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First Impressions of Prey (2016)

Remember the saying, “As you call a ship, so it will sail”? For some reason, the name “Prey” for the game is the same curse as “Trouble” for a passenger ship. The first part of Prey turned out to be an incredibly creepy long-term construction, which began to be developed in the mid-90s, and was finally released with a sin in half in 2006, after a series of changes of developers and even more concepts. Then the second part was announced, but it also suffered the same fate: no sooner had the players rejoiced about the interstellar bounty hunter, as the project was suddenly closed.

Deep in everyone’s soul now, everyone is gnawed by a worm of doubt, similar to what was during the press screening of No Man’s Sky. What’s being said about the new Prey right now is definitely interesting. You can turn into any small objects. You can wander anywhere in the open world of the space station and explore all its corners. Tasks can be solved in any way, even those that the developers themselves could not think of. Yes, it’s not exactly a game in which quintillion planets are procedurally generated, but the question arises about the same: how to play this?

But a few months ago at E3 2016, the developers announced that the series is waiting for a complete and total restart. And engaged in the development of a new part of the studio Arkane, known for the series Dishonored, the game Arx Fatalis and the game Dark Messiah of Might & Magic. And in general, now it will not be just a shooter, but a sci-fi action about experiments on a person and loneliness in outer space.

Briefly with Prey we were introduced at “QuakeCom 2016” where it became known that the game will talk about the space station captured by aliens called “Talos-1”. There won’t be too many shootings. However, this does not mean that they will not be there at all – no. It’s just that the emphasis in the new Prey is on exploring the world, objects (including weapons) and a variety of skills. And most importantly – the new game to the last part of Prey, where it was about Indians and portals, has absolutely nothing to do with it.


There is always a way out


In order to get somewhere, it is not enough to fly to the desired hatch and get inside. After all, most likely, this hatch will be firmly locked. And maybe even completely littered with trash. Or even broken, so you will have to find another way – a workaround. For example, through the ventilation systems of the station.

In addition, each situation that you will regularly encounter during the passage can be solved in different ways. The blockage, for example, can be “disassembled” with the help of explosions, with bare hands or even blown to the side, pre-find the switch of air flows nearby.

→ It will be possible to move freely outside the station – in conditions of zero gravity. It is said that thanks to this, the passage can be completely different and not like the rest.

From closed doors you can find the code, or they can simply be hacked (if the appropriate skill is pumped). Well, or really use the ventilation shafts to get around the obstacle. And if the path is blocked by fans, then they can be broken with weapons or stopped by an impressive and effective glue gun, which at the moment positions itself as one of the main “highlights” of the game. That’s why it’s now along with the gravity gun from Half-Life 2.

Or the last option is to turn into something small and hard enough to quickly fly between the blades. You can also, in this way, jam the garbage that you previously got rid of in order to open the neighboring doors and move on.

→ This is a winter garden under the dome. The station rotates in real time, so it makes sense to observe how the celestial bodies move outside.

Actually, a huge share of mysteries in the new Prey is built strictly on the intuitive use of the opportunities that are at your disposal. However, these are not puzzles in the classical sense of the word, where there is usually one correct solution. It is better to say that the puzzles in Prey and their solution are some kind of life collisions, which are well known, on space stations attacked by aliens. Therefore, if you previously wondered why you can not make a pile of trash on the spot and get to the third floor immediately, instead of looking for a workaround, then this game will definitely please you, because the main game designer Prey has already thought about it.

→ There are survivors at the station, but their number can be reduced. Without any conversation, you can open fire on living and normal people. Of course, such actions affect the ending, but this will definitely not lead to a plot dead end.

As a demonstration, the developers demonstrated a non-working elevator shaft – quite a standard detail (episode) of any computer game. Only this time this episode can be replayed in different ways. For example, you can classically try to repair this elevator, first find a generator for supplying electricity and other necessary spare parts. And you can use your imagination and build a ladder with your glue gun, thereby saving yourself from a huge part of the “headache”, which consists in finding important details. However, in the future, you will have to create such a staircase again and again, so perhaps it may be really better to repair the elevator.

But in general, everything is strictly at your personal discretion. You can travel around the station at least on the ceiling and walls (if, of course, you find a way). Because now we have the game in which the developers encourage any actions of the players.


The wealth of the station “Talos-1”


By the way, the above level with the elevator is called “Arboretum” and it is a huge ghostly dome, which is located at the very top of the space station. In addition, it was in this location that I managed to observe how the station rotates along the vertical axis, and the Moon and our native blue planet majestically “float” past the portholes. In addition, in the same place there is a hydroponic garden with fruit trees. So do not create an imaginary opinion, they say “Talos-1” the authors limited only to one cabin and corridors that connect them. It’s quite interesting everywhere.

→ Prey will definitely teach you to look around. For example, if at a certain point you forget to look up, then you will inadvertently stumble upon a bunch of troubles. In this case, it is better to inject a shot charge into this cocoon without any thought.

In general, the authors quite responsibly approached the design. However, on the other hand, this is not even surprising, because in the studio “Arkane” – this was always taken as a basis. The new Prey is used as the basis of Art Deco, but the developers went further and slightly modified it to fit the era of space conquest. The result was a style they nicknamed “neo-deco.” What exactly this style is can be seen already in the illustrations – a rather curious mixture of antiquity, typical futuristics and electronics of the times of “BESMs” from the 60s. Another very interesting fact: the interior of a real hotel called “Viceroy” was also taken as a sample. So if you are brought to New York, or Abu Dhabi, then you can find quite familiar game elements.

But that’s not all. The creators moved on and decided that it was necessary to show that the station was not built immediately, so the locations look different. Let’s remember Portal 2, where during the passage the main character got into the old buildings of “Aperture Science”. What kind of thrill did that cause? So, in the new Prey, the situation is about the same.

→ Undoubtedly, the most interesting weapon at the moment is the glue gun. This weapon shoots a fairly strong mounting foam, so with it you can immobilize the enemy and erect a variety of useful structures.

As you pass and descend to the lower tiers, you can see how the local architecture changes. And even to the point that you will even stumble upon an old psychotronic laboratory, where it will be full of inscriptions in Russian language. And this is not surprising, because according to the background of the new game, the station was built in close cooperation between the United States and the USSR.

It is in our universe and reality that they looked at each other with gloomy glances from under the Iron Curtain on the terms of the Cold War. And in the new prey game universe, Kennedy, for example, managed to survive after a high-profile assassination attempt, so the story began to develop in the future quite differently.


A familiar voice…


The third location was the “Staff Cabins” and this location just the closest showed what exactly we should imagine with the word “space station”. Huge and long corridors. On the left and right sides there are living quarters. Table. Puff. Bathroom. Even gyms. In addition, each door is signed, and most of the doors are locked.

But, if you carefully inspect all the corpses, then, for example, you will find that nameless people in the game simply do not exist and you have probably already met these names, inspecting the cabins with inscriptions. In addition, in the pockets you can often find voice recordings and keys that allow you to open a certain cabin and carefully search it.

→ Traveling through the G.U.T.S. system requires a stable vestibular apparatus. In addition, there are small monsters – cystoids – they react to movement, fly up and explode. It is best to distract them with all sorts of rubbish.

And in addition to valuable loot by type of resources or weapons, it will be possible to more carefully study the game world. See how people lived or still live, a little deeper into the charms of the atmosphere of the new rethought game. Finally, I note that most of the locks can be hacked – this is one of the very useful skills, as usual.

By the way, at the same level, the developers revealed a small secret and demonstrated one of the story puzzles: to open the doors, you need to say a code phrase out loud, and it is with the voice that was entered into the system. The only problem is that the owner of the voice has long been dead. At this stage, it may seem that there is no way out, but it is there – you need to wander around the location and collect audio recordings, and then synthesize the necessary words on their basis.

→ Trouble that can be overcome easily with a glue gun: close the holes and calmly pass. By the way, if you shoot a gas pipe, then you can create a fountain of fire.

After that, total nonlinearity begins again. You don’t have to look for a specific record. And it is not necessary to find all the records. You just need to get a few minutes of speech for a sample, and these recordings can be found anywhere: personal diaries, answering machine records, voice announcements and much more. Where you will go, where you will look for audio recordings, what you will look for is purely your personal matter.


Facial expressions


Of course, it will not be possible to travel freely around the station not only because of locked doors, debris and other things. In the course of the passage, you will have to face monsters more than once. With facial expressions, for example – small arachnid creatures that can take the form and form of other things / objects – we were introduced to these dangerous creatures at the very first show. We have yet to face the phantoms – former people who have turned into monsters for an unknown reason. However, at the last presentation, the authors said that phantoms will be divided into several types.

But let’s move on, because the authors presented another monster – the “poltergeist”. This creature is able to become invisible and throw objects around. In fact, this is just a kind of fluctuation in the air and a simple flicker, so get ready for the fact that you will have to watch in both and carefully listen to the environment.

→ Large-scale shootings in Prey can not be expected. First, there won’t be many weapons on the space station. Secondly, problems often require players to use ingenuity and cunning.

The next monster is a kind of controller. He is unsophisticatedly called a telepath, and he knows how to turn ordinary people into zombies. However, the process of this “zombification” is reversible, because after the death of this monster, all controlled people simply fall unconscious. Which, by the way, once again puts the player in front of a choice – to kill or try to save the captured inhabitants of the station, thereby destroying only one monster. As with the Dishonored series, the ending will depend heavily on your degree of “bloodiness.”

In addition, the telepath is able to temporarily deprive the hero of psi abilities. In addition to the three main pumping branches, which include science, engineering and security, there will be three alien branches: energy, telepathy and morphing. However, in order to study these branches, not only do you need to invest a local analogue of praxis, but also to peep the skill of aliens.

→ Don’t think you have trouble focusing – it’s just that phantoms are blurred when you move. The picture looks spectacular and creepy, you see.

In this case, a scanner nicknamed a psychoscope will help you. With the help of this device, enemies can be found even if you are separated by walls, and if you are lucky, then the monster can also be studied – that is, extract useful information from it. But that’s not all. In addition to the fact that the scanner will tell you what the monster is called, there will be a lot of other equally useful information along with the data. In general, you will have to study enemies to the extent that the skills are not fully learned and improved. In facial expressions, for example, it will be possible to “peep” the ability to transform. Phantoms have pyrokinesis, telekinesis. In telepaths, it is to control consciousness at a distance.

However, the most interesting thing in this pumping is that each skill learned will bring the hero (or heroine) closer to a dangerous line, crossing which, you will no longer be considered a person and will be mistaken for a stranger. But this applies not only to the few surviving inhabitants of the station, but also to the security systems that will be programmed for shooting “foreign bodies”, so before you delve into the pumping, think carefully, do you need it?


Cosmonaut’s Combat Arsenal


As for “human” skills, they can be studied without any fear: hacking will make it possible to penetrate where you need to go; repair (repair) – will allow you to restore weapons (and in the game it will break quickly enough) and personal diaries (only the master will be able to pull information out of a broken tablet), and other devices.

→ The Wrench is the surest friend when attacked by alien beings on the space station.

The study of sciences will make it possible to dissect aliens, thereby extracting resources from them and creating more serious and complex mechanisms. But always remember that behind the psi-forces is hidden a completely different gameplay, so it will be quite difficult to resist.

All sorts of fireballs and kinetic bombs are used in a completely different way than conventional weapons. After activating a unique skill, the game immediately freezes and pauses, thereby giving the opportunity to think about the use of the skill. However, if you move, then the pause will be removed. So if you freeze, the rest of the world will freeze. However, you do not even need to guess where the authors borrowed this idea from – from the recently released game Superhot. It is also worth noting that many psi skills have a fairly peaceful application, for example, a psi-push can be used in order to climb to a great height.

Помимо всего вышеперечисленного, в новом Prey ещё есть элементы «выживастика»: главный герой может получить травму, получить облучение радиацией, отправиться и даже проголодаться. Смерть без еды за вами не придёт, однако чтобы здоровье регенерировало, необходимо быть сытым.

A separate indicator will also show the state of the spacesuit, which can also be damaged and left without any important functionality, for example, without a jetpack. The latter, however, will make it possible to fly only in weightlessness, and in places where there is gravity – except to plan from a great height without any risk of breaking your legs. The spacesuit can also be improved, increasing the supply of armor, jet fuel or oxygen.


A new direction


The developers claim that since they released Arx Fatalis in 2002, they have continued to release the same Arx Fatalis, but only with different names and settings. Therefore, somewhere the emphasis is on action, as it was once in Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, and somewhere on stealth, as in the Dishonored series. The new Prey focuses on puzzles and exploration.

Now only really strange shooting feels, but the game is clearly not about shooting. A skirmish with another monster is not some kind of test for accuracy or reaction, but a test for cunning and the ability to use their capabilities. Will the mimicry be able, for example, to deceive the player’s attention and attack from the rear under the guise of a suitcase? Will phantoms be able to recognize a player in a mug rolling on the floor when all you have to do is pull the lever at the other end of the room? Then you don’t have to fight at all.

→ Meet the telepath.

But you can’t do without shooting at all, because some enemies will play the role of “Bosses”, so they have to be destroyed in order to go further. Of course, a calculating player will certainly be able to reduce all these fights to a couple of shots at point-blank range with the help of psi skills. However, whether there are other weapons in the game, except for the Taser, pistol, shotgun and adjustable wrench is still unknown.


The Bottom Line


Let me go back to the concerns that existed before the release of No Man’s Sky. I want to note that the authors create a rather complex game system, so it is not yet really clear how this will work in practice. A huge number of opportunities are promised, so the main thing is that everyone can take advantage of it. And won’t it all come down to repeating the same actions? For example, to repeat the most effective action.

However, it is difficult to doubt Arkane Studios, because they have a considerable credit of trust behind them. At least, there is no need to doubt an interesting story. Especially given that the game hints at something grandiose, some kind of unheard of experiment designed to change humanity and that in the course of this experiment something went wrong. Well, we’ll see soon.

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