May 22, 2017
Prey - Review
When it was announced last year that Prey was coming back, part of me hoped at first that it was going to be more of a sequel to the title that released back in 2006 and while bummed that it is not that, what is on offer is something special.
You step into the boots of Morgan Yu, the leader of the space-station known as Talos 1, which floats out there, as the only research station of the Typhon, parasitic space aliens that have somehow broken containment and are now slowly taking over the station, the problem is that if a single cell of the Typhon survives, they can replicate and if they make it to Earth, it is game over. Not long after you find yourself breaking free of the shackles of the virtual world that they have you in, you discover just a little of what is going on and what needs to be done, destroy the station. That is it, there is no series of plans to go through, before that becomes the final option, it is the only option, nothing can survive the destruction of Talos 1, not your brother, nor any of the other survivors and not even you, everything must be destroyed.
The story of Prey is very basic, there are people who will try to stop you, some who might try to assist, it really will vary based on how much you explore, because exploration will let you discover lots of extra information, which all helps to build the world. As you move around the station, which is broken up into many habitats, you can learn more about the people, from reading their emails, to discovering what they had lying around in their desks. Even the books that you will notice lying about the place will help provide context for the world that you are set to explore and exploration is key, not only to discover the story but to build up your resources, which are crucial in surviving the Typhon threat.
Resource management is perhaps the element that you will spend the most time experiencing in the game, the big thing here is recycling, if you see something not nailed down and it can fit in your pocket, you can recycle it. When you recycle, each item gets broken back down into its base elements, food becomes organic material and once you have enough of those components, you can use them to craft a med-kit. When you start to run low on any single supply, you will need to search every nook and cranny for items that you can recycle and while you can pick up enough objects in each room, your inventory is going to restrict you from becoming Captain Planet. Your inventory is going to be taken up by the items you pick up, along with your weapons and their ammo and no weapon is more efficient in helping you combat the Typhon threat than the Gloo Gun.
The Gloo Gun is a perfect tool for exploring the Talos 1 with, much like the gravity gun in Half Life 2, it became my go to item of choice, both in combat and out of it. When you are not in combat, you can use the Gloo Gun to help you get around, plug holes that are the cause of fire, even create a staircase out of glue to get up to higher places, the options are pretty cool. Taken into combat though the Gloo Gun works in your favour by slowing down the Typhon and if you add enough glue to the, even freezing them in place for a limited time. Once frozen, you can switch to any weapon you desire, for the smaller Typhon, the mimics, I suggest the wrench, but for the larger ones, the pistol or even better, the shotgun. Combat and exploration can be enhanced by the use of neuromods, the upgrade system that you use to help yourself gain extra abilities.
Neuromods work in that you can select abilities from several groups and upgrade in any order you desire, the upside to this is that selecting the right upgrade will give you an edge in a scenario that you may encounter later. The downside is that each of the upgrades feels like it could be used in several ways and ignoring a specific upgrade for another one might have you doubting your choices. One of the early upgrades that I obtained was the ability to lift larger items, on its own it does not sound to interesting, however there was a hidden path I discovered that was blocked by large heavy boxes, but as I could move them, I was able to get past, after looking around, I discovered another method for gaining entry. The problem with the nueromods is that not all are helpful to you, sure turning into a chair or a desk fan is cool and does help you hide, if you enhance yourself too much into the Typhon tree, then the station starts to see you as a threat.
Perhaps the strangest part of the game is the visual style, each of the sections of the station is crafted to suit that style of place, the lobby is very open, multiple levels and couches everywhere, whereas the maintenance section is very industrial, lots of pipes around the place, crates and more as well. While each section of the station has their own design, the entire station is themed like a new-deco art style, there are lots of gold and browns around, but rather than it being a clone of that style, it feels more that the entire style had been interpreted and blended with modern space designs. The Typhon feel more like have finished sketches, they have defined shapes, which helps separate them from each other, however I just never thought of them as a terrifying enemy. One part that did scare me was the humans, they are a blend of a new style and the Dishonored style and while there are not many human characters that you interact with, the ones that you will, well they will most likely seem off to you. The game also had some issues with load times, on Xbox One at least, they were long, very long and while you can grant a pass for the first load into the game each play session, seeing super long load times between sections is not ok.
Sound wise, it’s hard to describe, games set in space have this strange way of either nailing the atmosphere or not and while when you venture out into space itself, there is a complete lack of noise, outside of your own character’s breaths, inside the station it’s a mix of quiet and crashing noises. The Typhon themselves don’t make any noise when walking around, though they will occasionally make some strange noises, that one could construe as speech, the ones that make the most noise though are the mimics, mostly because when they attempt to blend into the room they are hiding in, the object will usually fall down. The human that you do interact with all sound fine, they pass on their thoughts with a sense of credibility, however they look strange, like seeing a Dishonored character in the world of Mass Effect.
Prey is a game that some people will really enjoy and others will find to be dry, I fall towards the dry side of the argument. There is no denying that the world is wonderfully created, but when the bulk of my time was spent recycling and looking for things to recycle, it made me stop and wonder if it was worth my time.
Thanks to Bethesda for supplying the game for review.