Exclusivity is a funny thing. Sure, Groucho Marx famously said he’d never want to join any club that would have him as a member, but one glance around the gaming space in 2021 proves clubs are all the rage. Brand loyalty is part of the package when you shell out for a fancy new piece of hardware, and that’s doubly true for consoles. Consoles are ecosystems, lifestyles, environments beckoning you to be a part of their rarified airs. Exclusive games drive this, and there’s little doubt that Sony has been king of console exclusives the last few years.
It extends into the current generation of consoles, soon celebrating its one-year anniversary. The latest feather in Sony’s exclusive cap is Deathloop (also available on PC). For Xbox owners who were quick to dunk on Sony fans when Bethesda joined Microsoft, it’s bittersweet to see the last Sony-only Bethesda joint get showered with praise. Some say it’s a game of the year contender (not us, anymore) and represents a high point from the developers at Arkane Lyon.
If only there was something better than Deathloop on Xbox to take the sting away. Turns out, there is.
First released in 2017, Arkane’s Prey is currently available on Xbox Game Pass and offers the reality-bending thrills of Deathloop, but replaces the scholcky pulp vibe with deep, sci-fi terror. It’s got all the trappings that are making the GOTY case for Deathloop: a fantastic story, innovative mechanics, and an immersive environment that’s second to none. The line from Prey to Deathloop is a pretty obvious one for fans who’ve played both, but if you’ve played neither, taking a step backward to explore Arkane’s first foray into existential quagmires is well worth your time.
Prey follows scientist Morgan Yu as they unravel their own memories trapped aboard Talos 1, a 1950s era space station in an alternate reality version of Earth. Imagine if a space race, not an arms race, ended the conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Imagine they worked together after a hostile alien lifeform known as Typhon were discovered on the dark side of the moon.
Yu’s brother Alex is head of the station, and Morgan is a researcher/guinea pig there to assist in neuromod research. Neuromods are psychic implants developed from experiments on Typhon that grant the user a number of special powers (because video game), and Morgan was patient zero.
The side effect of this is that Morgan’s memories were wiped daily for years, which isn’t a problem if everything is under control. Prey kicks off on a day when things are very much not under control as the Typhon break loose and start obliterating everything in sight. Morgan must figure out both who they are and how to survive. Along the way scores of inky, shape-shifting Typhon lurk throughout the station ready to make Morgan’s first lucid day their last.
Part FPS, part space horror, part Memento, Prey delivers Arkane at its finest. Talos-1 is dripping with retro-futurism and cosmic terror, serving up zero gravity components and a deeply detailed environment full of found narrative and jump scares.
Deathloop trades gravitas for pop culture appeal, but Prey never stops taking itself seriously. It was also tragically overlooked by many and didn’t receive the audience or the accolades it deserved. In short, it’s a hidden gem and the best kind of find on Game Pass.
Prey is available now on Xbox Game Pass, and for sale on PlayStation and PC.