When Prey was finally announced, the idea of being trapped on a space station with an alien organism filled me with a sense of dread. Mainly because I had flashbacks to my attempts at playing Alien Isolation before I gave up because I didn’t think my bank balance would appreciate the hit for the new underwear I would need to purchase. I have told myself I will try again someday but I’m not sure I’m ready. Surely, I would be able to cope with the Typhon in Prey though, right? I played the demo of the opening hour as soon as it became available. I realised then that the Typhon were going to be a bit of a challenge, especially with mimics around that can pretend to be ordinary objects around the Talos 1 space station. There’s nothing more terrifying than going to the bathroom and wondering if the toilet roll is going to try and kill you, is there? The demo left me wanting more. So when Bethesda kindly provided us with a review copy of the latest Arkane Studios title, I was ready and willing.
You play as Morgan Yu and you will take he or she (depending on who you pick) on a mission through Talos 1 while fighting the Typhon threat that has consumed almost everyone on board. You will have weaponry and skills at your disposal to assist you in this task and you may even choose to acquire Typhon powers in order to play them at their own game… but at what cost? Prey incorporates a lot of elements from titles which have been thoroughly enjoyed by gamers previously, namely Dishonored series and System Shock but it takes it a step further. The first thing you will notice quickly is that combining your weapons and skills will help you immensely in your journey through the troubled Talos 1. The aptly named GLOO gun, a multipurpose aid that allows you to fire a substance which can slow down enemies but also be used to create sturdy blocks to let you climb and get to out of reach places.
Similarly to the Dishonored games, Arkane’s style of allowing you to choose the way you play shines through. You can look for alternative routes that don’t require keycards and pick your powers as you go without feeling pressured to go with something in particular. You can choose to enhance your abilities through the use of Neuromods that unlock your potential to be faster, stronger and eventually when you locate a Psi-scope, you’ll have the opportunity to obtain Typhon abilities if you wish by scanning the creatures. The more Typhon powers you acquire, the more aware your enemies become of you and once friendly turrets, will become hostile as they detect the alien material that lies within. On my playthrough, I opted to only have two Typhon powers this time around but next time, I will take the plunge and acquire a lot more of the ‘aptitudes’ available to me. These ranged from mind control to kinetic blasts but I only picked the mimic powers allowing me to turn into coffee cups in order to get into the security booths. The Typhon can be tricky and fast. Mimics appear out of nowhere as they imitate chairs, equipment and items you just want to pick up. Phantoms come in a variety of guises each presenting you with a new challenge. Then you have Poltergeists (which I just couldn’t help but laugh at), Weavers, Telepaths and the Nightmare. Just when you think you have these aliens sussed, they corrupt an operator bot which turns against you forcing you to change your approach and use some of the additional weaponry you have picked up. I became a fan of the GLOO gun/shotgun combination but occasionally the recycler grenade came in very handy and provided some much needed materials to fabricate more ammo. Alternatively, you could go through the first playthrough and entirely miss one of the weapons… because that’s what I did so I would suggest not doing that and ensuring that you pick up every item in order to make the most of your experience.
The recycling element of the game is really interesting. It took me a few minutes to fully appreciate its simplicity and once I had fabrication plans for the items I used constantly, I was always on the lookout for a recycling and fabricating machine. Usually where there’s one, there’s the other nearby. So don’t ignore those flashing items that you might not want to take up valuable inventory space because when the time comes and you need more GLOO, medkits, bullets or grenades, you’ll wish you hadn’t sneered at all those banana peels and used cigars. You can also pick up chips for your suit and Psi-scope to improve them which can be particularly helpful if you’re on the lookout for mimics or have a tendency to get hit a lot by enemies. Overall, I was impressed with the inventory aspect as you still have to do a little work in order to upgrade everything but it continues the theme of playing the way you want to instead of forcing you to have certain perks that might not suit your needs. My only issue was that I found myself near the end of the game with not a lot in the way of materials to fabricate items. This was more my own doing so be sure to make the most of what you can find and use the Recycler Charge to create more useful materials out of enemies and your surroundings.
The further you progress through the story, the trickier things become. With your brother Alex causing issues by sealing all of the exterior airlocks making your space walks a little bit frustrating, you’ll have to figure out other ways of completing your missions. You’ll come across survivors who you can help or kill. Some humans aren’t so trust worthy though and you’ll end up deciding whether you wants to bother helping them at all depending on how you play that game of course. There is an achievement for not killing any humans but there’s also one for killing every human so you can take your pick. The sheer number of enemies seems to increase too as you return to areas you’ve already cleared so you always need to be on your guard. But my main tip to is explore everywhere. Every table, nook, cranny, locker and computer will conceal something you need. Be it ammo, food, junk for recycling, fabrications plans or just the passwords and codes for safes, you will benefit from taking a little time to have a look around before moving on. Searching bodies is also advised as they may have useful items on them too so if you do a spacewalk, be sure to check out the corpses that are floating around the exterior of Talos 1 too.
I’m not going to ruin the story for you, but all I can say is that not all is what it seems. With January, your personal operator and guide, filling in the gaps in your memory caused from the experiments that have been carried out on Talos 1, you start to piece together what has to be done and you might not like it too much. I don’t want to spoil anything but if you’ve been following my Preythrough streams since release then you’ll know what will happen and there are some different endings that are influenced by the way you have played throughout. It feels like you can do the campaign in your own time but I did find that towards the end, I ignored side missions entirely which I feel was an error on my part and I will most certainly want to play it again to try and finish them. As the space station is open world, with the exception of the times when airlocks are shut, you can pick up side missions which you can choose to finish or ignore. I do like the open world aspect because even though you are in one location, it’s nice to go off task for a while to get into an area which looks to be cut off but clearly has something useful in it. My only regret is that I didn’t explore everywhere as I feel that I missed out on a lot of items and side mission completion as a result. I guess I’ll just have to play the game again, oh woe is me.
Graphicly, Prey retains the familiar Arkane style seen throughout the Dishonored games but has been applied in a more futuristic setting. While it isn’t the best looking game in comparison to titles such as Horizon Zero Dawn (and it isn’t trying to be from what I gather) the Talos 1 looks pretty impressive during a spacewalk where you can take a few moments to appreciate its sheer size before turning around to see the Earth and moon just out of reach. The Typhon have a creepy ethereal effect during combat but are reduced to black goo once defeated which looks suitably gross against the crisp, clean and almost clinical look of the space station… well the areas that aren’t covered in blood, corpses and GLOO residue that is. The use of sound in this game has the ability to keep you on edge by preparing you for the inevitable moment when a chair turns out to be a mimic. You can hear Phantoms talking to themselves, mind-controlled humans telling you to stay away and operators running system checks. I found the sound cues would be so effective that I would suddenly be worried of imminent death just hearing a turret spring into action or even hearing a door open or close. This coupled with the soundtrack just creates an eerie atmosphere confirming that you probably aren’t alone wherever you are.
I have really enjoyed playing Prey and will definitely aim to do more playthroughs in the future to try a different approach by taking on more Typhon powers to see how that changes the game (seeing as I was a big chicken this time around and didn’t want the Typhon being more aware of me or turrets trying to kill me!). The open world approach delivers the freedom of exploring the environment and shows off Arkane’s talent for designing interesting play spaces and offering extended game play hours. I completed the campaign in around 14-15 hours but could easily have racked up more play time had I worked through more side missions and taken a break from the story to have more of a look around in some of the areas that would have been unavailable to me at the beginning of the game. This open world aspect coupled with the ability to take a peek into the lives of the other inhabitants of Talos 1 through reading notes and emails gives the game the light hearted, human element that you could lose while surrounded by ever present danger. My favourite day to day item found on the Talos 1 was most certainly finding the character sheets for a role-playing game some of the crew had organised.
My only frustration at times was that I had so many objectives on my screen that I couldn’t decipher where I needed to go next and during a spacewalk which resulted in me spending 10-20 minutes flailing around outside trying to find a way in just felt a little irritating. This also extended to the space station interior when there were several objectives and no matter which door I went through, I was still going the wrong way! You wouldn’t think it was possible to get lost on a space station, but I managed it. Other than that, I didn’t come across many issues that weren’t my own doing and the urge to replay for trophies and achievements is most certainly there. Arkane have built a place that they want you to explore, so my tip would be to do so and enjoy yourself while doing it, you’ll certainly be satisfied if you do.
If you would like to watch some of my Preythrough videos, head to the link below to get started!
Our thanks to Bethesda for providing us with a review copy of Prey for PS4.