Prey, in many regards, callbacks to many of the defining immersive sims of yesteryear, taking the best aspects of Half-Life, System Shock, Deus Ex, and of course Dishonored and combining them to craft the wonder that is Talos I. This is a game that begs to be taken seriously in its systems, and all that it has to offer. But it doesn’t simply rely on inspiration, there’s a game here that has a ton of character, and it needs to be played.
In quite a few ways, Talos I is the protagonist of the game, and Morgan Yu as a character just sort of propels that. The game is all about mystery, so I’m going to keep it that way. Talos I is a dilapidated space station full of scientists working with extraterrestrial material to further progress on the neuromod. Once installed into a person’s mind, they can learn different specialties and abilities instantaneously. Want to speak fluent French in the matter of seconds? Install a neuromod. Want to play piano as great as Mozart? Install a neuromod, and so forth. In Prey’s universe, Kennedy wasn’t assassinated, and he put a lot of resources into winning the space race. As a result Talos I was decades in the making. With the Typhon outbreak on the station, it’s purely up to Morgan’s discretion to either kill or save anyone who is still alive, and solve the mystery of the typhon and decide what to do with Talos I.
Prey’s biggest attraction is Talos I itself. Dead corpses line the many facilities of the station, typhon are roaming everywhere waiting to pounce upon the unsuspecting player. The stories of the staff on the station are fascinating, and there was always something more awaiting to sate my curiosity.
There’s a lot here, quite a few areas of Talos I are completely optional, but I found myself exploring every single room possible to find more information about the Typhon, Morgan and Alex Yu, the neuromods, and Earth itself. There’s the constant roaming around in fear of being attacked, even though I felt that there was nothing to lose except for my sanity, given the all too frequent jump scares. The game nails exploration in all the right ways, springing up new sidequests for Morgan to complete in order to find more info about the station. There’s always something new to find and craft waiting around the corner, and it always satisfies personal curiosity in ways that many games just simply don’t. It’s the epitome of exploration in the modern-age of gaming, and that says a lot.
The game isn’t necessarily a first-person shooter, and it reminds me most of Half-Life in this way, there are many weapons to use, though many of them often go unused unless you’re bombarded with a gang of Typhon, and for the most part there isn’t much combat aside from the occasional attack from a mimic or a phantom, late in the game there’s a gigantic typhon that will constantly hunt you down.The game has two ability trees, one that’s a source of human abilities, and the latter being a tree for Typhon abilities. In my 27 hour long playthrough of the game, I never touched a Typhon ability, as I was completely satisfied with my own wits and the human abilities, despite the tree itself being supremely underwhelming late in the game. This system reminds of Deus Ex in some ways, as you can build abilities to hack better, to repair stuff easier and faster, and by scaling health and even movement speed. Pretty standard stuff, which isn’t disappointing but it could’ve had more flare, especially for those who want to avoid the Typhon skill tree like myself.
What amazed me about this game was that fact that it kept me on the edge the seat throughout the entire game despite being more well-equipped. The game has the player constantly scrounging for resources, which further enhances exploration and the necessity for it. Morgan Yu possesses a lot of power, that can used for either good or evil throughout the game. What you choose to do will affect the general outcome of the game, and change your perspective of the stunning conclusion.
The graphics aren’t anything to write home about, it’s the art style and the atmosphere where the game exceeds. Talos I, despite being finished in a post-modern time, has a very retro 60s Steampunk look, with intricate toilets that have a dozen pipes protruding out, rooms left unfinished, and just a very heavy retro ambiance everywhere you turn. It’s seemingly modeled after the Chrysler building and has the interior to match. With it being a space station, there’s a lot of moving parts that keep it afloat, though with the station being invaded by Typhon, there are some areas of Talos I that are in complete disrepair and now confined to space itself. Fortunately, Morgan can travel throughout space to explore the exterior of the station You can I.D the lost corpses, investigate breaches and there’s actually a lot more to the space around Talos I than I thought there would be, and I found even more stuff to learn just by heading out and jetting around, plus you have a direct view of the Moon and Earth. The game oozes style and it truly adds to the overall vibe of the game, Talos I is frightening and to some degree, obscure within its nuance.
Mick Gordon had his way again crafting an excruciatingly excellent soundtrack, landing its roots in 80s’ sci-fi with a heavy usage of a synthesizer. Many of the tracks are powerful, drifting through Talos I, I felt irked and alone, and when a mimic pops up my heart skips a beat as the the sound takes a dramatic shift and sends chills down my spine in quite the literal sense. It’s a hodgepodge of ideas and style, but it feels oddly nostalgic. It’s sincere even when it’s meant to place you on edge. It’s sensational, giving off different vibes at different times. It’s meant to ooze every emotion out of the player possible when the game deems it so. It’s almost insane how meticulous it truly is in it’s composition, and it made otherwise lowly moments into something I won’t forget.
Prey is a game that fully embraces not only its inspiration, but its own identity. It isn’t conflicted within itself. Arkane knew what they wanted to do with the game, and they exceeded my expectations. It’s an average game turned into something amazing, and that truly baffles me. Don’t let the series’ history lead you astray, this is a defining game that anyone who has interest in immersive sims needs to play. It doesn’t excel in every aspect, but it thrives on what it does right. Talos I is one of the most captivating and intricate settings I’ve seen in years from a video game, the plot is stunning by it’s conclusion, and while it’s central mechanics don’t consist of much depth, it’s an intriguing game nonetheless. And massive kudos to Mick Gordon for yet another amazing and enthralling soundtrack. Prey is an unforgettable adventure, that despite having some clear issues, makes for a remarkable experience.