Whoo boy, I have literally just finished playing Prey and I’m still a little shell-shocked. That ending though. Also, since this game was released in 2017, I will be posting spoilers throughout the review, so reader beware!
Prey is an amazing first-person shooter game with an amazing story, an open world that allows you to explore a space station inside and out, and really cool game mechanics. The game itself was developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda, released in 2017 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Two expansions were also released, which I haven’t played: Mooncrash and Typhon Hunter. Arkane Studios has also produced the award-winning __Dishonored__® series, if you want to check out more from them.
The story revolves around Morgan Yu (I choose to be Lady Morgan Yu so I’ll be using she/her pronouns, FYI) waking up from some strange experiment where her memory is erased and she is forced to live through a ground hog’s day from hell. A mysterious character, later revealed as a A.I. created by Yu, helps her escape the simulation, though it just means she’s out of the frying pan into the cosmic horror fire. As Bethesda puts it:
HOSTILE ALIENS HAVE OVERRUN THE TALOS I SPACE STATION AND YOU MUST USE MIND-BENDING POWERS AND UNIQUE WEAPONS TO DECIDE THE FATE OF HUMANITY.
Simply put, you find yourself on Talos I, in orbit around Earth-Moon L2. During the course of the game, you learn that you and your brother have been the heads of this research facility, researching a highly creepy, utterly hostile alien species named the Typhon. As is the crutch of human hubris, the scientists weren’t able to keep the Typhon contained and they have, as aliens are wont to do, massacred the place.
Your mission, in the beginning, is to figure out what happened on the station and then what you want to do about it – you get the choice of just fleeing, which leaves everyone to die and allow the Typhons to get to Earth, or you can use a nullwave bomb to lobotomize all the aliens and preserve the research, or you can blow the whole station to make sure there’s no risk to Earth.
The gameplay is versatile, allowing you to choose between multiple ways to access a goal: if you have Typhon abilities, you can turn into a small alien to get into a locked room. If you don’t, you can hack the electronic lock if your skill is high enough, or use your huge muscles to pry open the unpowered door even. There are also several ends to the same mission, for example killing someone or just stunning them into unconsciousness.
During the course of gameplay, you get to collect an array of weapons and upgrade them, as well as upgrade skills and attributes using chipsets and Neuromods. You can choose to play aggressively, shooting up everyone and everything, or stealth along and hack into places or sneak around as a Mimic. It’s all really up to you how you want to explore the station and get around your enemies.
Nothing is as it seems aboard Talos I. As Morgan Yu, set out to unravel the clues you’ve left behind for yourself, and discover the truth about your past. What role will you play in TranStar’s plans, and the mysterious threat ravaging the station? – Bethesda website
Like I said at the beginning of the post, I am still blown away by the ending. Actually, the whole game was just this mind-bending, amazing story. So, let’s start there:
Okay, straight up, the first time a Mimic just burst out of a coffee cup, I almost dropped my controller. I may have uttered a – very small – scream.
That confession aside, I loved learning everything about the world, the altered history (you get to read a lot of material as you explore the station including that the Typhon were first discovered when they attached to a Russian space satellite in the 60s) and then you get to learn all what was happening on Talos I: the human experimentation, the love affairs, the DnD campaign, the Yus’ desire to keep expanding the human horizon. At first, you’re led to believe that you want to destroy the station, then you’re led to believe that you want to save it. Since your memories are gone, it’s up to you as the player to decide what you should do based on what you’ve learned and how you want to play the game.
I played pretty determined to validate my survival when I learned that was an option. I didn’t install any Typhon Neuromods, thinking that as long as I stayed completely human, that would matter (it did have a small impact on the ending but not tons). Also, I really liked having the turrets on my side, they felt like friends after a while and no way was I going to make it awkward by becoming part alien. In short, I didn’t want to break up with them:
I also tried my best to save everyone I could to help them get home too, except that fake cook. Fuck him. I got so invested in Danielle Sho’s romance, there was no way I was forgiving that asshole.
Regarding the game itself, I’m sure I could gush forever. One of my favourite parts was that you could just recycle everything and then manufacture ammo or tools you needed with the supplies you had.
My favourite mode of attack, for the Mimics and everyday average Typhon Phantoms, was what I called the Stop ‘n Bop, glue them boys up with my GLOO cannon so they coulnd’t move and then wrench them to death. There was something satisfying in it. Simple. Artistic.
And, as mentioned before, I liked that there are multiple ways to get to a solution depending on your skills. Since I went the 100% human route, I couldn’t turn into a Mimic or use psychic abilities so I had to rely on hacking or just forcing my way into places.
I also loved how many different types of Typhon there were. A new one always popped up when I was least expecting it and usually gave me a good scare. Also the fact that Phantoms were people. That was crazy.
Regarding gameplay, I felt like the HUD was really intuitive and intelligently designed (I was playing on PS4) so that I could be completely immersed without being brought out of it by awkward controls. The open world was beautifully designed and you could tell there was so much thought put into it.
At the end of it all, I decided to use the nullwave to blast all the Typhon while retaining the research that had been done. It was such a hard choice though. My reasoning was that, the Typhon had already made contact, they already knew we were here, so by blowing up all the progress made, we would be leaving ourselves open to attack with no way to defend ourselves. I mean, they had already made contact with us back in the 60s, there was no going back then. The Operator January tried to convince you otherwise, accusing the Yus of trying to be the big fish in the pond while the Typhons are sharks, but isn’t that human nature? Humans are always moving forward and pushing our capabilities, why would we stop there?
If you’ve played the game, you know that, at the end, you wake up in a room with a bunch of Operators and your brother…
Well, he’s not really your brother, is he? It’s revealed that you’re a Typhon whose been fed Morgan Yu’s memories. This seems to imply that the outbreak happened on Talos I is in the past and Morgan Yu died on the station. The Operators have the voices of several key NPCs you encountered in the game and they weigh your actions, basing their decision on whether or not you should be let to live on them. Alex Yu shows you an image of Earth wreathed in the Typhon Coral and reveals that, through the player, they are trying to put some humanity into a Typhon, so that they can make a link and maybe solve things. Your final decision, based on everything, is whether you take his hand and embrace cooperation or you violently murder everyone in that room.
I choose to take his hand, but, boy, I was so shocked that Morgan Yu had been dead all along. I kind of thought that maybe it would end up that she would turn out part Typhon because of experimentation, but I never expected that the outbreak already happened, Earth was already infected, and I was playing as a Typhon inside a simulation the whole time.
If you’re interested in the other endings, you can see all of them in this video:
Simply put, this game provided over forty hours of immensely pleasurable playing time. It’s such a rare feeling to find a game that absolutely draws me in and consistently almost makes me late for appointments just because I don’t want to stop playing it! If you haven’t played it yet, I highly, highly recommend it!
Onto the next game! Until then,
x P.L. McMillan