“…I am utterly enthralled by its magnificence.”
Last week, I talked about the first five days which I had spent playing Prey; a thrilling new sci-fi action-adventure title from the teams at Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks. Already I was finding the lore of the game deeply intriguing, the setting dreamily realistic, the gameplay action packed and exciting and the story a Matrix-like rabbit hole; constantly revealing new secrets and twists the deeper I dared enter.
If you need to catch up on the first part of my Prey review, you can find it right here – https://invisioncommunity.co.uk/2017/05/11/prey-first-five-days-prelude-review/
However, today I want to move on and take a crucial look at the game two-weeks after its release. I have had much more time to play now, and as I stated in part one of this review, what I want to focus on now is the development of characters, setting and story as the game goes on. Then, finally, I will give Prey the score I feel it deserves…
Firstly, let’s take a moment to consider the character development in Prey. After the first couple of hours, the characters appear to begin to take up their roles for the story ahead. Our protagonist, Morgan Yu, is a scientist who has dedicated himself to his research aboard the Talos I space station. Combining his DNA with that of the deadly Typhons’, the alien species which takes on the role of antagonist in Prey, Morgan has been able to develop abilities beyond those possible by your average human, all thanks to his Neuromod technology. It quickly becomes apparent however that Morgan has been taken advantage of, with his own brother appearing to have manipulated this ability to alter Morgan’s mind and cloud his memories.
The actual explanations in the game go far deeper than this still, but I will leave those for you to find yourselves. The important factors to consider are Morgan’s position now as a victim, and Alex Yu’s position as a potential villain. Other characters including rival AIs January and December seek to respectively either help or hinder Morgan as the story progresses, but it is this theme of two brothers in limbo that forms the key to the story. As the wider intentions and actions of Morgan and Alex are slowly revealed whilst the story behind the Typhon outbreak unfolds, the game becomes increasingly deep in terms of its story, and the writers’ prowess as throwing in twists at every turn stretches far beyond techniques such as simple jump scares to keep things moving. If this was a movie, it would be a Nolan vs Shyamalan special, with a little JJ Abrams thrown in for good measure.
The character development of key figures in Prey however is secondary in spectacle to the overall story. The Typhon threat is clear from the moment you first see a simple mimic in action, but just how great this threat truly is becomes more and more apparent as you play. The Typhon consistently evolve into larger, more specialised and more deadly forms as you move through the game, with various elemental and psychic abilities being used against you. A combination of the game’s weaponry and abilities is needed to overcome these challenging opponents, and although I reacted negatively to the stop/start nature of Prey’s combat in part one of my review, I grew to somehow embrace this method when the larger foes confronted me. Naturally, with the ability to take on Typhon DNA came the advantage of obtaining many of these abilities to use myself as well, which certainly changes up the overall dynamic of play. Taking on too much Typhon DNA however can lead to the powers which would otherwise support you becoming dangerous threats on top of the Typhon itself. Turrets used to be my friends. Now every corner can be a shitstorm of long-range automatic destruction.
Towards the mid and late game sections of the story, the true nature of the Typhon and the events aboard Talos I become increasingly clear, and how unfortunate they turn out to be. There will be no spoilers in this review, but players’ efforts to reach this stage are met with shock reveals and tragic revelations. Not everything you think you know is true. You were told this at the very start of the game. By the end, you realise you should have paid more attention. One thing is for sure; players will be left drooling for more… Fortunately, Prey has been developed by a fantastic combination of studio and publisher which any seasoned gamer will know means plenty of side quests and lore to explore as well. In Prey, this predominantly involves carrying out detective work to understand the fates of the crew aboard Talos I. In a similar sense to Fallout’s vaults, completing these gives you a greater understanding of the game world around you, and the form it took prior to the Typhon outbreak. The stories of the crew members and the wider epic jigsaw they combine to create are fascinating at the main story and the setting of Talos I itself. Prey is so rich with things to learn, I can’t see myself ever getting tired of exploring the misfortunes of my once-ambitious crew mates.
That covers characters, story and a little of setting too, but I want to finish by reiterating the overwhelming beauty of Prey’s world that is Talos I. This space station is not only a well-designed game world with refined, realistic features and a beautiful aesthetic made tragic by the events within, but it is now one of my favourite game worlds too. Possibly one of the best I have ever had the pleasure to roam in. The story that unfolds within the confines of Talos I is complimented exponentially by the restricted yet seemingly limitless reach of the station. Whilst you are trapped within a relatively small location, the way that the space has been designed and then utilised makes it the perfect spot to tell Prey’s story. I almost want to see Talos I before the Typhon outbreak, just to experience the bustling of life within the station that would serve only to make it even more fascinating still. Nevertheless, Arkane’s design team certainly succeeded in giving Prey the perfect backdrop for its story.
And so, onto the matter of giving Prey a score. In part one of my review, I summed up the game by saying that “I am engrossed in every part of it”, and that fact still stands after a full two weeks of playing it. Everything about Prey, from lore, to setting, to horror, to story, to the weapons and Neuromods, to the gameplay, to the characters and more, is simply fantastic. Thus far, this is undisputedly by favourite game of the year. It is the kind of sci-fi game that I have always wanted, and it surpasses even some of Bethesda’s greatest works to date, in my own humble opinion. In 2016 DOOM was my game of the year. In 2017, as things stand, it could in fact be Prey. Needless to say, if you haven’t picked up Prey already then you shouldn’t wait a second longer. Prey excels at defining the sci-fi gaming genre for a new age, and I am utterly enthralled by its magnificence.