvest the Typhon‘s organs for later use. I opted early for the Necropsy skill in the Neuromod Skill Tree where you are able to harvest more organs from them. Reason for this being that you throw these into Recyclers around the station, which converts the organs into Exotic Material, which you can later use to fabricate more Neuromods at the Fabrication Station once you’ve discovered the blueprint or “plan” for it. There are more Junk items all around the station which is good to collect too, to throw into the Recycle Station and convert it into construction materials for Fabrication. The Phantoms were a bit more difficult to deal with using the GLOO Cannon, but it still saved my butt a few times, so I had it permanently assigned to a button for quick use.

Obviously, the more you progress, the more things you pick up and the more weapons you get to use. The Silenced Pistol comes early enough, but isn’t majorly strong, so I recommend saving your Weapon Upgrade Kits for upgrading the Pistol in the beginning, and then the Shotgun later too. I currently have 3 still sitting in my inventory until I can unlock the Neuromod skill that allows me to further upgrade them, however, once you reach Psychotronics, you are given the Psychoscope which allows you to scan enemies and gain a new tree in the Neuromod Skill Tree menu, where you can gain the abilities of the Typhon, such as the Mimic’s ability to take the form of an object nearby, or a psionic pulse that the Phantoms plague you with. I must admit, it was really weird seeing Morgan turn into a chair… But you can’t keep this form for a long time. You use up your Psy points, which you also regain by using the necessary items, or possibly even by visiting a Science Operator.

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Conclusion

Prey is most definitely a great reimagining of the IP’s original direction, and I love it. It feels like it borrows elements from other games, but at the same time, only enough to allow it create it’s own way of doing things. I really enjoyed the fact that it’s a mega-dungeon that you can explore at your leisure. And I also love the fact that the game still encourages you to think and choose how to approach a situation, especially when encountering enemies. It isn’t always necessary to kill all the aliens, and it’s better not to, because you never really know when a new or different one will take its place later on, in the same area. Later on you get to go outside the space station through the airlock. Floating around space was a bit daunting, and I had no idea when something was going to attack me. The malfunctioning turrets were a headache, especially out there. Throughout the game you even find chips to enhance your suit and psychoscope. I had loads of fun, and can’t wait to find out about the different endings there are. The graphics were gorgeous, especially in the beginning, and the music is brilliantly suited to the atmosphere of everything, all the way down to the sound effects of the Typhon, and the story really was gripping and often took me by surprise in the twists and turns. Make sure to read the various e-mails sent between the people on the station, as you find out the juicy details of the story through them! Overall, I’m very happy with the direction this Prey went, and bid a respectful farewell to the old. I highly recommend this Title! You can get it from BTGames for R645.00 on PC, and R825.00 for PS4 and Xbox One.

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