After wrapping up the Dishonored storyline in Death of the Outsider, the last item on my Arkane Studios list was their Prey game. The great immersive sims that Arkane Studios is known for shines in this game with the new space station setting. Its System Shock 2 influences are apparent and very welcome. I loved Deathloop, but this game is edging that out as my favorite of their games.
The Prey Game Talos 1 Setting
I’ve spent plenty of hours in the Dunwall setting of the Dishonored series through the games and DLC. Most of those hours I spent after completing Deathloop’s 60’s island setting. Prey was a great change from both.
It all started with a near future apartment and a helicopter ride across the city. Right away, Prey raised the curtain on the whole city setting illusion. I already knew the Prey game takes place on a space station, but the head fake with the starting apartment was nice.
The awe of the first real look out the window of the Talos 1 space station was one of those great gaming moments. I loved all the labs with futuristic security, experiments and presentations laid out amongst the chaos of inside Talos 1.
One of the best weapons in the game was even part of an experiment. I was able to test fire with button controls on the outside, then go into the room and pick it up. The Sci Fi theme of the whole game is fantastic.
Prey’s Story Flips Things on its Head
As I’ve mentioned I love before, the game beginning weaves aspects of a tutorial into the story. It’s the first day at a new research job for the main character, Morgan Yu. The research program is run by his brother Alex Yu.
The tutorial runs through some weirdly simple lab tests, until a flash of a spider-like alien turns into a copy of a cup. Once the scientist picks up said cup, all hell breaks loose and lock down ensues. The Morgan blacks out and the scene resets to the beginning of the morning of the first day like Groundhog Day.
Escaping the Simulation Like Neo and Morpheus
A mysterious source warns Morgan to get out of the apartment immediately. It reminded me a lot of when Morpheus called Neo in the Matrix. That comparison grew stronger when I literally broke the glass on the simulation. It was a whoa moment like the Clockwork Mansion from Dishonored 2.
Turns out the apartment and intro helicopter ride was all a simulation. The real world was the Talos 1 space station research facility. The “mimic” aliens that were research subjects now run loose on the station. True to their name, they can mimic common objects in the world providing near infinite jump scares.
From there it was an adventure of running, fighting or hiding from Aliens. All while following instructions from the mysterious “January” and listening to Alex’s pleading for understanding. It’s not long before the game alludes to choosing to listen to your brother or the mysterious January by the time the game ends.
Prey Game of Paranoia
The mimic ability to disguise itself as most objects equals plenty of paranoia in the first few hours. Every time I saw two of the same object when I’d expect to see just one, I quickly hit it with my wrench. The first few hours involved a lot of swings of my wrench, sometimes I felt silly while others I hit a Mimi.
Later, I received an upgrade to detect mimic nearby, but that beginning paranoia stuck with me. Nothing like trusting no object in a game of paranoia.
I love how the story is told via the environment, audio logs found, computer emails, files and Looking Glass holographic TVs. It’s a great high tech way to advance the story mirroring the futuristic setting. This drives exploration to piece together more of the story of what happened.
More Ways to Play the Prey Game my Way
The immersive sim gameplay Arkane Studios is known for boils down to stealth versus guns blazing. Loud or quiet or mixing both together depending on the situation. I feel like Prey goes much deeper in the ways to play.
Neuromods are the games in lore way of upgrading abilities. The nice sticking needles through the eye to touch the brain thing is definitely creative. I loved the initial categories available to upgrade: Scientist, Engineer and Security.
I started off with Scientist upgrades like Hacking and Physician for more effective health kit usage. Next, I upgraded Engineer abilities like Leverage to move heavy objects, Repair to fix machines or turrets and Lab Tech to upgrade tech weapons.
Security upgrades center around a more direct approach with things like Conditioning, Firearms, Stealth, Combat Focus, Etc. Instead of those, my tech heavy abilities let me hack into doors and computers instead of finding the password or code. I loved hacking through security systems and repairing turrets.
I could have opted to upgrade Leverage to force doors open instead of hacking through or searching for codes for them. Instead of my favorite technique of carrying turrets to help watch my back in new rooms, I could have upgrade my firearms abilities.
It’s amazing how well the game holds to the “play your way” mantra. Might be fun to playthrough later on with a heavy Security center build to see the differences.
Gloo Gun Greatness
There’s several conventional and energy weapons, but the Gloo Gun is the standout. It does for this game what the gravity gun did for Half Life 2. It’s a non-lethal foam thrower. Right away, it’s so useful for freezing mimics in place, temporarily.
Slowing enemies down is a great feature, but there’s so many other uses beyond that. Spraying foam up walls creates a staircase to unreachable heights. It puts fires out, plugs leaks in pipes and can even seal small hull breaches. It’s the most useful gun in Prey.
Recycle and Fabricate to Turn Junk in Treasure
Collectible junk and extra weapons are found throughout the station, and I love how these tie into the genius Recycle and Fabricator system. Any items from inventory are available to transfer into the Recycle bin of the machine, then press the button at the center of the machine to watch the molecular breakdown. The machine dispenses cubs and balls of the various elements for pickup.
On the Fabricator side of things, those same material blocks and balls go into the machine grid. After choosing what to fabricate and placing enough resources, the machine 3D prints the chosen item. Weapons, kits, ammo, Nueromods and more, available to fabricate. Plans are either found around the station or downloaded from computers. Another great reason to explore.
Back to Saving the Station or the People or Both
With the Prey game, the story feels like it’s mine. Sure Arkane Studios created the story beats, but all the freedoms the game systems provide constantly reminded me there were other choices. Skills to upgrade, weapons to choose/upgrade, choices to make or not make. I’m can’t wait to see where my story goes.