My entire life is one big lie. I’m not living in a modern apartment in the center of a big city. I’m trapped inside a space station, a place where I’m only used to test some strange brain modifications. Humankind has evolved into something I never thought was possible. We’re using alien species to enhance our DNA. It just had to go wrong at one point. Today, we’ve reached that point and I’m forced to fight for everything I have.
Welcome to Talos 1
Prey starts off incredibly strong. After selecting the gender of Morgan Yu, the protagonist of the game, you start your adventure. Everything seems perfectly fine. You’re waking up in your apartment with a nice view on the big city. While walking around, you’ll notice the crazy amount of details that are put into the game, something you’ll keep seeing the more you advance. A lot of objects are open for interaction and even in the small place of your apartment, you’ll find e-mails, magazines and more, all revealing a little more about the complex story.
Once you are able to put on your special suit, a helicopter picks you up to fly over towards the labs, where you’ll start your new job. Arriving at the labs, you’ll notice the incredible presentation of the game. The graphics and music both are spot-on, setting the atmosphere right from the start. In the lab, you’re forced to complete four simple tests. Too simple even but somehow you’re not doing what everybody wants you to do. You feel like something’s wrong, things only get worse when a cup of coffee transforms into an alien life form, killing the doctor and his team. After these events, you wake up again, hear the strange voice of somebody called January, telling you to leave your apartment. You do as you are told but instead of stepping into the big city, you enter a research facility. Your whole life has been a lie, all this time you’ve been on Talos 1; a space station miles away from Earth. This twist forms the starting point and it couldn’t be better than this!
Discover and survive in Talos 1
Talos 1 is the main world here and it’s a blast to discover everything the station has to offer. Arkane Studios, creators of Dishonored, are responsible for this reboot and you can really tell by looking at this game. Just like the Dishonored franchise, Prey is filled with a lot of details and the graphics can best be compared to something between the BioShock, Systemshock and Dishonored. It’s a unique and gorgeous style that will leave you looking around for more hidden details multiple times. Combine this with the solid soundtrack and you know you’re playing a product of quality. The music can vary from soothing music while exploring to thrilling while you’re facing the dangerous Typhon.
Pray for your survival
The Typhon are the enemies in this game and they aren’t that easy to bring down. First, let me explain what they are. Typhon are aliens that started their attack back when humans were exploring space. The shadow creatures were no match for our power and were defeated to use for financial reasons. The humans found out that we could use the Typhon DNA to modify our own skills. Sadly, a Mimic Typhon escaped during the test, multiplying instantly and killing everybody it came across with on the station. Typhon aren’t easy to kill since they can mimic certain objects and hide in plain sight. Never trust all the objects you’re seeing, especially when there are many in a room. Fighting off these enemies is a huge part of the game and it will test your skills a lot. Prey isn’t an easy game, even on Normal mode, it’s a true challenge to survive. Typhon attack in groups and are extremely lethal. Later on, you’ll meet stronger Typhon as well, the Phantom being one of the harder ones to bring down. During the first hours in the game, you’ll really have to fight for survival since ammo is rare on this space station.
Explore the unexplored
Although you’ll have to fight a lot, fighting isn’t the main focus in this game, exploration in. The game doesn’t take you from place to place, it’s up to you to go where you want to go and reach places the way you want to reach them. You can almost always go with the easy way and find some keycards to unlock doors or access computer to retrieve passwords, or you can really start looking for alternative routes. The space station is filled with vents, hidden rooms, and breakable walls. Talos 1 is without a doubt the real star of this game and it’s amazing to see how much freedom the players are given. Even the way you interact with other survivors will have an effect on the ending you’ll see. Some survivors will give you new missions but again, it’s entirely up to you to discover a way to clear these missions. The game takes every interaction with the station and other survivors into consideration before you see the ending of the game.
Exploration is key and the more you advance, the more you’ll discover. Just like in games such as Metroid, backtracking is worth the trouble since new upgrades might make it possible to reach places you couldn’t reach before. Besides that, the game also gives you fun weapons like the GLOO Cannon, firing off a liquid that transforms into solid forms, great to create stairways or slow down enemies.
Weapons are a lot of fun in Prey since they offer some innovation in the genre. You won’t see standard weapons all the time and some like the GLOO Cannon really change the way you play shooters. Of course, the game is far more than just a shooter and has some RPG elements in it as well. Neuromods are huge in this alternative future and you’ll need those to change the way you play. You can add Neuromods to your system that will add alien DNA or enhance your human DNA.
Adding alien DNA to your system is perhaps the most fun thing to do. If you add enough and advance enough on that specific skilltree, you’ll be able to copy some of the alien abilities. You’ll be able to transform into several objects, for example, making it a lot easier to hide from other enemies or you can go poltergeist on them and blow everything in the air. Messing around with this alien DNA is great but be warned that the robots protecting Talos 1 will mark you as a hostile based on your DNA. That means you’re not only fighting Typhon but robots at the same time!
If you don’t want to face these robots, you’re able to enhance your human DNA, granting you more ‘normal’ upgrades like an increased inventory, better hacking skills or lifting heavier objects. Whatever you do, every enhancement opens up new ways to explore the space station and new rooms that you’re able to unlock. It really adds something to the game and experimenting with them should be something you should definitely try for yourselves!
Although it’s a great reboot, Prey isn’t the perfect game just yet. It’s a little too rough around the edges at this point and that’s really a shame. The game suffers from a lot of bugs ranging from floating objects to areas you can’t reach due to some technical bug. It’s a shame those bugs weren’t fixed before the game hit the market since they take you out of the immersion in seconds. I’m sure a lot of those will get fixed the next coming weeks but as it is now, there are just too many flaws to ignore.
Besides flaws, the game also changes somewhere near the end. Where exploration was the main focus first, it shifts to combat later on and that’s not something I really liked. Fighting the enemies is fun but due to the rare ammo, it’s not really fair to go from room to room only to face the same type of enemy over and over again. It’s too bad since the exploration works extremely satisfying, the balance between fighting and exploration was a little lost closer to the end of the game. But that’s really my only bigger issue I had during my time with Prey, nothing that big!
Prey is a worthy reboot of a franchise I hope to see more of in the future. The atmosphere is incredible thanks to the gorgeous graphics and impressive soundtrack. Exploring the thrilling space station while discovering the truth step by step really is something different and there are moments you’re completely sucked into the game. Prey has a lot of memorable moments thanks to the enemies and the alien enhancements but is a little too rough around the edges at this point. It’s a great game, one you should definitely try out, but it needs a little more polish to really become legendary good. That being said, it’s a game worthy of your time and money!