Humanity has been dreaming of discovering not only the uncharted corners of the world but also exploring the depths of space. Other than proving we are not alone in this universe, there are still qualms like the fear of the unknown and the abuse of the untouched alien resources. Those realizations are explored in Prey.
Prey is a first-person, action-adventure shooter with RPG elements. Serving as the re-imagining of Human Head Studios’s Prey, the game was developed by Arkane Studios SASU, a French company and Bethesda’s subsidiary known for developing Arx Fatalis, and published by Bethesda Softworks LLC, a widely-acclaimed publisher for their Elder Scrolls series, Fallout 3 and 4, and the Wolfenstein prequel series.
The story takes place in an alternate history. In 1958, Russia launched the satellite Vorona-1 to orbit around LaGrange Point-Two, a region between Earth and Moon. When the satellite experienced a communication failure, Russia sent its cosmonauts for investigation but they were presumably killed by the Typhon, a collective of hostile and shadowy alien species. In 1963, Pres. John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev went on a joint venture called Kletka Program. Their aim was to establish a space colony, at the same time contain the Typhon. When Pres. Kennedy survived from his ill-fated assassination plot, he decided to take over and fund Kletka program but it yielded no fruitful results. In 1998, Vorona-1 was temporarily shut down after a Typhon outbreak, killing most of its researchers. In 2030, TranStar Corporation took over the infested space station, reestablishing it as space colony Talos-1. The corporation was attempting to harness the Typhon’s powers. After completing the research, they developed Neuromods, genetic-altering devices that allow humans to possess Typhon abilities.
The players assume the role of Morgan Yu, a stranded resident of Talos I. Players can decide Morgan’s gender. Morgan, after waking up and recovering from amnesia due to Neuromods-induced tests, found out that Talos I was overrun by the Typhons. Presumed as Talos I’s sole survivor, players have to utilize construction tools, futuristic weaponry and alien abilities. Players must defend themselves from threats while trying to escape the space colony and reveal TranStar Corporation’s true intentions.
The game is quite similar to the “Metroidvania” format where players freely explore the 1960s-inspired space colony like a dungeon. Players progress by completing quests, acquiring key items, and learning alien abilities.
British freelance video game journalist Jim “Jimquisition” Sterling provided an insight of Prey’s gameplay. He explained that skills can be upgraded and stats can be improved with Neuromods. Neuromodes are counted as the in-game’s currency for the upgrades. Skills are divided into three categories: security, engineering and scientist. Security is for combat proficiency, engineering is for tinkering advance machinery and scientist is for accessing computers and creating health upgrades. Players can also scan their enemies and acquire new skills. Some of the abilities include telepathy, telekinesis, hacking, shapeshifting and controlling machinery. Jimquisition commented that unlike Dishonored, Prey is lenient with various skill builds. This allows players to allocate stats of their choice without the others suffering.
Typhons range from blobs to shapeshifters, hacked machines and other monstrosities. Players can either rush forward and obliterate them or scan the perimeters for hidden Typhons. Other than fighting enemies, players have to craft items and solve puzzles in order to progress. The game’s recycler disassembles unwanted materials while the fabricator turns them into useful items like Neuromods.
Providing players with branching paths and multiple endings, players’ in-game decisions and interaction with non-playable characters (NPC) will bare consequences, possibly changing the fate of humanity.
The original Prey in 2006 focused on Domasi “Tommy” Tawodi’s adventure. He prevented The Sphere from totally consuming Earth with his military training and Cherokee spiritual abilities.
A planned sequel was in the works by Human Head Studios but it underwent development hell. This was due to Bethesda Softworks purchasing Prey’s intellectual property from 3D Realms in 2011. According to PC World, Arkane Studios’s Prey reboot was a spiritual successor of Looking Glass Studios’ System Shock. Both games have creative freedom and exploration. After the IP acquisition, Prey 2 was canceled in 2014 by Bethesda Softworks. In Gamespot’s report on August 8, 2016, Arkane Studios decided to create an original content while abandoning Prey 2’s assets. They still retained the game’s name and the theme of the main protagonist pursued by aliens.