Prey’s new “alternate game mode” Mooncrash is something of an anomaly. You have to launch Prey to launch Mooncrash, which then closes Prey to open the mystery first-person roguelike. It’s clear to this writer than Mooncrash is very much its own thing, but you must own Prey to buy Mooncrash. As a DLC, it’s $20 on Steam right now and you can buy the digital deluxe of Prey with Mooncrash for $40. So if you’ve yet played one of last year’s overwhelmingly awesome single player experiences, this is a buy. Mooncrash is what Triple-A roguelike should be – it stands head and shoulders above most other games in the genre.
Mooncrash is sort of like Inception. It’s a game where you play a person trapped on a space station playing through a simulation for your corporation as many times as it takes until you find out what happened in a catastrophic event on the lunar base. It’s a game within a game, within the original game of Prey. Each time you successfully progress the main story, you’ll uncover more of what happened to the people on the moon, how it’s connected to the story of Prey, and why you’re stuck there away from your family until you get it figured out. It’s a great mystery, with some awesome VO, but somehow feels less developed than the Prey story. I suppose that’s because it’s a roguelike first, narrative second sort of game. Still, there are plenty of story details to be picked up in the minutia.
Mooncrash is a smaller more claustrophobic world than its forebear, but that works in its favor. As a roguelike game, the size of the map is ideal as you’ll be making your way across it more than a few times (hint – you will die a lot). But the way the world changes as you progress, and the options you have to solve its puzzles become ever more apparent the more you play. In a lot of ways, Mooncrash feels like a total refinement of Prey’s original game, with the status effects of things like concussions making survival in this world feel all the more pressing. It’s an action, horror, mystery, roguelike, Metroidvania that works. And that’s almost a damned miracle.
The five characters, as you unlock them, each have their own stories, skills, and ways to help out the whole team’s leaving the moon base. So while your first run will be fairly straightforward, as you die and try again with more survivors, in any order you wish, you’ll realize there’s more than one way to skin a mimic. And while clearing out rooms of lesser mimics is helpful for future runs, there are some tough monsters, like a “Moonshark” that will not be beaten until you’ve made a bit of headway in the game. It’s this kind of “I can come back to that later” design that just evokes a total Metroid: Prime vibe and I love Mooncrash for this.
This DLC is no slouch. It’s going to take you a good 10 or more hours to complete the game, and truly it feels like Mooncrash could be sold as a separate package. I hope they do at some point, as Arkane is clearly showing just how good they are at breaking and refining the mold with their games. Mooncrash is a must play.