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Game Review

Alternate realities can be entertaining. Just a slight twist to a historical event can swing open a hypothetical gateway to an alternate future packed with potential marvels or unexpected disasters. What would've happened, for instance, if Hitler had become a successful painter as a young man or Albert Einstein had given up on math after being expelled from high school?

In a similar way, the new Bethesda game Prey creates an alternate reality with a number of compelling twists and turns to reveal. It takes place in an Art Deco-styled sci-fi future that became reality after President John F. Kennedy somehow survived the assassination attempt on his life outside the Texas School Book Depository. That lone historical tweak led to America redoubling its investment in space exploration, we learn. So by the time we get to 2032, a whole lot of things have changed.

Mankind has made contact with a dangerous, inky black alien race called the Typhon, for one thing. Though that encounter was more deadly than delightful, it has compelled humanity to examine the creatures' otherworldly shape-shifting abilities and to study their amoral psyches. That, in turn, drove scientists to develop technology known as Neuromods.

Needles in Your Eye, Holes in Your Head

With that eye-injected technology, any average Joe can learn to rewire a supercomputer in seconds or pick up a couple new languages during a coffee break.

Of course, there are a few drawbacks to those ability booster shots (besides having to stick a wicked-looking needle in your eye). For one thing, if you upgrade yourself with too many new skills—especially those based on Typhon abilities—security turrets will have a hard time recognizing you as human and might start blazing away in your direction. Second, if you have any of those Neuromods removed, your memory is wiped clean, too.

And that's pretty much where things start here. As Dr. Morgan Yu, you crawl out of bed, hit the snooze button, and suddenly realize that the vast, opulent space station you're on is in crisis lockdown. Some kind of alien disaster has taken place that Yu can't quite remember. But bit by bit, this heroic doc starts piecing together computer records, hidden files and outside communications to discover that he (or she, depending on your preference) has been at the center of some bizarre experiments that have been taking place onboard.

Dr. Yu is also the only person who can set things right and save any remnants of humanity still alive on the ship. Yu's armed at first with only a wrench and a determined red-eyed glint. He has to take out the many lethal Typhons he encounters—each type ready to suck a human's essence out through a forcibly drilled hole in the victim's skull.

Choices and Tweaks

Prey offers players lots of moral questions to ruminate upon and choices to make as they move forward. Each of those decisions adjusts the way the game will play out and helps determine the ending as well. Will you opt for super-duper shapeshifting powers and risk losing your humanity? Will you go the extra mile and use precious time to save the innocents trapped or dying? Will you befriend or betray?

Players' decisions influence just how messy and potentially dark this game gets. You can use various weapons, from deadly kinetic blasts to laser canons, pistols and shotguns, just on the goopy aliens and hovering robots. Or you can also splatter the blood of friends, family and allies, if for some perverse reason you chose to do so.

Even if you try to keep it clean, though, the aliens don't hesitate to drive their spider-like limbs into humans, leaving those unfortunate victims in a pool of black gore. And though the language isn't as nasty as some M-rated games, you're still going to encounter uses of the s-word and exclamations of "h---," "d--n" and "a--." I also heard God's name misused at least once in combination with "d--n."

By the time you reach one of the game's several different endings, then, it's clear that Prey is indeed all about the tweaks. There are the historical tweak that sets the tale in motion. The game-choice tweaks that determine how things resolve. The moral tweaks that shape your character.

And, of course, all the game-production tweaks left unmade—you know, those tiny content changes that could have kept this otherwise compelling sci-fi actioner from crossing the M-rated line.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

M

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

Publisher

Bethesda Softworks

Released

May 5, 2017

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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