Those facehuggers from the Alien films - pretty scary, right?
Now imagine that when they're not only trying to jam tentacles down your throat, but they're camouflaged as the innocuous-looking office chair you're sat on, too.
Or the simple coffee cup you're drinking out of. Or literally any other object in the room.
That's what makes Prey's mimics, vicious aliens that look like oozing black starfish, so terrifying. They could be anywhere around you, just waiting to pounce.
Not something you want to run into on a good day, then - and it's not as if protagonist Morgan Yu was having a particularly good day to begin with.
SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE…
OK, so maybe sticking untested medical experiments directly into your eyeballs on a daily basis isn’t so bad, when it comes with a penthouse apartment overlooking a near-future San Francisco.
Or rather it wouldn’t be, if any of it were real. You aren’t really on earth, though, and those experiments just went very, very wrong. Ten minutes in, and the proverbial has well and truly hit the fan.
You're actually trapped on Talos One, an ageing space station controlled by military contractors with questionable ethics. Oh, and it’s overrun with shape-shifting aliens that are keen to get intimate with your esophagus, too.
In stepping away from the multiple levels of Dishonored’s Dunwall, in favour of a sprawling, singular expanse, developer Arkane Studios has crafted a world that simply oozes atmosphere.
Talos One isn’t as devoid of life System Shock's Citadel Station, either. Instead of creeping through corridors alone, you’ll encounter plenty of survivors - some with their own agendas, and others just looking to make it back to earth alive.
Most will have a side-quest or two to send your way, either leading you to better gear or expanding on the backstory. There’s a decent amount of gameplay variety, but it’s the promise of more exposition that’ll leave you wanting to complete then all.
This back-and-forth gives the impression that you’re exploring a wide-open sandbox, but Prey is actually fairly linear: you might be able to leave the station for an impromptu spacewalk, but Talos One’s airlocks have to be opened from the inside before you can use them to shortcut your way between areas.
A NEUROMOD A DAY KEEPS THE TYPHON AWAY
Talos One is undeniably colossal, though, and you’re mostly free to explore it as you like, with a whole host of tools and abilities available from the off.
Those shady science experiments come in handy when they let you morph into a pencil pot that’s small enough to roll through locked doors, or lift things three times your own body weight to clear a path.
Corvo Attano might have had plenty of mystic powers to choose from, but Morgan's abilities are grounded in science. As long as you're happy sticking a giant needle into your skull to unlock them, anyway.
You’re limited to more scientific abilities at the outset, but scan enough Typhon and you’ll gain access alien powers as well. Still, being able to hack turrets and the workstations of your colleagues, or the know-how to dismantle the junk and detritus you pick up and turn it into something useful, has its uses.
Prey is packed full of things to pick up, fiddle with and collect. It's what makes the Mimics so scary, but it's also a goldmine for anyone that can turn a few frayed wires and circuit boards into a weaponised glue gun.