Prey is one of 2017’s most underrated games, and as an expansion that makes Mooncrash an even more niche prospect, a game that will be played by a small subset of a small subset. Which is a shame, because strip away its “expansion” status and Mooncrash is one of the best, most innovative games of 2018. It’s Arkane’s masterpiece, a true testament to what a talented team can do with systems-first design.

Every Prey fan should play it. And those who haven’t yet become Prey fans? You should be.

Deus ex machina

Here’s the conceit: It’s Prey as a roguelike. You play as a KASMA Corp. technician, floating in orbit around the moon. Down on the lunar surface there’s been a disaster. The Pytheas Moonbase has gone dark, all occupants presumed dead.

Prey: Mooncrash IDG / Hayden Dingman

Through some magical black box tech called the Datavault though, you can take over five survivors and play out their last moments in a simulation. Pretty huge suspension of disbelief, I know, albeit less if you finished Prey proper. (Did I mention? You should.)

Anyway, Mooncrash starts small. You’re given control of a single survivor, “The Volunteer,” or Andrius Alekna, an experiment test subject with an affinity for the Typhon aliens and their psychic powers. This first run is also limited to a small subsection of the Pytheas Moonbase, and a fairly linear one at that.

And it plays like Prey. Everything that made Prey a great System Shock throwback—multiple solutions to every problem, encouraging creativity on the player’s part, and the oppressive atmosphere of a space station in distress—that’s all here again. Exploring Pytheas is a delight, the familiar mix of art deco and industrial designs that made the main game’s Talos I space station so fascinating.

Prey: Mooncrash IDG / Hayden Dingman

You’re directed to try and find one of the remaining escape pods. Along the way you’ll collect familiar weapons (pistol, shotgun), read scattered notes detailing the base’s final days, and come under attack by Mimics pretending to be rocks and other debris.

The challenge ramps up slightly as you go, and there’s a good chance you won’t survive this first run. The biggest hurdle? Not blowing yourself up, probably. Careful—those red barrels have a longer range than you think sometimes.

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