Every new innovation owes its predecessor credit for serving as the foundation for inspiration. Two gaming franchises that have captivated gamers in recent years owe their success to predecessors that were ahead of their time. The critically acclaimed Bioshock series is the spiritual successor to System Shock, a first-person action RPG that lends its stealth gameplay and RPG elements to Bioshock. The Dishonored series owes its stealth gameplay and to the Thief franchise and also System Shock. Both of these franchises, which began the last generation, took inspiration from established franchises and made innovations that made them feel like new. Arkane Studios, developers of the Dishonored series and collaborators on Bioshock 2, are attempting to innovate on the genre again with their new game, Prey.
When I first saw the trailer for Prey at E3 last year, the first thing I noticed was how gorgeous the game looked. Gone are the numerous shades of gray that tint the streets of Dunwall in Dishonored and income a livelier color palette.
Now if you are familiar with the Prey franchise, then you don’t this game. This is a reboot of the franchise and it has taken on a completely new vision. Now a little backstory on what the game is about. Players assume the role of Morgan Yu who is a human trapped on a space station that is infested with alien creatures called Typhon. If you have played System Shock, then this will be a little familiar to you.
The game is set in an alternate reality where President Kennedy survived his assassin attempt and, as a result, he puts more funding into the space program (man wouldn’t that be something!). Aliens, known as Typhon, notice the space activity that humans are doing and attack the Earth. After the “defeat” of the Typhon, Earth develops the space station Talos 1 to orbit the Moon and serve as a prison for the alien life.
After an incident between scientists and aliens on the space station, Talos 1 was left abandoned. A company named TransStar was formed years later and took over the space station. Of course, we wouldn’t just have the Typhon in a space prison without studying them and over time, we learn to harness their abilities and use them to our benefit. TransStar was able to unlock the mysteries of the Typhon and use it to make Neuromods, a substance that alters brain chemistry to allow people to achieve great things. With a product like Neuromods, it stands to reason that back on Earth it is all the rage and has made TransStar a powerful entity.
With the intriguing world that Arkane Studios has crafted, the game with have to include equally intriguing gameplay Luckily, it seems to have just that.
The gameplay mechanics definitely show elements of Bioshock, Dishonored (which makes sense), and Deus Ex. The Neuromods, the most exciting aspect of the game so far, are very similar to plasmids in Bioshock. Using a cringe-worthy technique, Morgan has to inject the Neuromod in his eye. Disgusting. But based off what he can do afterward, I guess it’s worth it. The full breath of what abilities the Neuromods will grant is unclear right now but I’m sure they are going to be inventive. They have already shown off an ability where you can transform into or “mimic” common items to hide from enemies or to get into hard to reach places.
Environmental storytelling seems to be rampant throughout the game, similar to Deus Ex and Dishonored, by way of hacking into terminals and reading things along the way. The freedom to choose how to tackle obstacles is also an element that Prey borrows from Dishonored along with making the player responsible for their actions through changes in the narrative.
Prey separates itself from its contemporaries in a number of ways. Namely in the very interesting Typhon. The Typhon are “shadow-like” creatures that take on a variety of forms.
The Cystoids are the smallest and most simple-minded form. Usually existing in Cystoid Nests, they explode their bodies to cause harm to anything that catches their attention.
Mimics are the first Typhon creatures encountered by humans. They can assume the form of any object on command
The most common creature that players will encounter is the Phantom. Phantoms are crew members infected by the Typhon energy and they come in 3 makeups: Thermal can ignite environments;
Etheric, can make copies of itself and releases toxic gas;
and Voltaic, can discharge electricity.
Poltergeists haunt the space station with the ability to turn invisible. They are very unpredictable creatures and will prove a handful for players.
Telepaths have the ability to possess human minds and making them do their bidding. If that fails, they can also produce powerful psychic blasts.
The Nightmare is a beast that torments the player throughout the game. The amount of Neuromods a player uses is directly connected to the Nightmare’s hunting of the player. It is an enemy that, if players want to survive, must pull out all the stops.
A number of media outlets have released new gameplay footage of the game and it is still looking very promising.
What are your impressions of Prey? Are you excited for the game? Let me know in the comments.