Review: Prey – Mooncrash (PS4)

FPS
8

Great

So you thought you were done with the Typhon and the machinations of the Yu family? Think again. While we step out of the shoes of Morgan Yu and into someone else’s don’t think for a second that because Mooncrash is a standalone experience that it doesn’t connect into the mystery and horror of what happens in space just above Earth.

Mooncrash is, simply put, a AAA version of the many roguelike games you might have played.  You play as one character who hops into a simulation of the events that happened at the Phytheas Moonbase. In it you are trying to escape from the base, which is now infested with Typhon. But why is it infested? Well just like normal, TranStar was up to some serious experimentation on Typhon here, under the cover of the official reason for being here: Helium-3 processing. It is up to you to escape from the base, but also to uncover what is going on. There are five characters to unlock and play as, each with their own skills and objectives that will unlock story segments to let you get to the bottom of what is going on. At the same time, your handlers in your tiny observation satellite don’t seem to be telling you the full truth about the conditions of your employment and you work for KASMA, not TranStar. What is going on under the surface?

Prey for a good run

The simulation you are playing in has been corrupted, meaning quite a few things for how you play. The biggest role of corruption is creating a timer on how long your simulation lasts before it crashes. Besides creating a time limit (oh how I hate time limits) the corruption will make enemies tougher and sometimes add enemies to places that you have already cleared out. It can also mess with the power to parts of the moonbase, destroy staircases, electrify floors, cause flooding or fires or change which doors are unlocked. So while you will quickly come to grips with the layout of the base, enough changes each time to keep things fresh, forcing you to keep both eyes open. Soon you realise that don’t have anywhere near enough time to do everything you want to do, or an inconvenient enemy sends you to a quick death, forcing you to switch to another character or reset the simulation. Luckily everything you kill, every keycard, door code, replicator blueprint and fulfilling objectives gives you credits you can spend to give yourself a better chance in the next loadout, and installed neuromods are permanent. Unlocking a blueprint means you can start a game with that item in your loadout, which makes exploration count for a lot in the long run. Also don’t fret, some of the stories and special unlocks in the game are awfully intricate, requiring several characters to visit the same location to prep it for another. Buckle up, because things are going to take a while.

Prey for a good gun

While in Prey you got a weapon and upgraded it over time, the weapons in Mooncrash have durability that drops as you fire them, until they are eventually useless (unless you play as the one character that can repair things). Weapons have rarity when you find them, with each rarity adding five more upgrades to the weapon. Finding an elite gun means you can take on a bigger host of enemies but you want to keep your durability for a situation that really requires it. Like that Telepath V in the way of completing your final objective. Damn you Telepath V, I had enough time to finish with the scientist before you roasted me.

You are going to have to be prepared for this. You will need to know Pytheas in and out, have the right tools for the job, an idea of who goes where first and the like.

So the game becomes something rather tactical as you try to work out all the moving parts. Escaping the moon nets rewards and there is a large bonus for multiple escapes in a single simulation. So do you set yourself up for multiple easy escapes (relatively easy is the word), or do you explore for neuromods, fabricator plans or just to start unlocking the various secrets of the base?

Prey for patience

Like other roguelike games, you need to settle in for the long run and think of the smaller picture first. The game has several objectives from KASMA and you can’t go home until each one is complete. The hardest one, besides some of the story objectives, will be escaping with all five people in a single simulation. That is five escapes, zero deaths and the corruption counter ticking up quickly. You are going to have to be prepared for this. You will need to know Pytheas in and out, have the right tools for the job, an idea of who goes where first and the like. I have notes jotted down that look a bit like the board from FlashForward, with everything hyperconnected.

Thankfully you get a few new tricks as you play Mooncrash to help things along. A companion mimic doesn’t fight for you, but it can uncover mimics so that you don’t get ambushed. Or a companion robot to carry your extra weapons until you reach a recycler. But the cream of the crop is the Psychostatic cutter. This new weapon is a powerful melee weapon that drains stamina with every swing. It can also be charged up to fire off a bolt of energy, turning your Psi pool into ranged attacks. Melee weapons don’t suffer from durability loss, meaning you can chop enemies up and save your weapons for more important enemies. Also, it looks amazing. Who doesn’t want a psiblade to chop enemies into little bits or to shoot energy balls at cystoids?

Who doesn’t want a psiblade to chop enemies into little bits or to shoot energy balls at cystoids?

But before getting there, there is a mystery to be uncovered. Secrets to be discovered. Unlocking a story mission for a character requires them escaping in a certain way first and those story missions can get complicated too. Prepare yourself for making progress in small increments, or sometimes feeling like you made no progress at all, but the score you banked in this run means your next simulation will be able to afford better gear and a few neuromods too. It also gives you time to come to grips with every weapon, every ability and every trick in the book for dealing with Typhon. Because you are going to need to know the fastest, most efficient way to bypass or kill every enemy on the Moonbase before you are done. With a six month gap since I wandered the halls of Typhon I to Mooncrash, it took me a while to get my bearings and fingers back on the controls.

Good

  • A fresh take on things with new characters and extra limitations.
  • The psychostatic cutter.
  • More mystery.
  • Runs going perfectly terrible thanks to variables.

Bad

  • The long load times.
  • Feeling the pressure of time grinding you down.
  • Runs going perfectly terrible thanks to variables.

Summary

Mooncrash is the AAA roguelike you never knew you wanted. It takes several of the best things about Prey and breathes new life into them. It might not be more of the story of M.Yu, but there is still enough mystery to keep the horror themes alive as you try to crack the perfect run through the moon base.
8

Great

If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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