Prey's Final Act Is A Mess

If you are playing Prey, the new immersive sim from Arkane Studios, here is a recommendation: quit once you've reached Alex's office for the first time. Just stop playing. It gets way, way worse.

For its first three quarters, Prey is a fantastic game. Creepy, foreboding and darkly funny, the game rewards slow playthroughs and lets you peek into the lives of some fascinating characters. Then it all goes to shit.

Once you reach Alex's office, following a long, meandering journey through various sectors of the space station Talos-1, you discover a video message from your brother. He asks you to help him save the station. Then comes a new plot twist: a mercenary named Commander Dahl has just docked on Talos-1 and sent an army of security robots to wipe you out.

Immediately, you're accosted by four of these bots. They look just like the engineering, medical, and security robots you've previously encountered, except they shoot lasers and have way more health. They are, to put it gently, miserable fucks.

Like I said before, now would be a good time to stop playing.

For the next three to four hours, you zip around Talos-1, trying to dodge endless waves of these security bots (who won't stop spawning) in addition to hordes of Typhon aliens (who grew even more powerful while you were messing around in the Arboretum). Whereas before Prey let you explore slowly and meticulously, now the only way to survive is to run from goal to goal, gobbling medkits and trying not to get stomped.

If you turned off mission objectives before, now's the time to put them back on. You are no longer rewarded for taking your time.

It's at this point that Prey becomes an entirely different game, one that ditches cerebral satisfaction and just makes you run around like a terrified chicken with its head cut off.

Unless you've beefed up all of your Typhon powers -- at the risk of getting chased by those nasty Nightmares -- you'll have a hard time getting through this act of the game without just sprinting as quickly as possible. Even if you do decide to slow down and fight off the bots, you'll immediately find that there's nothing fun about them. They take too much damage, kill you too quickly, and are generally boring to battle.

And then there are the loading times. In order to track down Dahl and his lab chief, you'll need to weave through several areas of Talos-1, retracing your steps quite a few times as you figure out where they are and how to stop them. If you are playing on PS4, as I was, you'll spend the bulk of your time staring at loading screens.

I often like to break down games by their rhythms. Here is the rhythm of Prey's final act: run down hallway -> watch 30-second loading screen -> run down hallway -> get caught by security bot and die -> watch 30-second loading screen -> run down hallway -> watch 30-second loading screen -> get caught by security bot and die -> watch 30-second loading screen.

There is nothing fun, satisfying, or rewarding about this. You might choose to take a breather from the main story and go do some side-quests, like getting a painting for a doctor or rescuing some crew members under siege, but this will only extend the misery. And, as you'll soon find out, none of it means a thing.

Because then comes the epilogue. The goddamn epilogue. Once the credits have ended, you discover that the entire game was actually a simulation (which means the intro was a simulation within a simulation) and that you are in fact a Typhon who has been injected with Morgan's memories.

If you chose to be a jerk and murder humans, Alex will kill you. If you chose to show empathy to the people on Talos-1, Alex will let you live.

This is, of course, bullshit. It's a cop-out ending that renders all of your actions meaningless and makes it clear that nothing really mattered. All of those hints about the robot January's true nature? That recording you find about Morgan's previous robots (October, etc.)? The questions surrounding Alex's real motives? All of it meant nothing, because it was a dream the whole time.

Prey is way better if you pretend that it ends three-quarters of the way through. So just do that.


Comments

    How to stop them spawning: disable (not destroy) them. Problem solved. Spawner only triggers when a bot is destroyed.

      Alternatively, you can stop up the terminals that deploy them by using gloo gun. Take note, non-hostile operators might try to chip away the gloo, so you'll have to deal with that.

    I disagree with the article. The ending is fine. Just when you think it's safe it turns it on its head. Previously safe rooms become some of the most dangerous rooms. I had previously gotten into some very comfortable routines.

    The actual ending - I thought was great. It made me want to replay and see what I missed. It made the trophies (kill everyone, kill no one, be empathetic, do only alien powers, do only human powers) make a great deal more sense. It makes the little flashes you see throughout the game make a whole lot of sense. And as far as it not mattering. It does matter? Some version of the events did happen. They were Morgan's memories. And it being a simulation justifies multiple outcomes and paths and is pretty thematically consistent.

    I agree 100%
    Finished this game a few days ago, and wish i had stopped at alex's office. I dont know what they were thinking with ending the story like that, but i felt exactly the same as you: what a waste of time and effort it all turned out to be.
    And to the commenter above, watch the alternate endings on youtube- all your big decisions will change a few lines of dialogue at the end, they make no difference whatsoever. What a bummer of a game.

    The ONLY good "and then I woke up and it was all a dream" story is this one, told in various forms around the internet for at least a decade:

    "I was playing [popular sport] and I took a big hit, basically knocked cold. I think I even blacked out for a second. When I came to everyone was standing over me, all concerned. This girl I had a crush on helped me up and she came with me to sick bay. We talked all afternoon, and agreed to go on a date.

    Well, we dated for the rest of school, I asked her to [local equivalent of prom/formal] and that night we slept together for the first time. We went to college, and it was hard doing the relationship long term but we got through it.

    Then five years later I proposed, she said yes, and we were married it was amazing. We had our ups and downs but we worked through it and had two beautiful daughters. I loved those girls and I dedicated every waking moment to them.

    But one day, when my oldest daughter must have been nearly seven, I was walking through the living room and I saw a table lamp. And I thought... there is something wrong with that lamp. Something wrong with its dimensions, the way it... sits there.

    I sat on the couch to examine the lamp and my wife came by to say dinner was ready, but I just waved her off. I couldn't stop looking at the lamp. It was just so wrong. My daughters came in to say good night but I didn't even look around to kiss them. That lamp was sitting there in a way that just shouldn't be possible. I looked and looked. Disgusted, my wife went to bed.

    I spent the whole night staring at that lamp. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep. My wife went crazy, screaming at me. I vaguely knew my daughters were crying. I say there for a day, two days, my wife and daughters stopped coming in the room,

    I guess I was hungry, thirty, probably pissed myself, I didn't care. As I stared at the lamp I heard the front door crash shut and I realised, somewhere, that my family had left me. I was alone, but I couldn't look away. And that's when the light around the lamp started getting dimmer, and dimmer, and the lamp got brighter and brighter...

    ...and just when I couldn't stand the brightness anymore something seemed to go CLICK in my head and I realised I was laying on my back, on the sports field at school, with kids and coach crowded around me, asking if I was okay.

    I had been unconscious for less than three minutes."

    It's actually really good. And frankly if you have actually spent all that time exploring you should have had enough neuromods and weapon upgrades to take down the enemies as you go. Personally I died less in the last act than at any other time. Oh and you want to avoid a 30 second load time... use an SSD. My load time is around 5 - 10 seconds maximum.

      Yah but for most console players they won't have an SSD installed.

      I liked the game but I was a bit over it towards the end. I loved reliving my System Shock and Bioshock memories, but those games were superior.

      Definitely worth the $25 I paid for it though. Absolutely worth it. But I probably won't replay it. The ending was weak in my opinion.

    It wasn't that bad.

    I agree about the Dhal bots, and sort of agree about the ending. But I wouldn't say it's game-ruining. For me, the ending was only slightly underwhelming. But it was because I looked forward to talking to all the characters, and seeing the consequences of the choices I made during the play-through. This does happen, but in a really unsatisfying way - you just get a kind of tally, almost like looking at the stats page.

    I was playing it on Hard. While Dahl's bots were really annoying, and it took me a bit to figure out how best to deal with them (disable them with goo, then damage but not destroy them so that they don't respawn). My main complaint with these isn't that they're hard, but just that they're incredibly lame as enemies. It's literally no fun to fight them, and they come at a time when the game should be culminating. The game already borrows a ton from Half Life, so couldn't we at least get ninjas or commandos or something?

    The good news is that Dahl's intervention is more like a mission than the entirety of the last part of the game. The situation with his bots is more like a crisis that you have to deal with asap, and once you destroy his chief officer and disable him, the robots go away more or less. I did this ASAP, and thankfully didn't see many more bots after that.

    As for the ending, it was pretty lame, but it wasn't purely a "it was all a dream" thing. We can assume that the simulation actually did put you through what happened to Morgan Yu. Many games with many endings have the "correct" ending. It's technically true that what you did doesn't 'matter', but it also actually does tell the story of what happened on Talos I, and what Morgan Yu has done (or would have done). We can assume that he opted to activate the Nullwave device and preserve Talos I, which is the "right" ending for the game anyway. What you played through wasn't purely a simulation/dream - it was the story of Morgan and Talos I. You're just not Morgan.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now