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Prey Review - Two Races, Only Space for One

As a fan of the original Prey, does Arkane's reboot feel like a fresh take on the series, or is it better off left at the mercy of a Black Hole, destined to become nothing more than just another forgettable FPS?

Enter Morgan Yu, the main protagonist of the game. High up in the Heirarchy of Talos 1's ranks, the Morgan you play is in a sense his/her own worst enemy. Why is this? What events transpire and lead to such an outcome? That, you'll have to find out for yourself, but with a number of different powers and weapons at your disposal, you're in for one hell of a ride!

Prey's story has several twists and a fair amount of choices that effect your relationships with other survivors over the course of the game, but it isn't until the final chapter of Prey that your choices really matter. At this point, from what I could gather there are a total of four different endings plus a hidden, secret ending that will play out post-credits (once unlocked). It's worth unlocking, because this is without a doubt, Prey's biggest twist and is one I very much welcomed.

Check out Prey's opening song to really get you in the mood for this great title.

For me, Prey's story was off to a great start. The opening cinematic was exciting and incredibly upbeat with the help of an amazing soundtrack to really get you in the mood to play, but shortly after things went a little downhill. This is partially down to the fact nothing quite compares to the epic, opening in-game interactive cinematic. There are a few stand out moments as you approach Prey's climax, but where most games rely on impressive and exciting animations to push the story forward, Prey instead gives you a whole entire Space Station to explore, interact and play around with. There isn't a real need for story driven animations when the entirety of Talos 1 has mysteries to solve, corpses with their own stories drifting through space and most of the in-game dialogue found on Audio Logs via Computer Terminals or the deceased scattered throughout Talos 1.

That's not to say Prey is a bad game, because it's quite the opposite and although plot is usually the make or break point for most titles, this is Prey we're talking about. Through exploration alone, Talos 1 has its own story to tell as you navigate your way through wide and narrow corridors, around hull breaches and even through space itself.

The exploration in Prey is incredible. Talos 1 is a huge Ship with so much to explore and although it can be pretty overwhelming for the first half of the game, once you get used to the map, understand that the quest markers don't always point you in the right direction (leading you to locked doors and other such obstacles), you'll soon be finding your own way around Talos 1 and deciding which path works best for you. Just to give you an idea of how big the game really is, it took me just under 40 hours to do most of the side quests that I found alongside the main quest line. This would be significantly less if you were to ignore all side quests, but with exploration as fun as this, you'd cheapen your overall experience.

If you haven't guessed already, Prey is a great game. It has nothing to do with the old Prey of 2006 and is very much something new, fresh and welcomed. As a fan of Retro Electro 80's inspired music, the soundtrack to Prey really delivers. Synthwave is trending right now and as someone who's been following it for close to five years, this is top stuff, guaranteed to cater to not just fans of Synth or 80's inspired music, but also anyone with even the slightest bit of appreciation for the Science Fiction genre.

Moving onto the gameplay, the weapons on offer are a little limited, with some being a lot more useful than others, but once you've found one you really like, you're likely to stick with it for the majority of the game. There is a degree of balance here, with different enemy types having differing strengths and weaknesses, but virtually all of your weapons can kill the Typhon. In terms of firearms, you'll find yourself coming into possession of a Silenced Pistol, Shotgun, Toy Bow (this fires foam darts and although harmless, is more of a tool and the only weapon in the game that has no effect against enemies), a Wrench, multiple Grenade types, a Taser (which is highly effective against the flying Operating Machines), the GLOO Gun and the Q-Beam, which is more effective against the tougher Typhon entities of Prey.

Check out the history of Talos 1 in the video below.

In addition to this, you have a straightforward crafting system. To craft, you first need to collect a mixture of organic and man-made items, such as banana skins, Typhon parts, unused weapons, used cigarettes and other such rubbish you'll find throughout Talos 1. You'll then need to take them to any of the Recyclers within the game, breaking them down into basic crafting materials. You'll then have to make your way to any of the Fabricators also dotted around Talos 1 (many of which are next to the Recyclers anyway), choose your desired product, place the materials into the Fabricator and then select create. There's no real limit to how many times you can do this, though if you try to make too many Neuromods, you'll be locked out, eventually leading you on a mission to override the lock, allowing you to then make as many as you wish, limited only by the materials you possess.

Craftable items include Suit Repair Kits (essentially your armour), Psi-Hypos (these replenish your Psi power), Medkits, Ammo, Neuromods and portable Turrets, along with multiple quest objects and other similar, but helpful items. The Turrets are without a doubt lifesavers, so be sure to deploy them in tactical locations if you plan to get through some of the tougher fights of the game.

Though it's not forced upon you, you'll find yourself crafting more and more the further you progress through the game. This is due to an increase in Typhon numbers, tougher enemies in general and depending on the difficulty you're playing through, resources will also lessen considerably during the later missions. In case you're curious to know, my review is entirely based on playing through the Hard difficulty and for me, the biggest challenge came from being unprepared for a number of unforeseen encounters earlier in the game, where I didn't exactly have many powers or abilities, due to a lack of Neuromods.

In Prey, it's quite often do or die.
Neuromods are Prey's equivalent of skill points, only they're more like physical implants and can both be found and crafted (once you've acquired the schematic). These allow you to mod yourself up with a number of different offensive and defensive powers and abilities. Each power/ability requires a certain number of Neuromods, increasing in cost depending on how far you go into each skill tree. The upgrades are divided into six sections, with the top three being based around your weapons and human abilities, while the bottom three are exclusively related to the powers of the Typhon, though advancing further into this will make you more and more like the aliens threatening your very existence.

During my playthrough, I didn't want to fall more onto the Typhon side than Human and although I chose barely any Typhon powers, the turrets and machines that would normally aid me saw me as a threat regardless. This felt a little harsh, but was hardly an issue when I could hack almost anything to aid me by that point. A few examples of the Typhon abilities were mental shielding powers, dampening effects which made specific enemy attacks only half as effective against you, mind control (turning enemies against one another), slight health regen after taking damage and the one which I used the most - Combat Focus. Though I only went with Regen, Environmental/Elemental Defense and Combat Focus, this was what pushed me into the boundaries of a Typhon myself, though I could have easily completed the game with Combat Focus alone. All it does is slow down time for a limited duration, but with a maxed out Shotgun, it's the most overpowered ability within the game.

Funnily enough, when Arkane and Bethesda were kind enough to email us a code of the game, they added a little note which gave us several tips alongside the embargo date. Within these notes, it read "be careful which powers you choose to use, because you won't be able to get every upgrade within a single playthrough". Although this is likely true in most respects, I actually found a glitch where I could create an infinite amount of materials, meaning I could make any number of any item I desired. Though you could argue this is cheating, I didn't discover it until I was around two thirds of the way through and for reviewing purposes, it really helped to speed up my play time. Be sure to view part of my playthrough below to see how I did it.

In addition to crafting, all weapons minus the Wrench could be upgraded, along with your suit and a special visor known only as the Psychoscope. The latter two require chipsets which you'll find during exploration and occasionally be given as quest rewards. The most useful chipset for the suit was the ARTX Propulsion System which can be used in Space and also as a thruster, helping you reach areas you otherwise wouldn't be able to. In Space these upgrades determine how fast you can move around, though you'll never be fast enough to dodge any Homing Attacks the Typhon may possess, so keep that in mind when you find yourself in a tight spot. The most useful Psychoscope chipset I acquired was one that allowed me to scan an area for disguised Mimics. This came in handy when I was low on life, so I'd highly recommend using it.

There's certainly a lot to discover within Talos 1 and many ways to approach each task at hand. Although Prey is more an Action Horror title than anything else, it's not afraid to lighten the mood with nods to other games, such as DnD (Dungeons and Dragons, the dice based tabletop RPG) and one of the Nintendo 64's most iconic FPS titles, found at the completion point of one of many side quests featured within the game.

On the subject of weapons, the Shotgun was my favourite and quite often killed enemies at point blank with one shot (as you'd expect with such a notoriously powerful weapon). What had me a little disappointed however was the GLOO Gun. This weapon (which was meant to be as important to Prey as the Portal Gun was to Portal) was useful, but just not as useful as I'd have liked. When fired at enemies it'll freeze them in place for you to whack with a Wrench or blast repeatedly with your Shotgun, but for platforming it simply didn't deliver as well as it should have. It was useful at stopping gas leaks, putting out fires and creating pathways across electrified areas, but was only half as effective when it came to using it for platforming.

If you needed a way up and out of your current area, blasting climbable slopes up the walls was no problem at all. It even provides a climbable surface just wide enough for you to stand on without falling. The issue is it just doesn't stick to itself, so when I wanted to completely block up doorways or make bridges across the many areas I discovered, I felt rather limited here. It needs somewhere to anchor to, but doesn't anchor to itself, so you can't stack it up to make pillars or create entirely new walkways as wide as you please. To some this would be minor, but this makes it more of an optional utility to me, rather than an essential tool that's on par with Portal's Portal Gun.

Space - The Final Frontier.
One of the greatest aspects of Prey is how well Arkane have succeeded in portraying Talos 1 as a derelict wreckage of a Space Station, shrouded by enough mystery to pull you in and once you're in, it's like trying to escape a Black Hole. You can try, but with each passing moment you'll find yourself even more deeply immersed than the last. The exploration is both thrilling and exciting and as you begin to familiarise yourself with each individual section of the ship, you'll quickly learn faster routes to each location, discover the most effective ways to take out every opponent you come across, while at times, the Space exploration will leave you breathless. The only real downside to exploration are the excessively long loading times between each area, which can be a little frustrating when you need to jump back and fourth between the many sections of Talos 1. There's sadly nothing quick about it.

For me, the Space exploration was the single most greatest aspect of Prey. The animations, the sound of your breathing apparatus, the eerie silence of Space itself, the drifting bodies of those who died trying to escape Talos 1, the man-less pods caught in orbit, the way you floated around, the stunning view of Earth, our Moon, the Sun and even just simply how easily you can disorientate yourself. All of these moments made for an incredible experience and offered endless amounts of fun. Sometimes I found myself just enjoying Zero Gravity as I spun and jetted myself around with my Suit Thrusters. You would think being able to fire a Shotgun in Space would ruin the immersion, but it didn't at all and was quite often the only thing aside from my suit keeping me alive.

Overall, Prey does so much right that it can be forgiven for its minor flaws and less interesting moments. It starts off well, the story becomes forgettable the rest of the way through and then picks up again towards the end and right where it counts, but it's really not about that. It's about the exploration, the experience and the feeling of journeying into the unknown. The small amount of characters you do come across all feel convincingly real, even somewhat relatable in places and with such a twist at the end, you're given reason to play Prey once more, seeing all of your previous actions under a new light.

Arkane prove to me time and time again just how great they are at creating rich and immersive worlds and Prey is no different. Arkane Studios are at the top of their game right now (no pun intended) and I'm looking forward to seeing where Prey could possibly go next, along with whatever else they have in store for us.

Agree with this article and wish to share your own epic Prey situations with us? Let us know in the comments below or hit me up on twitter @CaptainCortez!

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