A few months ago, we had the chance to play through the first hour of Prey (2017). The game takes place on Talos I, a massive space station dedicated to containing and studying the Typhon, a mysterious and dangerous alien race. We assumed the role of Morgan Yu, a cadet training to join TranStar, the corporation that owns Talos I. Soon after the introduction, we realized that things aren’t what they seem to be.
With Prey's release date rapidly approaching, we were given the opportunity to play as Morgan Yu once again, but this time, we started roughly three hours into the game, on a level of the Talos I known as Psychotronics.
A Rough Start
As we made our way through the first corridor, we were unpleasantly greeted by an electric junction, one of the many environmental hazards scattered throughout the station. The GLOO Cannon temporarily disables the junction just long enough for us to escape. During our walk to the security room, we were warned by both our brother, Alex Yu, and January, a mysterious guide who helped us during the introduction, that Psychotronics is a dangerous place. Meanwhile, the two seem to be in disagreement about how we should be navigating the ship.
We proceeded cautiously, because Mimics could be hiding around any corner. Sure enough, we encounter more than a few Mimics, and even several Phantoms. The problem is that these monsters are tall, menacing, and deal a lot of damage. We quickly ran out of ammo for our silenced pistol, so we did everything we could to avoid the Phantoms.
After wading through a few Mimics, we found the Psychoscope off of a dead crew member. This item’s main feature allows you to scan environmental factors such as enemies, automated machines, and other humans. Additionally, you can install Scope Chipsets which give the Psychoscope additional functions. For example, we found a chipset which allowed us to detect hidden Mimics. Once we had scanned a few Phantoms, we found that GLOO was one of their weaknesses, and suddenly they weren’t as big of a threat.
As we made our way through Psychotronics, we found useful weapons that can be used against the Typhon. For example, the Typhon Lure attracted nearby Typhon, which was useful for setting up ambushes or avoiding them altogether. We also found Nullwave Transmitters, which temporarily suppress the psionic abilities of any enemies caught in its radius.
Fearsome Enemies And Hard Decisions
Eventually, we reached an area holding a Weaver. When exposing a corpse to the Weaver’s line of sight, the Weaver will reanimate the corpse as a Phantom. This one in particular was a Voltaic Phantom which fired arcs of lightning, so it required a bit more ingenuity to defeat. A Nullwave Transmitter is the perfect weapon for this encounter.
Near the end of the level, we found a rather peculiar test subject. It was a human trapped in a glass containment cell, and he begged to be released. He claimed to have the code to the next door armory, which would be useful. But upon taking a closer look at his profile, we discovered that he’s a felon convicted of heinous crimes. There were also controls that allow you to drop Mimics into his cell. Do you spare him and strip the armory, or punish him and study the Mimics? This is just one of many moral questions you’ll be faced with in Prey.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore more than that. However, we got to speak briefly with Arkane’s co-creative director, Raphael Colantonio.
Tom’s Hardware: We were confined to the space station in the demo we just played, but can you tell me more about zero-gravity gameplay?
Raphael Colantonio: You play in zero-gravity when you outside of the station. There are some parts of the station called the “G.U.T.S.” where you’ll be playing in zero-G as well. When we think of the space station as a big, contiguous space. We call it “Open Station,” which really means open world gameplay on a space station. Sometimes, certain paths of the station will be blocked, so you can drift outside to get to the area of the station you need to be. Space is a lot less structured than the station; you’ll find debris everywhere. You might have to fight or hide from enemies. You might find a corpse or a derelict rocket floating around. It’s a lot like an uncharted forest.
TH: Mimics like to scutter around and find objects to copy, while Phantoms stalk around the station hunting you. Will they have different behaviors while in zero-gravity?
RC: Absolutely, but only some of the enemies will show up outside the station. For the ones that do, you can expect them to behave differently.
TH:The Typhon are very different from the types of extraterrestrial creatures we typically see in games and movies. What was the inspiration behind the Typhon? So far, we’ve seen Mimics. We’ve seen Phantoms. We saw a Weaver during this latest demo. What sort of inspiration did you take when brainstorming these monsters?
RC: From the get-go, it was more like a desire to create a race of aliens that was going to be different than classic aliens that have already been made so many times. We didn’t want to create another flesh-and-teeth monster, or a demon-style horror, or insectoid.
That’s why we went a monster that’s more ghost-like. More paranormal. More hard-to-grasp. It looks semi-material and psionic. They’re scary in a mysterious way; you don’t really know what they want or why they’re here. We came up with these pitch-black monsters, but from some angles they look blurry and translucent, so you don’t know if they’re even from our dimension.
It took a while to bring them to life, and we had to create an ecology for them so that each type of Typhon had a role. For example, the Mimic is a scout. It probes around, gathers food and multiplies. Once there’s enough of them, they’ll combine into a Weaver. The Weavers look around for corpses and turns them into Phantoms, and the Phantoms act as warriors. Once we figured out their roles, we figured out how they would look
TH: We understand that we won’t find out much about the Typhon and their motives until we delve into the game, but can you give us the backstory on our first contact with them, and how that might’ve jump-started their hostility?
RC: You’re right. The Typhon’s motives will be discovered later, and how you react to these revelations will determine the outcome of the story later on. But there’s actually a backstory about our first contact with them, and you’ll actually find details about this event in Psychotronics, the level you just played.
There’s a video of the first contact which happened in the '60s. You see a Russian astronaut repairing a satellite in first person, and a Mimic comes a kills him. A full group of people were sent to contain it, and the containment area is in Psychotronics. Eventually, the Russians started building areas around the containment facility. Later on, the space station was sold to the private corporation, TranStar, and TranStar started building on top of it into the Talos I you see today.
Prey will be available on May 5.