Sunday, August 16, 2020

Mind Games - Prey (2017) - Part 3

Once more, we step into a mind game. And once more, my good friend Mathias is joining me for the adventure.

After a brief adventure in the G.U.T.S. of Talos 1, we explore the Arboretum, including "Jupiter's palace at the top of the heavens" and the greenhouse where the staff have more urgent things on their mind. Then, we explore the Crew Quarters to participate in a good tabletop role playing session while eating shockingly bad food from the station's kitchen staff.

We also manage to beat the game... -ish.

Thanks again to Sam Callahan for his work on the thumbnails for the series.

The Crew Quarters is one of my favorite areas of the game, because of how much we learn about the people living in Talos 1 from all of the environmental details strewn about. Because of the nature of our main story quest, obtaining voice samples of Danielle Sho, most of it will focus on her and her relationship with Abigail Foy. And that's a really touching and powerful relationship.

What I want to focus on though, is what these details reveal about Morgan and Alex Yu, since we learn a lot about who they are and how other people on the space station relate to them. Between the two of them, Morgan appears to have been more popular among the Talos 1 crew than their brother, and for good reason. 

As we talked about in the show, both of them, as the ones in charge of the space station, have the ability to pull rank and ignore certain rules and regulations as they see fit. However, they do it in different ways. Alex appears to really only pull rank in ways that obviously benefit him and him alone. While the rest of Talos 1, Morgan included, has to participate in regular physicals to stay in shape, Alex regular uses his status to avoid taking part in those exercises, presumably out of embarrassment. Additionally, he breaks the chain of command to give orders that he's not in a position to give, like spying on potential whistleblowers and thieves. This extends to the regular psychological evaluations, which get reported back to him as well.

Meanwhile, Morgan used their rank to make life on Talos 1 easily, building custom operators like Skillet (RIP in peace) to help out the head chef despite regulations forbidding the use of custom operators. And they're also willing to overlook Mikhaila Ilyushin's paraplexis despite the fact that it disqualifies her from working on Talos 1.

You could argue, especially in light on what we learn of Morgan later on, that these are selfish decisions that they is making for the sake of convenience, since they make life on the space station easier overall. However, it demonstrates that they have the emotional intelligence necessary to value the crew's morale and mental health. Aside from that, it appears Morgan stays fairly detached, observing how each member of the crew feel about both them and Alex respectively, while analyzing how useful they are around the station and what they can do in order to maintain their usefulness in the long haul.

And as this Paste article notes, Morgan's room does a good job of acknowledging their Asian heritage, without making it a significant focus. In fact, both of their rooms are really strong cases of visual storytelling. Observant viewers would note that Morgan's private room is almost a one-to-one recreation of their apartment from the opening of the game. (Remember, although it was a simulation, it had to be an accurate enough facsimile that Morgan couldn't tell the different.) It  is a fully equipped workspace with a computer, workbench, and tools. But there's also a bookshelf with a mix of practical and recreational reading, and a TV/game console combo. Alex also gets in on the environmental storytelling with a treadmill that's covered in boxes and a globe that hides a key-card to his private escape pod underneath.

A pod that we can use to escap-*white noise*

A pod that might come in handy later. It would be cowardly to run away, after all.

Before a sign off, I want to give a shout out to NoClip, who are currently running a documentary series on Arkane Studios. In particular, they did an amazing episode chronicling the incredible opening to this game and how it came about. It's absolutely worth your time.

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