As a developer and publisher, Bethesda has the RPG genre down. Series like the Elder Scrolls and Fallout have become mega hits, and the stealth based gameplay of Dishonored has found a devoted following. On the opposite end of the spectrum, DOOM and Quake have hyper realized the epitome of the shooter. Now enter Prey, from Dishonored developer Arkane Studios that blurs these RPG and Shooter genres into one with a strong focus on narrative, depth and player choice. The game is a re-imagining of the original Prey which released in 2006, and represents a fresh take on the story presenting the game as an “open space station” where you explore, fight, play with human and alien powers and change the way the game plays and ends based on the choices that you make.
Developed by: Arkane Studios
Published by: Bethesda
Release date: May 5th, 2017
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
- SCI-FI THRILLER: 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?
- SINGULAR SETTING: Orbiting the Moon, the Talos I space station symbolizes the height of private space enterprise. Explore a lavish craft designed to reflect corporate luxury of the 1960s, and navigate interconnected, non-linear pathways built to hide countless secrets.
- UNIMAGINABLE THREAT: The shadowy extraterrestrial presence infesting Talos I is a living ecology bent on annihilating its prey. It’s up to you, one of the last remaining survivors aboard the station, to end the deadly attack of these haunting predators.
- PLAY YOUR WAY: Gain alien abilities to develop a distinct combination of powers and upgrade your unique skills. Craft increasingly useful items with the blueprints, gadgets and tools on board the station to overcome dangerous obstacles in your way. Survive unprecedented threats with your wits and ability to improvise.
Story & Setting
Prey takes place in an alternate timeline where US President John F. Kennedy survives the assassination attempt in 1963. As President, Kennedy directs more funding into the space program, allowing it to flourish. Drawn by humans’ activity in space, an alien force made up of many different species, called the Typhon, attacks Earth and the US and Russia join forces (sound familiar?) to repel and capture the Typhon. In a joint effort, they build the space station Talos I and put it in orbit around the moon to be used as a prison for the Typhon. The US eventually takes full ownership after the fall of the Soviet Union and creates research labs to study the Typhon. After a fatal incident between the scientists and the Typhon, the US shuts the project down.
Years later, the TranStar Corporation acquires the station. Advances in neuroscience allow corporate scientists to harness and control the Typhon, to study their physiology to create Neuromods that can retool the brain to add new abilities to humanity. The Neuromod sales take off and in 2032 there are now living quarters for employees on the station.
Your name is Morgan Yu and you awaken aboard the space station. When you wake up and check the immediate area you immediately see that things have gone pretty horribly. It will be up to you to figure out how you got there, what’s going on, and how you’re going to survive and get off the station.
As the Typhon escape imprisonment, you will be using weapons and abilities from the Typhon to make your way to safety. The station is presented as an open world, with progression through the world after obtaining key items or abilities making it similar to the structure of a Metroidvania game.
The player will be able to select certain attributes of Yu, including gender, and decisions made by the player will affect elements of the game’s story. To survive, the player controls Yu to collect and use weapons and resources aboard the station to fend off and defeat the aliens. From the onset you will be able to select specific attributes of Yu, like gender and the decision you make will affect how the story plays out. You will be navigating through the station, collecting weapons and materials to defeat the aliens that infest the station and ultimately escape.
The station will be completely continuous rather than having separate levels or missions, and you will have to return to areas you previously explored. Orbiting the Moon, the Talos I space station is a luxury private station designed with a heavy 1960’s aesthetic. The interconnected, non-linear pathways contain all manners of hidden loot and secrets to uncover. Furthemore there will be periods where the player will be able to move around the outside of the station in zero gravity to find shortcuts. Overall, the station itself will unfold in a Metroidvania fashion, gradually unfolding as you explore freely and at your own pace. Both the visual and gameplay design of the station give it a character to itself, that evokes images of Bioshock’s Rapture.
The aliens in question are a particularly ominous group that push this game into borderline survival horror territory and they have an array of different powers that the player-character can gain over time such as the ability to mimic common items like a chair. They are not orcs with lasers and instead are amorphous beings that border on the paranormal. Spooky. The enemies are differentiated based on roles and all will have specific considerations when deciding how to defeat them. One gets the sense that there will be multiple questions raised as to the nature of these beings. Something is definitely going on beneath the surface.
How you defeat these beings is where the game’s mechanics accentuate the story. The game’s progression system lets you choose between improving yourself via human powers like allowing you to run faster, jump higher, use firearms better and more or explore the alien abilities further, adding powers like psychoshock, superthermal and other esoteric offerings through the aforementioned Neuromods. This also adds a narrative structure to the game as you begin to make choices that compromise your humanity all in how you choose to survive. This resembles the plasmid reliance of BioShock and how the continued use would distort a person to their very core.
Crafting and devising new pieces of equipment to survive the alien threat will be paramount. The game resembles the first Dead Space in a sense that everything you will use has a lo-fi feel to it, as this was a science facility. Your trusty wrench will be your primary weapon and you will improvise new weapons that all have an industrial bend to them rather than commando style warfare such as a weapon that recylces material around you and condenses it into a black hole ball, similar to the improvised trash cannons of Fallout games. There is also a quick hardening foam gun that will bind enemies in place, and some experimental beam weapons. You will be able to make modifications to your equipment to allow for things like zero-g navigation. This DIY approach gives an immediacy to the game, and keeps it from straying into just another FPS in space.
The game will have multiple endings that fall into two major narrative structures depending on how the player broadly interacted with the station and surviving humans. Beyond that, there will be a multitude of little permutations based on how specific events have played out. This should make each playthrough unique and give players a reason to keep replaying to discover their wrinkles.
There’s a moodiness and heft to this game that conjures up images of games like Dead Space, Bioshock and Metro. The deeper RPG elements and progression, combined with branching narrative and multiple endings give this a new depth not seen in those games. This game has the potential to be one of those experiences that consume an entire weekend and leave you thinking about things for much longer.