Oh, squiders. We humans are an interesting bunch. We do interesting, unexpected things. And today, we’re going to look at interesting, unexpected things in relation to a video game called Prey.
Prey is made by Arkane Studios, which also does the Dishonored series. It’s a science fiction horror game which takes place in an alternate near-future. The setting is Talos I, a space station in orbit around the moon, so, you know, you’re trapped.
(I am not particularly great at video games unless they a) are motion-sensing or b) turn-based/adventure games, so mostly I watch my spouse play.)
(The beginning reminds me a lot of the original Half-Life, which I suspect was a major influence for this game. I mean, the first enemy you run into, an alien known as a Mimic, looks suspiciously like the first enemy you run into in Half Life, the headcrab. There’s other similarities but we shall not dwell on them here.)
(But here’s what a Mimic looks like.)
There are spoilers moving forward, so beware if you care about such things.
The main enemies in Prey are an alien race known as the Typhon. The story goes that some time during the initial space race era, we encountered the Typhon and built varying facilities in space to study them. There’s different kinds of Typhon of different strengths and abilities, but they all kind of look like blobs of black strings.
Like most games of this type, there’s a skill tree where you can unlock different skills to help you get through the game. Part of the way through the game you acquire a Psychoscope, which allows you scan Typhons to learn more about them. This also unlocks Typhon abilities in the skill tree.
But interestingly, it seems about half of the people who play the game never touch the Typhon abilities. Which is weird, right? These are cool powers. Mind control, shapeshifting, telekinesis, etc.
(We discovered this fact when my spouse took the mind control one–which also allows you to un-mind control people the Typhon have taken over–and received a trophy for it which was much rarer than it seemed like it should be.)
So I’ve been poking around, and people are really worried about the Typhon powers. On some level this is directly related to gameplay–Prey has multiple endings, and people are worried about getting a “bad” ending if they take the Typhon powers–but there is also an underlying…taboo about it, almost. As if taking on the alien powers is somehow immoral. Like if they give in to using those powers, no matter how helpful they might be toward the game objections, they’re losing some of their own humanity.
It’s very interesting. This is a science fiction game involving fake technology, fake aliens, fake people. It should be pure fantasy. Taking the Typhon powers has no bearing on your real life. So why have so many people avoided them?
Humanity, people. We are strange.
Played Prey, squiders? Games like it you would recommend for the spouse once he’s done? (Are you as upset about Danielle Sho and Abigail Foy as I am?)