Now that we’ve entered March, Mass Effect Andromeda isn’t that far away and it’s become really obvious that Ruairidh and I are SUPER EXCITED. However, there is more to life than Mass Effect. (Don’t look at me like that.) Casting our eyes into the not so distant future, the next big game that has us excited, mostly me, is Prey from Arkane Studios; the makers of the excellent Dishonored and it’s sequel.
Prey is a different kettle of fish from Dishonored. With Dishonored, its’s a mixture of sneaky-sneaky assassinate, crossbows with sword-play and supernatural powers to either disappear completely or cause complete an utter chaos; sprinkled with death and horror. Where Dishonored was focused on a time similar to that of a pre WWI world, Prey takes us into the future. More specifically, into space.
From the footage of Prey so far, it appears that you play as the protagonist Morgan, either male or female the choice is yours. (YAY PLAYER CHOICE.) Morgan works on a space station called Talos I and everything is, in standard video-game logic, going wrong. The once glorious Talos I is now infested with black goo like aliens who are out to shove themselves down your throats. It’s a game of survival: To escape and blow up the space station and prevent this violent race of black space gloop from reaching earth. So far, so standard action game in space. So why does this game grip me and entice me? What makes this game so different from the generic space shooter that we usually deal with?
The answer lies with the studio: Arkane Studios. A studio that came out with it’s first triple A title in 2012 and managed to gain 50 game of the year awards. More creative freedom and sequels was a certainty. Dishonored created a huge world to get lost in with compelling lore to accompany it. You could easily spend hours learning about the importance of whale-oil, the Abbey of the everyman or the rat plague that threatened the city. On the other hand, you had the ever-looming Outsider: A Mephistopheles like character that focuses on causing chaos rather than listening to the cries of his followers. His motivation for giving you your powers is purely to see how well/awful it turns out, not because its right thing to do, but just because why not. The lore for Prey is being drip-fed to us every so often: You can watch videos from the studio dictating an alternate history of the space race between U.S. President Kennedy and USSR leader Khrushcev. Events lead to America discovering the new alien race and building a space station to accommodate the being. More will undoubtedly follow with the games release but if half of the back story is as good as Dishonored then we are in for a treat.
Aliens have been done to death in the video game world, so what makes the extra-terrestrials of Prey so alarming yet terrifying? The answer becomes apparent very early in the game: The smaller like infestations that look like the head crabs from Half-life II can easily turn themselves into anything. When I anything I mean anything, this can be a cup, bin or even a turret. Now on the surface this might a gimmick to set Arkane aside from Valve, but watching the walkthrough of the first ten minutes of the game makes you realise how fucking terrifying this can be. Picture this, Morgan is walking through the station on the lookout for friends and foes, wrench in hand ready to deal pain, the doors open to a deserted hall, debris and furniture strewn across the room: signs of struggle no doubt. On the alert, Morgan walks through cautiously, gripping the wrench even tighter. The player makes their way past a soft drinks dispenser…dead bodies… blood stained desks… and a chair OH MY GOD IT TURNED INTO AN ALIEN AND IT’S EATING MY FACE. The most common objects now come with a possibility to explode out and attack leading to many undesired bathroom trips for the player. This means that a lot of time will now be spent hitting cups with wrenches and shooting chairs with shotguns just on the off chance that it might be an alien creepy-crawly. Thanks to the power of super HD visuals from PC/PS4/XBONE the two same objects are totally indistinguishable, creating a new age of crap-yourself scary horror games.
I could go on for hours and hours, but I feel my job is just to scratch the itch for you. Scratch it enough that you can go to the internet and learn more about Prey. Watch the gameplay trailers, see how creepy it is and hopefully get invested enough in the idea of it that you might just pick it up. A game like Prey deserves your attention and time. Prey comes along in May which is more than enough time for you to become fully intrigued by a new space shooter from one of the most interesting developers out there yet. Until then?
There’s always Andromeda before Talos I.