Introduce me to…
You are being hunted.
They are everywhere… Everything.
You will not survive.
Welcome to Prey, a first person action adventure from Arkane Studio, the maker of the award winning Dishonoured series.
Pray has you stumbling around the gargantuan Talos 1, a space station orbiting the far side of the moon. The mass of metal has been infested with Typhon Mimics. A shape shifting alien race that is capable of taking a thousand forms and hiding in plain sight.
Their goal is simple: Kill you.
Come join me as I unravel a small portion of the mystery of Talos 1 and try and survive against the odds as I clash with one of gaming’s greatest foes.
I promise, by the time you finish reading this review, you will be booking a ticket for your own one-way ride to Talos 1.
Got Myself a New Job
Having started up the game, the first thing I was tasked with was selecting my sex. I fancied playing as woman this time, Morgan Yu.
After a brief loading screen, I woke up in my apartment, the year 2032 hung on the screen.
A high pitched whine from an alarm pierced my ears. I reached out, randomly punched buttons, and the screech mercifully came to an end. I stretched my legs out with a grunt, pushed the bed covers back, and slid out of bed.
Still sitting down, Alex, my brother, greeted me. Congratulations in regard to my position on Talos 1. As the electronic glass slid from dark to transparent it revealed a golden day. Alex cajoled me to move my ass as a helicopter was due to arrive to fly me to Transtar headquarters for ‘testing.’
With windows stretching from floor to ceiling, the golden morning light punched through my open penthouse apartment. Making every object shimmer purls of white iridescence on their edges. Outside, my balcony overlooked San Fransisco with a golden gate bridge standing tall and proud in a morning haze.
The room was modest, small in size, a studio apartment. A kitchen siting in the corner, breakfast bar surrounding it. A bottle of celebratory wine with a note, ‘from Alex xx’ sat on the left hand side. There was a computer In the corner and the rest of the room was full of psychology and alien origin books. My sort of reading material!
Everything in the room could be interacted with. Books could be picked up, read, then thrown missile like across the room. Bottles could be picked up and consumed, lights turned on and off. It was an incredibly liberating experience for the world to react in so many different ways to my interactions. No part of this world was placed at random. Each seemingly irrelevant detail told a small part of a grander story. Tiny threads, inter-winding, like a cross country road system.
Continuing to explore, I moved to my computer terminal and checked for emails. I had couple from other Talos 1 employees. Nothing major.
As part of my appointment, my brother Alex sent over a new spacesuit. The garish red garb hung stiff from my apartment door. I pressed the interact button and dragged the tight garment on. The plastic squeaked and chaffed as it flexed around my body. My fingers movement ungainly for a few moments as my nerves become accustomed to the extra layer of plastic skin.
Eager to start my adventure, I stepped through to a hallway of 2 tone brown. One end sat a fish tank of azure blue with a lonely fish swimming like a coded robot back and forth. He never seemed to do anything else!
To the other end, kneeling on the floor was Patricia Varma, the local handy person. She loves work. In fact I’m sure she deliberately looks for problems. There are only so many ways the one panel can break down surely? Despite her focused work ethic she always managed to say, ‘Good morning Miss Yu.’ Nothing else though. Ever.
I take the elevator to the roof, got in the awaiting chopper and was on my way.
Arival at Transtar
After a beautiful fly through of the city, The helicopter lands with a thud on the roof of Transtar and I get out. I take a lift down to the reception area were my brother Alex finally meets me. He told me about the Yu family way has always been different and the tests are tradition.
He pointed me toward the first test chamber and inside I was greeted by one Dr Bellamy who would be performing the tests.
I run through the first three tests quickly and Half way through Bellamy asked for a cup of coffee. I was not surprised. This must boring him just as much as me.
Then, it got interesting. The final test room had me answer a multi choice questionnaire. Basically, all the questions revolved around sacrificing somebody, be it me or another, for a greater good. I answered all the questions as controversially as possible. An aghast look was plastered across Bellamy’s chops. You didn’t expect me to play nice? Did you?
Suddenly there was a puff of black smoke, which disappeared as quickly as it appeared. At first I wasn’t really sure what had happened. I just stood there watching Bellamy through the observation glass.
Bellamy noticed two empty mugs on the desk in front of him. There was only one a moment earlier. Where did the other one come from?
As dumbfounded as me, Bellamy picked up the mug and examined it, unsure as to why it was there. Suddenly, the mug transformed in his hand into a black four legged oil slick.
The Writhing monster rammed an appendage down Bellamy’s throat. Nasty. What a crap way to go.
Then for some reason – maybe a fail safe device – green gas filled the room, and I was knocked out.
What Just Happened?
I woke up, eye lids sliding open and found myself back in my apartment as if nothing happened. Everything played out exactly the same way again:
The alarm went. My brother, Alex, greeted me again. I got up
I looked around. My instinct was clawing at my brain telling me something had gone wrong. It didn’t take long to note that something was not right.
The wine bottle that Alex got me as a present had moved. Before it was on the left of the breakfast counter. But now it was on the right. What was going on?
I took in my surroundings more and notice no other changes. Maybe I remembered differently, maybe the bottle was on the right.
I went over to my computer to check emails.
Six emails, all saying danger! Leave Now!
What. The Hell.
Something was definitely wrong.
I put my suit on, fought it on to my body and stepped through the door into a very, different, world…
And the rest you will have to find out for yourself.
The Grandest Lobby in All of Talos
Moving on to later in the game, so as to avoid any story spoilers, I step out into Talos 1’s hub section: the lobby.
The lobby of station Talos 1 stood grand before me, a vast cathedral like space. The station, eerily looped around the moon, the earth distant, dark in the infinite black. The sun, an eye squinting white blot, giving birth to a stream of yellow light that cut meandering shadows across the 60s like architecture.
The grandest edifice I have ever seen in any game, Talos 1’s Lobby acts as a hub for the vast interconnected station’s world. It’s a testament to what Arkane studios can conjour up within there collective minds. A triumph of digital architecture, that mixes so many different types and of styles of design.
The internal dressing impresses with every room. On many occasion it was reminiscent of the first Bioshock. Grandiose, bold in colour, lavish wooden browns and reds, gilded brass, and rooms filled with sculpture. It’s a lavish creation for the highest of classes. The greatest of intellectuals. The most powerful Moguls. Plebes need not apply.
I walked slowly down a grand spiralling stair case to be interrupted with the shuddering sound of a distant blow out. Through the window, I could see buckled metal and splintered plastic spat out into the vacuum. Looked like the station had seen better days.
January, A faceless person, that guided me early in the game via radio, informed me that I should head up to an office to watch a video. It will explain a lot to me. But, before I head in the direction of the blinking icon, I had a bit of exploring to do.
As I continued down the stairs, I could hear my steps echo though the cavernous space. Arty slabs of blue plastic, hung one after another in undulating side-to-side lines. All casting shadows far onto the back walls.
Having been distracted, I finished my decent and headed deeper into Talos 1’s maw.
Toilet Troubles: Part 1
Having walked to the back of the lobby, I noticed the lavatories hidden in the corner. Have you every noticed, there is always loot in game bathrooms. I ducked down with a click of the analogue stick, Stealth mode, and started moving in.
I always like to be prepared in games like this, It was quiet. To quiet. I pressed the triangle button and up sprang a radial menu where I could select whatever weapon or device I wanted. I had a GLOO gun, more of which I will explain later, and I had a wrench. For hitting things with. What else?
I moved into the female bathroom first. I skulked forward like a field mouse knowing a snake could have jumped out and devoured me at any moment. I was silent, silent like a…
I stopped dead, one foot still In the air, frozen. ‘Don’t move a muscle.’
A toilet roll rolled slowly across the tiled floor before coming to a halt in a dip of the grout. There were 3 of them but the other 2 were standing upright. Hmm, strange. Why would a toilet role, of all things, move?
I walked toward it, picked it up, examined it, nothing. It’s just paper you jumpy fool!
Suddenly out the left corner of my screen, one of the other toilet rolls, hurled itself toward my face.
Instinctively, I strafed to one side, the paper RPG, missing my head by a leaf’s breadth. As it past my face, the white of the paper morphed with a crisp zipping sound. A puff of black smoke and the paper spasmed into a dark spider like creature of nightmares. Four legged, it morphed and shape shifted like a sentient oil slick. It was a dreaded mimic.
These little beasts, the stars of Prey’s particular show, can transmogrify into any shape or form that’s similar size or mass. They will sit quietly waiting for to walk by, then transform, slap you in the face, then run off, transforming into something else.
I instinctively turned and swung down hard with my wrench but only made contact with the floor. The tiles spat shards back at me in protest. The creature contorted and conjured an array of black tentacles, mist like they slapped me across the head staggering me back.
Enraged, I gathered my footing then mashed the right trigger. The hard metal of tool came down upon the mimic. Black flesh? Liquid? Disintegrated from its body. It scuttled off around the corner, out of sight. The only indication of action, a zipping sound of it changing ‘cloths’ into a new form.
Stealth out the window, I ran out of the toilet back into the adjoining corridor were if found three lamps waiting for me. Two were standing, one was on its side. I held down the trigger, to raise and ready my weapon. And extra heavy blow primmed for action. I sprinted toward the over-turned lamp, a war cry bellowed out into my game room, ‘DIIIIIIEEEEE!’ Thank God I was alone in my house. And what would the neighbours think?
My wrench came down with the power of Thor’s Hammer and the lamp exploded into black chunks. Bingo! The mimic was dead. Humanity one, grotesque alien Zero.
I picked through the left overs of the slippery beast. The stench of tar, dragged itself up my nostrils. Eww, I stuffed a sticky organ into my inventory and ransacked the female toilets.
Toilet Troubles: Part 2
Having ransacked the female toilets of all worth, I head into the male equivalent.
I stepped forward confident from my previous victory. I would be ready for the next vile beast. As I entered, I noticed 3 sets of towels on top of a marble hand basin. ‘I’ve got you, you little deceitful shit!’
I readied my wrench and sped forward. All my energy, all my anger poured outward through my arm, through the wrench, into the single blow.
The towels just bounced to the floor.
This is the problem with mimics: they make you paranoid. They make you think that anything and everything could be a seething mass of living black cra…
A zipping sound rippeed close behind me and my screen blinked red.
One of the little devils, sprung from God knows where and attacked me. I must have walked right past the thing and it just stayed quiet. Clever Girl!
Good effort to Arkane, not only have the made an amazing enemy, but they have made it smart. These things will fight, and if they are loosing run away to fight again, they will sit, patiently for you to walk past to attack you in the back seconds later.
I sprung around and the black menace stood before me, four legs, hunkered down on the floor, sputtering from side to side, flexing its night like body. ‘DIE!’ I roared as I lunged in for an attack. The critter dodged me then slapped my leg.
Pain! Health down to 50%.
I swung my wrench at it again, slapped it, and took a 3rd of its health off. Now your talking, you line ‘em up, I’ll smack ‘em for home runs with my trusty tool.
But it didn’t turn out like that. Instead the giant black widow kept lunging for my face, Whow now. Not the face! 35% health, 10% health.
My space suit kindly informed me ‘Your health is low,’ in an evil mirror universe Steven Hawking voice.
Blood running down my legs, face hanging off, I needed a miracle.
Before I could regain my admittedly tiny amount of charisma, the black tentacled thing made one final attempt to end me, and then it did just that. I collapsed in heap on the floor. Dead.
Play on anything higher than normal difficulty, and the mimics are hard as nails. They are something to be feared and are definitely not wrench fodder. The higher the difficulty the more of them there are, and the harder they are to kill. So tread carefully.
Time to Quick Re-load.
Gloo Gun Fun
My quick load complete I was reincarnated, Morgan Yu number 5. Yes I have died before. Instead of heading into the toilets again, to have another bathroom brawl, I headed toward a small set of stairs that led to the reception area.
Next to the stairs sat an automated gun and I had no idea if the bullet flinger was friend or foe. I had no interest in cracking open Morgan Yu number 6 so I stealthed toward the gun, then with a hold of square, it folded away into a neet little box.
With the gun gone, I could smell a distinct tar oder which can only mean one thing: Mimic.
I needed to survive this encounter so I punched up the radial menu and selected the GLOO gun.
The GLOO gun is not a lethal weapon, instead it fires a gel that hardens on contact with any surfaces, expanding into large hexagonal balls, think footballs and you wont be far off.
The glue gun is the signature tool in Prey. The gel spitting cannon has many uses. The GLOO bals can be jumped on to create new paths along walls, but that’s only the beginning. It can be used to put out fires, stop electrical arcs, temporarily stop water, create temporary barriers, it can even raise heavy objects when it expands. Is there anything it can’t do?
It’s a typical Arkane creation. Like blink in Dishonoured, GLOO gives rise to so many options to traverse the terrain, to create new paths, your own paths through the maze like environment. Can’t get to that shaft up by the ceiling? Shoot a zig zag of GLOO on the wall to create some stairs.
And if all that utility wasn’t enough, it’ll even freeze enemies so you can bash them to death. Nice! Anything to help take these little shits out is welcome!
I heaved out the GLOO gun and it had a reassuring heft the settled it into my arms quickly. It looked bulbous in my view, full of gel canisters, pipes and projectile lobbing pumps. I was ready to bring this mimics scuttling to a Sticky end. I found an opening in the reception surround and walked in. Three Nuromods sat upon a shelf, I’ll have them.
Ow and another one on the floor, ill take tha…
The Nuromode transformed into heaving mass of black tentacles, slapping out at me, then dropped to the floor. I put some distance between the two of us, then started hosing it down. Cream hexagon orbs ballooned up off the floor then from the side of the reception desk. The mimic weaved and bobbed, dodging my pathetic aim. It closed the distance, than convulsed into a human sized hight. Big mistake. Treating the GLOO gun like a chain cannon I unloaded a full Mag. The writhing menace transformed from glittering black to to pumice grey. Un-moving, solidified.
It was a beutiful thing, this once lethal collection of tentacles, just stood there frozen in time. Beautiful as it was, I was worried it might shake its stasis off, so I pulled out my trusty wrench and started battering it to death. A few slaps later and the GLOO covered monster exploded into black mist and Typhon organs.
Going Down Into Security
Having dealt a blow to the Mimic hoards with my GLOO gun, I pointed myself toward a door saying security and pressed forward. Passing through the mechanical entrance, down a set of stairs, a door laced with the red was locked. I looked at the holographic keypad and it was crimson. Key card required.
I looked up – always look vertically in Arkane games – and there was an open duct, high up on the wall. A set of large pipes snaked away in the direction of the stairs.
I ran back up, and hopped on to the yard wide pipes and edged along them, aware I was high above the floor, to the open duct.
The duct enclosed around me like metal sarcophagus. At the end of the tunnel there was an open grate wide enough for me to drop through. I took a deep breath, tightened my grip around my wrench and dropped down.
I landed in the security office: fantastic.
This is the beauty of Arkane’s work, the levels are an arcing maze of possibility. Any objective can be completed in multiple ways. Any obstacle can be traversed using various routs. It’s a game about choice and that choice is seemingly never ending.
Being grateful for not being immediately attacked, I tasked myself with sifting through the information on the computer. Emails about different station board personnel, filter down through personal correspondence.
If you play through the game quickly without reading any of the emails, you sill get the main story arc, it will make perfect sense, it’s like undoing knotted thick rope: easy to see, easy to handle. But the emails, the videos, the incidental details let you delve into microscopic detail into Prey’s universe. Suddenly instead of unknotting a thick rope, your sat there with pair of tweezers, splitting individual threads.
Arkane has planted so much information, so much to discover that each character and computer transforms into their own mini narrative. And each is interesting, mysterious, adding to the greater whole. It’s triumph of story telling and it never drags you away from the interactivity of the game.
Having sieved the information, I opened the locked security door and headed back up to the Main lobby.
After rising out from the security office, I thought it time to put some of the Nuromods I’d picked up to use.
Nuromods are Preys’ way of giving me new and exiting skills. There are 3 skill trees, each specialising in a different flavour. Abilities range from having more health, to picking up heavy objects and hacking.
Each are fun to use, but Arkane has designed the skill system in such a way that most new areas can be accessed when you have the required skill. It very reminiscent of Metroid Prime, or the Batman Arkham Knight. At first there is only a small pond of an area you can explore, but as you acquire more skills, that once small pond turns into a giant ocean of exploratory possibilities.
The Nuromods are scattered judiciously throughout Talos 1. At a later point, you can even learn the ability to make your own which is crucial if you want to max out your character. And your going to need every one of them as the further up the ability tree you get, the more expensive they are to acquire.
Up To The Office
Having fiddled around with my nuromods, I ran up a flight of stairs and followed a white icon which was a guiding light to my goal. I reached the top fell through a first door, but the next door was locked. A computer terminal had a number of emails nested inside it. One of them offered me the keypad number.
I punched the password into the keypad, and the door hissed open.
I ran inside Expecting something great, some plot point to erupt before me, but instead I was just directed to a computer sat upon a crescent moon happed desk.
But first, I took time to look around.
Two large machines sat to one side of the room. These are the heart of the crafting system in Prey. The first machine can take any materials, such as wire, or orange peel, and turn it into little cubes of basic material. Material fall into 4 categories: Mineral, organic, synthetic, and metallic.
Each item will give a varying amount of each material type. For example, break down wire, and it might provide 0.5kg of metal and 0.2kg of synthetics. It’s great because nothing goes to wast.
The second machine, is the crafting machine. To make things first you have to find a blue print of the item you wish to make. Once that small hurdle has been sailed over, you have the matter of finding the right materials. For example, GLOO ammo can be crafted and takes 3 organic stuff cubes. Its a rewarding system as it lets you create so many things, there are well over 100 different blue print hidden throughout the caverns of Talos 1.
After playing around with the massive machines for 5 minuets I headed over to the pc.
I sat down, and moved the little pointer onto the play video file button. The room started to darken and a giant holographic viewing devise slid into view from behind a wall. A huge Loading icon, hung in the air.
It finished gather all the data needed and started to play…
And telling you any more would be spoiling it. It’s an amazing game, just go buy the damn thing!
What I have covered here is just a glimpse, just a scratching of the surface of what this wonderful world has to offer.
There is mystery at every turn. With each PC there is an email that eludes to conspiracy or personal lives that have butterfly effects on grander meanings. Notes and stacks of paper that allude to the ultimate fate of the station, yourself, and, above all, humanity. Everything on Talos 1 is a story to be reverse engineered and untangled.
And what about the alien menace? We know so little about them, yet never in a game have I clashed with such a dread inducing menace. The scuttling spiders could be anywhere, anything. It’s a scary prospect that never let me settle, I was always looking over my shoulder, checking duplicate items. I was forever swimming in a river of paranoia and washed away my strength.
Yes everybody who plays Prey will come to roughly the same finale. But no two players will come to the conclusion the same way. Each play through unique to each player. At every turn I was invited to carve my own path.
Prey is a triumph of design, not just gameplay, but in story telling. It’s a lesson in how games can deliver a story that steps beyond anything that film or book can deliver. It placed me in its universe, and let me unravel the plot thread by intricate thread in my own way.
For that reason I have no doubt in saying Prey is not only one of the best games of the year, but one of the best of this generation. It takes all the tricks that pressed Dishonoured into stardom and then leapfrogs over the top to become the best game Arkane have made.
It’s waiting for you to discover its truths, and its chilling lies. So what are you waiting for?
Grab your ticket and rocket off to Talos 1. This is one adventure you wont want to miss.