Prey 2017 Part 9: Kill the Cook

By Shamus Posted Thursday Sep 2, 2021

Filed under: Retrospectives 140 comments

At this point we run into a couple of new monster types. Actually, you may have run into these earlier, depending on how far you strayed off the obvious path provided by the main quest. But here is where you unavoidably encounter them, so let’s talk about them now…

Telepath

I know it's hard to get a sense of scale from here, but the telepath is bigger than a fridge, smaller than a car.
I know it's hard to get a sense of scale from here, but the telepath is bigger than a fridge, smaller than a car.

This enemy is a big black blob that hovers overhead and mind-controls groups of humans. The dialog hints that this experience is agonizing and terrifying for the victims. If the telepath senses you, it will send these human puppets after you. The human victims will shuffle towards you, flailing their limbs like marionettes in the hands of a novice. If they get too close, their heads explode, dealing huge damage.

I’m not totally sure what causes the head explosion. I mean, it’s obvious the Telepath monster triggers it, but I don’t think that human brain matter is particularly combustible. The game hints that this explosion is extremely violent. The head basically vaporizes and turns the skull fragments into shrapnel. This doesn’t seem like a natural extension of the telepath’s ability to manipulate minds.

Later the cook (we’ll talk about him in the moment) refers to the puppets as having “black eggs behind their eyes”. Maybe he’s talking about neuromods? Typhon flesh is indeed an oily black color and you obtain neuromods by injecting these huge needles through your eye, presumably depositing the mod behind the eyeballs. So perhaps the telepath isn’t exploding your fleshy human think-meat. Maybe it’s causing the clusters of Typhon cells to explode.

If this is the case, then someone without neuromods would be immune. The telepath wouldn’t have any way to weaponize them, and maybe it wouldn’t even be able to control them in the first place. Maybe those neuromods are creating the vulnerability that gives the telepath a way to hijack your brain?

Man, this setting is filled with such interesting ideas. I have a hard time condemning Alex Yu for studying the Typhon, because *I* want to study the dang things.

Here is the one telepath survivor you meet. She begins talking to you from a pitch-dark corner of the room. (The only reason you can see her is that I'm shining the flashlight on her.) Also, she's facing the wall? She begins talking the moment you enter instead of waiting for you to approach. So you end up with this seemingly disembodied voice talking to you from nowhere without warning. It's uh... it's not a great interaction.
Here is the one telepath survivor you meet. She begins talking to you from a pitch-dark corner of the room. (The only reason you can see her is that I'm shining the flashlight on her.) Also, she's facing the wall? She begins talking the moment you enter instead of waiting for you to approach. So you end up with this seemingly disembodied voice talking to you from nowhere without warning. It's uh... it's not a great interaction.

I didn’t realize it on my first trip through the game, but you can save the people being controlled by a telepath. If you knock them out, they’ll go limp. I just assumed these people would just remain unconscious for the rest of the game and were doomed to die when/if you chose to blow up the station at the end. But no! When you come back later, their bodies will be gone. The game isn’t totally forthcoming on where they’re hiding out, but the game seems to suggest that they’re somewhere arbitrarily safe where you don’t need to worry about them and where you can’t talk to them because voice actors are expensive.

You’ll never see these people again,With one exception of Rani in the screenshot above. but if you take the ending path that allows people to escape Talos-1, these former puppets will be counted among the survivors.

Poltergeist

My Typhon screenshots have been crap so far, so I'm not even going to TRY and show you a screenshot of an invisible monster in a dark room. Instead, here's a random picture of Alex.
My Typhon screenshots have been crap so far, so I'm not even going to TRY and show you a screenshot of an invisible monster in a dark room. Instead, here's a random picture of Alex.

This is very obviously an attempt to make something spooky. And I guess it worked.

The poltergeist is invisible and attacks by flinging objects around the room. The sound design borrows heavily from common horror movie tropes. Lots of howling, dissonant echoes. It also “speaks” by using weird distorted snippets of chatter from the victims it’s absorbed.

One cool detail is that it’s territorial. Unlike the other foes, it won’t chase you. It’s usually content to patrol one or two rooms and it only bothers you if it catches you trespassing. This encourages either stealthNot terribly effective. It’s hard to hide from something you can’t see. or just running through to get the item you need. Running and hiding is more scare-inducing than combat, which helps keep Poltergeist encounters spooky.

My first few Poltergeist encounters were brilliant. But once I was familiar with their tricks, they stopped being so scary. They’re not physically tough, but they’re annoying to fight because you can’t see them. Once you’re used to their jumpscare noises, they’re more irritating than frightening.

Still, those first few encounters are really something. Particularly if you have no idea what you’re dealing with ahead of time.

And speaking of monsters, there’s a different sort of monster here in the crew quarters…

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

This guy is the creepiest thing in the dining area, even when there's a mind-controlling tentacle monster flying around.
This guy is the creepiest thing in the dining area, even when there's a mind-controlling tentacle monster flying around.

A Telepath is terrorizing the dining hall. Once you deal with it, the cook calls you over. He’s locked himself in the kitchen, but he’s willing to let you in if you do him a favor. He wants you to go to his room and retrieve some culinary award from his personal belongings. It feels very much like a classic fantasy-style RPG quest, which is a little odd in this context.

Once you fetch his shiny thing, he lets you into the kitchen. Next he asks you to fix some equipment so he’ll have access to fresh drinking water. He plans to hide here in the kitchen until this disaster blows over, so he’s looking to make sure he’s got enough food and water to get through. There’s no way to tell him that his plan is a waste of time because you plan to blow the place up.

He says that if you fix the water, he’ll let you into the freezer. He says he’s stashed some of the Telepath’s victims in there,  and they might have some good stuff for you to loot.

Once you fix the water, he unlocks the freezer. You go inside, he locks the door behind you, gas pours in, and you die.You don’t really die. I’ll talk more about that in the next entry.

There’s a lot odd about this setup.

Killer Cook

That thing on the green plate in the foreground? You see these things all over the station. To me it looks like those incense censers that they use in Catholic churches. I'm sure it isn't, but I can't imagine what it's SUPPOSED to be. Liquor bottle maybe?
That thing on the green plate in the foreground? You see these things all over the station. To me it looks like those incense censers that they use in Catholic churches. I'm sure it isn't, but I can't imagine what it's SUPPOSED to be. Liquor bottle maybe?

It turns out that this cook is one of the test subject prisoners. He escaped, murdered the cook Will Mitchell, and then impersonated him. His real name is Luka Golubkin.

The game is sporting enough to give you several clues that he’s a fake:

  1. His name is supposedly the very anglo-sounding “Will Mitchell”, but he’s got a thick slavic accent. We already know that a lot of the human test subjects (the “volunteers”) were from the Soviet Union, so his accent in this context ought to be a bit of a red flag.
  2. If you go to Mitchel’s room, you can see a picture of the real cook. Luka Golubkin looks nothing like Will Mitchell.
  3. In Will’s room you can find a recording of his voice, which is much younger-sounding and doesn’t have an accent.”But Shamus, EVERYONE has an accent!” No. When speaking informally like this, it’s obvious that “has an accent” is a relative measure. I speak the same as the people around me, so I don’t have an accent. If I went to Texas, then I would have an accent relative to my surroundings. If a Texan visited me here in Pennsylvania, they would have an accent and I wouldn’t.
  4. Luka is wearing a red TranStar pressure suit, which doesn’t make sense for a cook. Given the generous size of the suit, Luka probably stole it from Morgan’s brother Alex.
  5. Luka is initially confused by Morgan’s nametag. He doesn’t recognize this incredibly famous company executive, when Morgan ought to be very familiar to him. Morgan and Will have both been on the station for years, and I have to assume she’s been eating food. There’s no way she would be a stranger to the real Will Mitchell. I can understand why Morgan doesn’t remember the cook, but the cook should at least know her name.
  6. If the player was reading the experiment data Psychotronics, then they probably read about test subject 37, a mentally disturbed individual that a Telepath monster refused to possess. Now they find the cook has been close to a Telepath for hours without being possessed. That’s not enough info to immediately prove that the cook is really subject 37, but it is something to make the player curious if they’ve been paying attention. (Although, that makes me wonder why the Telepaths don’t possess Morgan. I assumed her spacesuit protected her somehow, and Luka is wearing the same kind of suit. So I dunno if this counts as a clue or not.) EDIT: As many people pointed out in the comments, it doesn’t possess Morgan because you have the psychoscope. I KNEW this, at one point, but then I blanked out like a dimwit when I started thinking about this scene.
  7. If the previous items make you suspicious you can go to a security station and have it locate Will Mitchell. The resulting map marker will appear in the freezer and not on the guy claiming to be Mitchell. It’s unlikely a player will try this, but if they do that should be a total giveaway that this guy is both lying and dangerous.

Despite these clues, I managed to blunder into his trap like an idiot anyway. In my defense, there’s a lot going on in the crew quarters section. I was learning a lot of names and following a lot of different plot threads. I’m not great with faces and names to begin with, and the constant stream of audiologs from dozens of people was overwhelming my ability to keep track of everyone. By the time I got around to cleaning out the crew cabins, I’d forgotten the details of who the cook was claiming to be and why I needed this cooking award.

I did notice the red pressure suit and I thought that was kind of odd, but I cynically blamed that on the designers re-using existing character models. “Oh look, they reused Alex’s body and they thought I wouldn’t notice.” I also thought it was weird that the cook wouldn’t know Morgan’s name, but I didn’t immediately jump to the conclusion, “Ah-ha! Imposter!” I just thought it was, you know… a little odd.

Yu Got Me

Hold still. You might feel a little tingle, followed by the sound of me laughing and leaving you behind as mimic food.
Hold still. You might feel a little tingle, followed by the sound of me laughing and leaving you behind as mimic food.

I love the idea of a “gotcha” moment like this, because it was properly telegraphed. During my first-time playthrough I got distracted and blindly followed the in-game waypoint marker, which means I blundered into this trap unaware. That’s cool! I deserved it. Falling for cutscene incompetence is outrage-inducing, but falling due to actual incompetence is actually kinda fun, if handled right. Conversely, if you see it coming and avoid it, then you can feel clever.

Sadly, there are a few oddities with this ambush that kinda took the fun out of it for me.

One is that it feels like this shouldn’t work. When Luka springs his trap, white mist comes down from the ceiling and Morgan collapses. I can’t tell if this is flooding the room with gas, or if it’s flash-freezing me. In either case, what kind of walk-in freezer has a button that allows you to suffocate / insta-freeze someone? It’s not like you can “hack” a freezer to be able to do this. Someone would need to specifically engineer this capability into the freezer. That would be impractical, expensive, and serve no purpose other than to create needless danger for kitchen staff.

Moreover, I’m wearing a spacesuit. It’s specifically designed to provide me with breathable air and keep me warm in the frigid 2.7 Kelvin of space. You can’t get much colder than that, so I don’t see how a walk-in freezer could pose an immediate threat to me. I guess maybe the game is saying that this hits me when I have the helmet open? But then, it takes several seconds for Morgan to fall over, and that seems like plenty of time to get the helmet closed. Also, you get this overlay of triangles on the HUD, which the game normally uses to indicate that your helmet is closed. But if my helmet is closed then how is this a threat to me? I should be able to hang around in here for hours.You never have to worry about running out of oxygen during a space walk.

Not sure why I knocked him out. If you blow up the station, then leaving him unconscious like this is the same as killing him. Except this way he might get turned into mimics or phantoms that I'll have to deal with. (Not really, but it's what Morgan ought to assume.) He's dead either way, so it makes more sense to just kill him now.
Not sure why I knocked him out. If you blow up the station, then leaving him unconscious like this is the same as killing him. Except this way he might get turned into mimics or phantoms that I'll have to deal with. (Not really, but it's what Morgan ought to assume.) He's dead either way, so it makes more sense to just kill him now.

But the worst thing for me is that this feels like a game over, when it isn’t. There’s a flash of pure red and a musical sting before the fade to white, which really felt like an insta-death damage spike. I associated that musical sting with death, so when I blundered into this trap I just assumed I’d died. So I opened the menu and loaded a save, not realizing that Morgan was knocked out and that I’d be able to wake up and continue playing in a few more seconds.

I’ve been through the game six times now, and I didn’t realize you could survive this ambush until I decided to read about this scenario on the wiki.

Also, what could a freezer POSSIBLY do to someone in a space suit that would knock them out and somehow NOT kill them? If it somehow overwhelmed me with such intense cold that I passed out, then I’m going to freeze to death before I wake up.

This is a great moment, but it’s somewhat ruined by the confusing presentation. It doesn’t make sense that he should be able to knock you out, and when he does it feels like a game over anyway.

Solving the Crime

I couldn't understand a word that was said by Skillet, the kitchen operator robot. The voice distortion was just too strong. Is it just me and my old ears, or is this thing just unintelligible?
I couldn't understand a word that was said by Skillet, the kitchen operator robot. The voice distortion was just too strong. Is it just me and my old ears, or is this thing just unintelligible?

The other problem with this scenario is that it breaks the unspoken rule of a silent protagonist: It’s fine that I can’t talk, as long as you never put me in a position where I NEED to.

It’s possible for an attentive player to realize the cook is sketchy. However, I don’t think they have enough information to justify pulling out a weapon and taking physical action against him. In this situation, the most reasonable course of action would be to draw a weapon and demand to know who he is and why he’s pretending to be Will Mitchell. The game has placed our silent protagonist in a situation where they need to be able to speak, and that’s a no-no.

It would be fine if Morgan was a literal mute or a robot without the ability to speak, but Morgan is presumably a functioning adult that knows how to communicate with other people using mouth noise.

I’m not even sure you could solve this with a dialog wheel. The whole point is to have players fall for this trap, and having pre-baked dialog options would ruin this. If the player sees “I know you’re not the real Chef Mitchell!” in their dialog options, then they’ll realize the truth even if they missed the clues. There’s no way to allow the player to respond in dialog without also ruining the secret for the unaware.

Also, I’d really like to know why Luka Golubkin asks Morgan to go to Will Mitchell’s room and fetch his gold medal. Why would Luka want a sentimental item like this? More importantly, this is what ultimately incriminates him. The cook’s quarters are where you discoverAssuming you’re paying attention more than I was. that Luka’s face and voice don’t match with who he claims to be. Luka basically incriminates himself by asking you to get an item that is of no practical use to him.

One final oddity with this setup is that Luka offers you the opportunity to loot the people in the freezer. That’s a creepy thing to bargain with. “Hey, I’ve got a bunch of your dead colleagues in my freezer. If you help me out I’ll let you through their pockets!”

Now, as it turns out you really do need something from one of the bodies. But it feels like Luka immediately senses that you’re the player character and thus he knows you’re going to be obsessively looting containers and bodies like a crazy person. I mean, he’s right, but this is usually the sort of thing that NPCs aren’t supposed to notice.

Danielle Sho

Nice job sealing our valuable data archives in with a bunch of Typhon and then locking the door so nobody else could rescue the data YOU'RE supposed to protect. I see you've decided to pointlessly suffocate yourself as penance? So, I guess that saves me from having to kill you myself for the crime of being an obstructionist NPC. Thanks for that, I guess?
Nice job sealing our valuable data archives in with a bunch of Typhon and then locking the door so nobody else could rescue the data YOU'RE supposed to protect. I see you've decided to pointlessly suffocate yourself as penance? So, I guess that saves me from having to kill you myself for the crime of being an obstructionist NPC. Thanks for that, I guess?

Incidentally, the whole reason we need to have to have this crazy misadventure here in the Crew Quarters is that the door to Deep Storage is locked, and that’s our real goal. For some reason, Danielle Sho locked the door to Deep Storage using her voice, meaning she’s the only person on the station that can get in. That’s an outrageous and absurd thing for her to have done. It actually reminds me of the Simpsons gag where Homer exits the power plant during a fire drill and pointlessly barricades the door behind him. Moreover, it’s not even clear why she did it. Disclaimer: Like we’re all discovering in this series, there are tons of messages, emails, notes, and audiologs scattered around the station. It’s possible that this was explained somewhere and I missed it. Still, Danielle ought to have a SPECTACULARLY good reason for sealing the door to Deep Storage.

The place was already infested with Typhon, so it’s not like she did this in an attempt to keep them out. Moreover, part of her job was the safekeeping of all the drives in Deep Storage. By locking the doors, she not only locked herself out of her own office, but also ensured that nobody would be able to rescue any of the data that had been entrusted to her. If your job is to protect paintings in an art gallery, then the last thing you should do is lock the doors when a fire breaks out. Maybe the paintings can be saved and maybe they can’t, but there’s no reason to guarantee they’ll burn with the building!

It’s possible that this is deliberate on the part of the writer. The confusing thing about Ms. Sho is that she has sympathetic line delivery and a little side-story that humanizes her, but if you judge her solely on her actions in the game then you can actually make a pretty good case that she’s a petty, small-minded dimwit.

I bring this up because you actually get the chance to talk to her. She’s stuck outside the station, but you converse through the windowShe’s outside the station, so I assume you’re actually talking on the radio and not literally shouting through the window and the hard vacuum of space. and she gives you the last of the audio samples you need to open the door to Deep Storage.

My problem is that once again, we find ourselves in a situation where my silent protagonist needs to talk. Danielle does all the talking, but I have a dozen questions for her that I’m unable to ask. Why did you lock the door to Deep Storage? Why did you lock it with YOUR voice? Why are you deliberately suffocating outside the ship when you could easily come back inside and be as safe as any of the other dozen or so survivors? My suit seems to have an unlimited ability to recycle oxygen – why doesn’t yours? Why were you hanging out so close to the telepath that was controlling the pool? How did you avoid being mind-controlled? You asked me to kill the cook to avenge his murdering your estranged girlfriend, but why don’t YOU do it? If you’ve already resigned yourself to die, then why not try to make it worth something? Why did you seal yourself in Deep Storage and then escape using the data vault, when you could have just walked downstairs and gone through the door that was keyed to your voice?Okay, Morgan can’t ask this yet because she hasn’t been to Deep Storage and therefore can’t see how needlessly convoluted Danielle’s plan is. Also, you seem to be trapped between the outer hull and the inner hull – how did you get there and why?

I like silent protagonists, but only if the writer makes sure that their silence is never a hindrance to the player. Otherwise it turns into I Have No Mouth and I Must Nitpick.

Anyway.

We finally have samples of Sho’s voice, so now we can get around her inexplicable sabotage of the door to Deep Storage. But I have one last thing to nitpick before we leave the crew quarters behind. I’ll talk about that next time.

 

Footnotes:

[1] With one exception of Rani in the screenshot above.

[2] Not terribly effective. It’s hard to hide from something you can’t see.

[3] You don’t really die. I’ll talk more about that in the next entry.

[4] ”But Shamus, EVERYONE has an accent!” No. When speaking informally like this, it’s obvious that “has an accent” is a relative measure. I speak the same as the people around me, so I don’t have an accent. If I went to Texas, then I would have an accent relative to my surroundings. If a Texan visited me here in Pennsylvania, they would have an accent and I wouldn’t.

[5] You never have to worry about running out of oxygen during a space walk.

[6] Assuming you’re paying attention more than I was.

[7] Disclaimer: Like we’re all discovering in this series, there are tons of messages, emails, notes, and audiologs scattered around the station. It’s possible that this was explained somewhere and I missed it. Still, Danielle ought to have a SPECTACULARLY good reason for sealing the door to Deep Storage.

[8] She’s outside the station, so I assume you’re actually talking on the radio and not literally shouting through the window and the hard vacuum of space.

[9] Okay, Morgan can’t ask this yet because she hasn’t been to Deep Storage and therefore can’t see how needlessly convoluted Danielle’s plan is.



From The Archives:
 

140 thoughts on “Prey 2017 Part 9: Kill the Cook

  1. Alarion says:

    Regarding that green thing: I think it’s a samovar. A Russian tea drinking device, similar to a rice cooker for tea. Prep it once and have tea for the whole day.
    Given that Talos 1 was a Russian station, and there are a lot of Russian influences (Mikhaila being the most obvious one), that made sense to me. Looks a little off, but maybe it’s because it’s a zero-g-combatible version?

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Or just a plain old sci-fi version. Gotta upgrade your trinkets in the future! :)

    2. Lino says:

      Wait, only Russians use it? I know they’re crazy about them – I’ve seen it in every Russian-owned hotel I’ve been in, and I see it often enough in Russian movies – but I thought more people knew what a samovar is (at the very least I thought there was a proprietary word for it in English)…

      1. Steve C says:

        Never heard of it before. And I had a Russian roommate for 3 years.

      2. Shufflecat says:

        “Samovar” is what it’s called in English too. And yes, they’re common in the US, at least. Not usually a home thing, but they’re standard kit in hotels, restaurants, catering services, etc.

        BUT, it wouldn’t surprise me if plenty of Americans still only know them colloquially as “coffee pots” instead of “samovars”. And it wouldn’t surprise me if ones like those in the game are less recognized here: most samovars in America tend to be just industrial-looking metal and plastic cylinders (because their main context is as service kitchen appliances) rather than fancy or decorated shapes.

        1. Moridin says:

          Samovar is a specific thing and not just a coffee pot with a tap.

          1. Yes–it contains a vertical tube that has a charcoal fire or other source of heat inside of it that heats the water in the big urn and also keeps a teapot placed on the top hot. A big container full of tea with a tap is a tea urn, not a samovar.

      3. The+Puzzler says:

        According to that link, “the samovar is well known outside of Russia and has spread through Russian culture to Eastern Europe, South-Eastern Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Kashmir, the Middle East, Azerbaijan and is also known in some parts of Central Europe.”
        Which is to say, not very well known everywhere else.

  2. Alarion says:

    Oh, also another hint that the cook is an imposter: Morgan and the real Will Mitchell worked together on the custom culinary robot that’s flying around in the kitchen. They were very friendly and knew each other well. There’s several messages in the station about this.

    The explanation I had for the freezer was that my space suit automatically detects the atmosphere. (It keeps saying warning messages regarding gravity, so that made sense). It just needed a couple seconds to pressurize the suit and close the helmet, during which time Morgan was blacking out. Then she came to. That explanation made sense for me, but was really kitchen-sinky and head-canony. So your mileage may vary.

    My explanation for the medal quest: Luka Golubkin knew Morgan was dangerous (the weapons, beating the telepath). He knew in the quarters there was a strong typhon (I forget, but I think the poltergeist?). So he thought sending Morgan there would kill her and solve his problem. You can overhear him muttering upon your return wether Morgan will return, and wether to let her into the kitchen if she does, which made me think of this theory.

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      My explanation for the medal quest: Luka Golubkin knew Morgan was dangerous (the weapons, beating the telepath). He knew in the quarters there was a strong typhon (I forget, but I think the poltergeist?). So he thought sending Morgan there would kill her and solve his problem. You can overhear him muttering upon your return wether Morgan will return, and wether to let her into the kitchen if she does, which made me think of this theory.

      There’s also a Voltaic Phantom. There’s even a point where the lights start flickering (a telltale sign of Phantoms in this game) and he comes over the intercom to say something like, “Man, this station’s really falling apart right now, huh? I’m sure it’s safe” which is another hint that he’s not on the level.

    2. ShasUi says:

      In regards to the freezer, the atmosphere is definitely a factor: while space is “cold”, vacuum is a great insulator. Space suits need heaters to make up for that lost to outside, but they also often have cooling systems, because it’s just as easy to build up heat. Taking a suit optimized for those conditions and put it into a high wind-chill situation, it’ll have issues keeping up. If you can add water to the situation, you’re in for an even worse time, though at least you don’t have to worry about it soaking through.

      1. King Marth says:

        Space might be ~2 Kelvin, but that’s like talking about how sparks are over a thousand degrees. While true, and sparks do pose a fire hazard for that reason, having one fall on your skin will do next to nothing because there’s practically no material there, so the total energy transfer is minuscule. Similarly, a static electricity zap is a few thousand volts to cross dry air; this sounds really high compared to standard household voltage of 120-240V, but again you’re limited by the amount of energy putting charge into that state.

        As for spacesuit oxygen, my initial assumption on seeing no oxygen meter would be “okay, it can handle long enough that it’s not worth tracking in-game, but after hours or days I’d still expect suffocation”. The absence of a bathroom meter doesn’t indicate to me that bathrooms are unnecessary, especially when they’ve been placed on the ship.

        I’m more surprised by how the normal death screen is so slow to provide the reload option that you tend to reach for the menu before it gives you a chance. I guess I don’t play the kind of games that use quicksave/quickload.

        1. Shufflecat says:

          Yeah, I was thinking that about the space suit comment too.

          When people say space is “cold”, they’re talking about the temperature of literally one particle every X cubic meters averaged over light years of sky. On the scale of basically anything human-relevant (a suit, a ship, a station, etc.) the concept of an ambient “outside” temperature doesn’t meaningfully exist.

          Space suits aren’t designed to fend off “the cold of space”. They’re designed to efficiently equalize and dump excess heat, so you don’t get roasted in your own body heat buildup, and so the thermal shock from one-sided exposure to unfiltered sunlight in a vacuum doesn’t break anything.

    3. Echo Tango says:

      Wait, if they worked together on that custom robot, that makes even less sense that Morgan didn’t immediately recognize him as an imposter. Not knowing the name of the station’s cook when you’re an executive is one thing, but that robot project probably had them working together and joking around for at least an afternoon! :|

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        It’s part of the memories that were wiped because of Neuromod experiments; anything that ever happened on the station before the game starts is something Morgan won’t remember, even if she participated in it. There’s even an entire romantic relationship that she broke off because she knew this was about to happen.

  3. Coming Second says:

    I think Golubkin wants the chef’s award because it has some personal record that can ‘prove’ he’s Mitchell, with which he can change his identity in Deep Storage. It’s for the exact same reason Sho has locked access to it.

    I can’t remember if this is made clear in logs, or the game provides enough hints for you to surmise this, or come up with your own explanation. I think it’s a good example of how, if you’ve built a story and world tightly enough that the player can invest themselves in it, they will be perfectly willing to let small logic holes go, or the world itself is intelligent enough that it will suggest a reason for something to happen even if it isn’t specifically explained.

    It goes the other way. Lots of times in Andromeda events aren’t explained or don’t make sense, and most of them aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. But because the writing and world building are so piss poor, the quests they set you on so boring, they aggravate you beyond measure. You aren’t ever willing to give the game the benefit of the doubt. But when I found Sho inexplicably hanging around outside I didn’t really mind, because Prey was well in credit with me by that point.

    1. Shufflecat says:

      Well, she’s not inexplicably hanging out. It’s implied she went out there in the first place because the at that time things were getting pretty apocalyptic inside, so it’s not unreasonable for to her to have thought it would be safer outside. And she’s hanging out by the window specifically because she left a note for her ex to meet there if her ex was still alive (an “I’ll wait for X hours, then assume you’re dead and move on” thing). Yu only meet her if you use the signal from said note, so I’m not sure it’s possible to meet her without having read it.

      I don’t remember exactly, but I don’t think she knew her ex was dead until Morgan showed up.

      Also I don’t think she’s between the outer and inner hull like Shamus says. The area she’s in is fully open and accessible from the outside, it’s just not easy to recognize because the windows aren’t transparent (to the player) from the outside, so you can’t figure out what window is which just by looking in them. The station’s covered in windows, but from the outside they all just look like bare metal hull panels because of how the rendering was designed.

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        I don’t remember exactly, but I don’t think she knew her ex was dead until Morgan showed up.

        It actually depends on whether you do this quest or not as it’s actually possible to get enough voice samples to open Deep Storage without ever meeting the cook. If you do this, Danielle calls you in the middle of Deep Storage to progress both the main quest and her sidequest (which jumps straight to “go kill the cook”)

        1. Shufflecat says:

          I just reloaded a save to check the voice files (not in response to your post, just in general), and it looks like her quest was badly edited at the last minute to intersect it with the cook’s.

          The way the dialog when you meet her at the window is written, it looks like she’s supposed to only find out Abby was dead because Yu show up at the window instead, but at some point much later a different writer (or other dev) went back and spliced in stuff about the cook without caring about how it effected Sho’s quest story, or even the dialog they were inserting that stuff into.

          The story changes mid paragraph. They literally just copy-pasted the stuff about the cook in there without even re-reading what lines they were attaching it to.

          It smells strongly of a late change made in testing. Like, they discovered there weren’t enough hints about the cook for many test players, so they just quickly crammed a couple “OH BTW IT”S THE COOK” lines in there.

      2. Shamus says:

        If you go outside the station, you can’t actually reach her location. I tried. The wiki confirms that others have tried and also discovered there’s a mysterious wall in the way.

        It’s not so much that she’s between the inner and outer hull. It’s more like her waypoint appears inside the station when you’re outside, and it appears outside when you’re inside.

        1. Shufflecat says:

          I’m gonna say that’s because the waypoint is bugged (or maybe more likely deliberately made that way to prevent sequence breaking her quest).

          I didn’t go looking for her waypoint. I just went looking for the exterior window that matched the interior location, window shape, and exterior scenery visible through it from the inside. And I found it within 5 minutes.

          Its location is in a recessed corner, and it’s occluded by the solar panels, but it’s definitely there. There’s no wall in the way of it, but like all windows , it looks like metal panels from the outside (because I guess they didn’t want the extra rendering overhead).

          I can see if I can post screenshots, if you like.

          1. Richard says:

            Is the body there?

            1. Shufflecat says:

              No. I didn’t check the security waypoint for her, so I don’t know where that points you either. I play games with HUD-based quest markers turned off whenever possible, and in this case I’ve got a mod installed that (incidentally) interferes with them even if they’re turned on, so checking the waypoint would have been a PITA in my case.

              Based on what Shamus says above, I’m guessing there’s no physical body in the game. It sounds like her waypoint is buried in the hull so people can’t encounter her alive before doing her quest and meeting her at the window. And that the devs never set up a trigger to move the waypoint after her quest is done, because meeting her at the window counts as finding her, so there’s no mechanical incentive for players to go looking for her outside.

              Since I didn’t check the security roster, I have no idea if the game even considers her alive or dead once her quest is done. I mean, it seems implied that she just runs out of air and dies out there, but at the same time, there’s literally no reason Yu couldn’t have pointed her to an unlocked airlock so she could join the rest of the survivors.

              Like I say: I think her story was the victim of some late development rewriting that screwed it up a bit.

              Steam isn’t letting me upload screenshots to my gallery right now for some reason, so here’s directions on how to find the pool window outside:

              Go around to the “front” of the station. I.e. the side with the lobby windows, and the round Transtar seal at the top just below the arboretum dome (the “back” will have an escape pod launcher there instead of the seal).

              Look at the metal “Transtar” lettering that runs vertically up the middle of the central high rise between the lobby windows and the seal. At the top of the lettering there will be a gap right above the “R”, with some debris spilling out.

              Enter this gap. Directly in front of you and slightly upward there will be a hull breach opening into one of the crew quarters sleeping pod barracks. Look to the immediate right of this hull breach, and you’ll see a large, vertically slanted bay window with spotlights along its lower sill (remember that on the outside all windows look like metal panels with a Widmanstatten pattern). This is the pool window.

              1. Chad Miller says:

                No. I didn’t check the security waypoint for her, so I don’t know where that points you either.

                It turns out she didn’t wear her tracking bracelet; it’s in either her quarters or her office, I forget which.

  4. Syal says:

    So is there an explanation for how Golubkin knows the award exists? If he’s been in the crew quarters, presumably he would have grabbed it himself, right? Is he just bluffing and got lucky?

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      There’s a picture of Mitchell in the quarters with Will’s face scratched out, which a lot of people assume was Luka’s doing. I’m not sure why he would want the award if that’s the case (or fail to have picked it up himself) unless it was expressly a wild goose chase for Morgan.

      1. JH-M says:

        My understanding is that it *exactly* a wild goose chase, meant to kill Morgan. I think it was to somehow steal her Idendity, or somehow escape the station safely.

        1. Henson says:

          This was my assumption, since I had the crew doors open randomly after talking to the cook, and him talking over the loundspeaker, “don’t worry about the power flickering”. My immediate thought was that he had rigged the doors to open, possibly as an attempt to draw out phantoms to kill me.

          1. Ophelia says:

            This is exactly it. There is ALWAYS a Voltaic Phantom when you go to retrieve the award, there is some light flooding in that corridor if I remember correctly. You aren’t being sent to get an award because he wants to make the Will Mitchell disguise more believable. He’s specifically sending you to get killed by a Phantom.

            Once you survive and start making your way back, you can hear him rambling on the intercom about ‘What if M. Yu comes back? Will have to let M. Yu in…’. So he clearly has only just considered his phantom deathtrap might not work.

            1. bobbert says:

              Every time I see it written like that. I think, “Wait! Mr. Yu is French?”

    2. Alarion says:

      There’s a diploma on the wall of the chef’s quarter as well as the kitchen. Couldn’t read all of it, but maybe the award is mentioned there, and Golubkin guessed that the medal would be by the other diploma?
      Alternatively he could have been in the quarter and got out – maybe other typhon ignore him, too? That would explain how he knew the cabin was a death trap for Morgan.

  5. Chad+Miller says:

    re: Telepaths – I don’t remember where I got this impression, but my understanding is that Psychoscopes protect from Telepath mind control somehow. Maybe in some of the research notes, or some of the notes about that guy in the Trauma Center. At least this is what I took to be the reason why they became mandatory for Psychotronics staff.

    I’m not sure the head exploding thing is ever explained at all, but I just thought they were taking the latent psychic ability that’s already implied to exist in humans and “overclocking” their puppets’ brains to send a psionic blast that takes the puppet with it. This would actually be an unusually well-justified version of that particular trope, because it would explain why most people aren’t using telekinesis even if their brains are technically capable of it.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      Alternative explanation for the ‘splodey-heads: the brain is constantly burning glucose at a low level at all times to function, to the point where roughly 1/5 of the energy you expend per day is from your brain alone. If we take the old 2,000 Calories-per-day average energy output of an adult human, that’s 400 Calories a brain uses over the course of a day. These are big-C Calories (or kilocalories), too, or 1.674 million joules of energy. According to the first response for “energy in a stick of dynamite”, the average stick of dynamite contains about 1 million joules of energy*. Telepaths, then, simply force the brains of the people they’re controlling to burn all that energy in a few milliseconds rather than over 24 hours, annnnd, boom (literally)—’splodey heads.

      *So yes, your brain uses more energy than is in a stick of dynamite every single day to power your thinking and keep you alive. Using the numbers above, it comes out to a power of ~20 watts.

      1. Moridin says:

        That doesn’t really work. Yes, there’s a lot of bioavailable energy in a brain (and I mean a lot – the daily calories are only a tiny portion of it, given that brain is mostly fatty tissue), but trying to use that to power an explosion would be like trying to start a fire with a roll of toilet paper that’s been soaked in water. Before you can get any sort of burning reaction (let alone an explosion) you need to get rid of all the water.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          True, oxygen would likely become the limiting reagent. So, we just say the Telepaths also store up oxygen in the possessed humans’ brains (somehow…) in preparation. (The presence of water shouldn’t be a problem, since it doesn’t seem to inhibit all the combustion of glucose happening throughout the day normally…)

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            Or, more straightforward, the Telepath shunts a bunch of energy into them through the fundamental Consciousness Field or however that works, and the head explodes because that’s the seat of consciousness in modern humans.

            1. Philadelphus says:

              Yeah, if a Tryphon had possessed Aristotle his heart would’ve exploded instead. ;)

          2. Moridin says:

            Water doesn’t inhibit combustion in human cells, because it’s not actually combustion. Sure, you start with sugar and oxygen, and end with CO2 and water, but the process is a lot more complex (not to mention slower. An important key aspect when you’re talking about trying to make something explode).

            1. Philadelphus says:

              Oh, are you saying it’s not technically “combustion” because it’s being mediated by enzymes rather than the reactants directly reacting? Fair enough.

              (And I get that it’s slow in reality; we’re discussing a hypothetical creature than can possess human brains and make them explode, so I figured “realistic reaction rates” were the least of the implausibilities to worry about. :)

    2. RFS-81 says:

      I’m not sure if the scan visor is part of the psychoscope or if it is the psychoscope.

      At one point, I had the headcanon that Telepaths somehow can’t possess psychopaths and that’s why the cook and Morgan are both immune. I mean, at least some versions of Morgan qualify as psychopaths, I would say.

      But yeah. probably it’s just that the visor is not essential.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        Yeah, here I’m using “Psychoscope” to refer to the entire headgear, the actual visor + whatever it’s connected to that processes the scan data and somehow lets you use it to create Typhon neuromods.

        Muddying the waters a bit is that someone, I think January, mentions the turrets using psychoscope technology for their targeting systems.

  6. Chad+Miller says:

    re: the Cook – this is funny because my reaction was almost the diametric opposite, in that I figured out he was crooked immediately but still fell for the trap anyway (as in, I noticed his accent, and I don’t remember if I hit the quarters or the security station first but I immediately noticed that Will’s bracelet is in the fridge and that his emails implied that yes, he should know damn well who Morgan is). It really does have this problem of leaving even the players who found it suspicious thinking “I don’t know what to do”, not in the sense of “what would my character do in this tense situaiton?” but “what options do I actually have in this here video game?” I actually stun gunned him at first, but then I got a “quest failed” popup with no other fanfare and figured I’d messed up, so then I reloaded, let him trap me, and then played the rest of the game like that.

    Then for the rest of the game I proceeded to die to every single trap he set at least once. I got recycled so many times.

    Strangely, I also missed the connections to “37” completely. I didn’t even notice that all the emails about that volunteer were the same person, as some only use the full number and I was just blanking over it.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      It really does have this problem of leaving even the players who found it suspicious thinking “I don’t know what to do”, not in the sense of “what would my character do in this tense situaiton?” but “what options do I actually have in this here video game?”

      Very much so. It’s a common problem in games going back to old point-and-click adventure games: thinking about what *you* would in a situation do is one thing. Finding what the game *expects* you to do, allows you to do, though…is another matter.
      Honestly, thought, I fell for it because – by this point – this point the game had changed the stated objective so many times and thrown so many obstacles in my path that I’d just stopped really thinking about it. Oh, that creepy russian guy wants to to find a medal from his room before I can move on? Yeah, sure, it’s all just a series of excuses to force me to explore every section of the station anyway.

      I’m reminded of the side mission in Mass Effect 2* in which you meet a young Asari in a mercenary base. She gives you a bullshit story about being an innocent hostage, but you find out later (AFTER you’ve either killed her or let her go) that she was an unrepentant murderer.
      One the one hand: well done, game, you fooled me. There were hints she was suspicious and I missed them. On the other: I think that might be one of the very few times that game expects you to really think about a situation and how it’s presented, rather than telegraphing the Good/Evil options from a mile away.
      I mean, also featured in that side mission is the introduction to the character Samara – the game’s ‘spiritual warrior-monk’, who wears a skintight catsuit that shows off her cleavage. The first thing we see her do is snap somone’s neck with her oversized high heels, because she’s so badass.

      Dammit, is this a game for smart thinky people or is it not!?

      * #ObligatoryMassEffectMentions

      1. Daimbert says:

        Yeah, that’s an issue in games. Sure, in a vacuum, a choice like those works and makes sense and could lead to a reasonable sense that you’d been fooled and, in the case of Prey, a real and palpable sense that you COULD have seen the trap coming if you paid attention to the hints that were laid, making it seem totally fair. But if the game has been giving me a lot of contrived cases and cases where something might seem suspicious but it really turns out to be simply something used to facilitate gameplay, the player is more likely to react with a “NOW you’re actually playing this stuff straight?!?” instead of with admiration for the work the story has done with that set-up.

        From what I’ve read, this is probably the issue with the “Fire in the air” scene in Spec Ops: The Line: it might be a good commentary on what the player seems is the reasonable thing to do in such a situation if the rest of the game hadn’t been doing such a good job proving that such actions can’t be taken and never work.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          That scene also had the problem, that the player doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. Earlier in the game, I believe you always have the option of shooting into the ground to scare away people install of killing them, or doing other nonviolent things, but I’m pretty sure I quit the game because that scene wouldn’t let me do anything else. The opposition I’d been facing up to that point was for the most part, under-equipped militia fighters, but then the game decides that we really need to go total overkill RIGHT NOW, no questions asked. Even if you’re the prototypical player of the contemporary military scooters the game was criticizing, the game had already been setting you up to question the types of orders which are usually unquestioned in those other games. :|

          1. Daimbert says:

            I haven’t played the game, but the scene I heard about was one where the team is being pressed by civilians and most of the time what they do is shoot them to break it up, but someone by accident fired into the air and that scares them off without killing any of them. But the comments were that at the time no one knew that you could do that and it would work (or else maybe that it didn’t work other times when it would have made sense) and so while it COULD have been an interesting choice that tied into the theme they were going for, the fact that at previous times the game didn’t allow it or implied that it wouldn’t work meant that most players wouldn’t think of it not because they were getting caught up in the blood lust, but instead because they simply didn’t see it as an option that would have any effect. So the issue is that a situation where thinking creatively was introduced, but only after the game had spent time eliminating the creative option in the mind of most players.

            1. Syal says:

              The big one I’ve heard about is the scene where you’re required to kill a group of civilians with white phosphorous.
              Even if you catch on that they’re civilians, there’s no option other than hitting them with the phosphorous. After that, firing into a hostile crowd doesn’t have much weight.

              Likewise, the end of the game requires you to draw your weapon on friendly forces, but then it doesn’t require you to shoot. The game has weird choices.

              1. Daimbert says:

                Yeah, I heard about that one as well, but it didn’t really fit the theme here as there is no way to avoid getting railroaded into hitting them. The one I’m referencing is a case where many people seem to have figured out later that you don’t need to shoot into the crowd to disperse them, and so you COULD avoid doing something bad by thinking creatively if only the game had given any indication that something like that could be done and could work.

      2. Chris says:

        Reminds me of metal gear solid 3. There you have a few moments where the game rewards you for using actual real life logic. For example, you can destroy the food supply and soldiers will complain about hunger, you can snipe a boss earlier in the game while hes waiting somewhere on a bench and avoid the bossfight, or during the bossfight you can shoot his parrot (which acts as his spotter). You can also eat russian rations, which are less tasty, which then make the other rations heal more because snake likes their taste best. You go into a dark cave, and if you wait for 5 minutes snakes vision will adjust to the dark and you can navigate it. However there are also plenty of moments where the game doesn’t allow you to use real life logic.

  7. Chad+Miller says:

    Re: Danielle Sho – You actually can cobble together enough samples for the voice generator without talking to her. I think it requires material from outside the Crew Quarters (e.g. if you picked up all the voice records in the Trauma Center you’ll be at 20% already from her argument with the jerk therapist). She still gives you the “kill the Cook” quest but has to call you to do it. The call starts with something like “I know you spoofed my voice to get in there…” which, humorously enough, sounds like an accusation even though most players are probably thinking “Am I really supposed to feel even the tiniest bit guilty about this?”

  8. Trevor says:

    Danielle Sho’s emails and especially psych evals (she’s ordered to get counseling) paint a picture of a person who is really at odds with the Yus, their methods, and their research. Filling in the gaps a little, it seems she reacted to the Typhon outbreak by using her position to lock down all the data in Deep Storage so that it’s as hard as possible for Yu to get access to it. It makes a certain amount of sense. She was convinced the research the Yus were doing on the station was dangerous, tries to warn people about it and is rebuffed time and time again. When her fears that there’s some dangerous stuff going on is realized, she reacts by making sure Alex and Morgan can’t just grab the research and walk away over her and her friends’ dead bodies. Sure her job is to protect the research data, but that paycheck doesn’t mean much when the station’s research got all her friends killed. (Why she doesn’t delete all the data is unclear. Maybe she only has control over access to the archive and doesn’t have the authority to delete the files, or maybe she doesn’t because that would make progress in the game impossible)

    As for why she ends up helping you later, from the audio logs we learn she’s really quick tempered but then regrets her actions later. She makes a snap decision to break up with her girlfriend Abigail over a small slight and doesn’t have the chance to reconcile with her before the station falls. So making a big dramatic action like completely locking down Deep Storage only to then regret it/want to undo it seems entirely within her character.

    1. Jabrwock says:

      Could also be a bargaining chip. As long as the data is intact, she can negotiate with Yu. If she destroys it right away, she loses control.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        That fits. She might have done it before the Typhon were loose, or at least before anyone realised that they were – like the guy who installed DRM on the neuromods. It’d make a strong blackmail tool to leverage against the Yus in order to ensure her concerns are heard.
        (Well no, not really, but Sho’s prone to making bad, rash decisions…)

        As Chad Miller pointed out a few posts earlier, the Typhon almost certainly hid after escaping, only revealing themselves when they had overwhelming numbers or got doscovered.

        1. Richard says:

          Yes, there’s a lot of emails making it very clear that the Typhon had been out for several days, if not longer.

          Things going missing, being reprogrammed, fuses mysteriously turning into black goo when powered on…

  9. Mr. Wolf says:

    Of course telepaths can explode heads. And even more exciting, so can you! That’s what happens when you kill a human via psychoshock*.

    * Actually, as I race the edit lock, I realise that may only apply if they’re already mind-controlled.

    I may have learned this when I got my psychic powers mixed up. I may have accidentally exploded somebody’s head while trying to free them from mind control. I may have still got the ‘Do No Harm’ achievement despite this slip-up.

  10. Smith says:

    The confusing thing about Ms. Sho is that she has sympathetic line delivery and a little side-story that humanizes her,

    I didn’t play the game, just watched an LP of that side-story, and I didn’t feel like she was particularly humanized or sympathetic, unless you count a generic (toxic?) couple story. Well, generic except for one obvious factor, which is not enough to make it interesting for me.

    (I’m being slightly vague to avoid a political derail.)

    I’m not even sure ‘standing up to the Yu’s’ is particularly interesting either. Morgan was doing the same thing herself, sorta. Trevor’s thoughts above do make sense, though. Which would take it from “generic couple story” to “one sane wo/man fighting against The System whose love life is affected by the challenges they’re facing.”

    Which only makes it slightly less generic, IMO.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I feel similar. By the time I met her I felt like I got Danielle Sho, but didn’t particularly like her. Overly agressive, too proud to apologise, prone to rash decisions – a lot of which makes sense given her knowing about the Typhon and being ignored, having a creepy company crony for a therapist, having to work with Alex and Morgan, etc, but a lot of her problems were distinctly *her* fault.

      Shamus makes a good point about her dying pointlessly outside the station, though. Okay, so you don’t have a psychoscope – or whatever protects Morgan from mind control – and the Telepath will get you if you come back in. But what’s stopping you from camping out next to one of those O2 dispensers around the hull? Or going to a different entrance to try and get back in that way?

      1. Gethsemani says:

        I am honestly not sure you are supposed to like Sho. She is meant to come off as obnoxious, self-centered and rash. At best you might be meant to empathize with her as she realizes all the mistakes she’s made, but only once she can’t fix them and is dying. It doesn’t make her a nice or likable person but rather a tragic character meant to remind us about the costs of not being empathetic and considering other people’s lives and feelings (which neatly ties in with the stinger).

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          It doesn’t make her a nice or likable person but rather a tragic character meant to remind us about the costs of not being empathetic and considering other people’s lives and feelings

          Yes, when you get to Danielle’s room you find flowers and a bunch of half-drafted apology notes to her (ex-)girlfriend. And the voicemail quest is largely an excuse to have you find that stuff.

        2. Zekiel says:

          I really liked her. Guess I’m a sucker for tragic love stories.

          It I also didn’t actually stop to wonder why she locked Deep Storage. Just too caught up in the game to notice it didn’t make sense.

      2. Coming Second says:

        There’s plenty of Typhon outside too, and a Telepath is perfectly capable of nabbing minds through a vacuum, so being out there is zero protection.

        I got the impression she was eaten up with remorse over Abigail and failing to stop the Yus, and didn’t particularly want to go on living. Of course in reality she’s just one of the operators putting on Alex’s little pantomime, so who knows what happened with the real version.

        1. Zekiel says:

          But also I got the impression (or just assumed) that she was terrified of the Typhon which is why she won’t come back inside (and kill the cook herself).

          Which then explains why she suffocates, since presumably the spacesuit doesn’t Have an infinite oxygen supply. Yours presumably refills whenever you re enter the station.

          1. Jabrwock says:

            NASA spacewalks routinely last 6-7 hours. And we don’t know how long she’s been out there, do we? Certainly longer than Morgan, and in game you never spend more than a few minutes outside.

          2. Shufflecat says:

            This was my impression as well. At the time she went out there, the situation on the station was going very bad very fast, so she was thinking it would be way safer outside than in. Once outside, her access to information is limited, so she doesn’t know there are survivors successfully bunkered up in the cargo area.

            IIRC she also says her suit was damaged by a typhon after she went outside, which given how the suit works with survival gameplay options turned on could also help explain why she’s suffocating. She’s probably been camped out by an O2 station, gradually depleting it over the course of hours.

        2. Fizban says:

          And there’s the second part of what I was going to say- I’m a sucker for “a couple of girls met at a dnd game and need to get past their first fight” enough that it makes me want to grab those wheels of fate and reef them back into a position where they’re both still alive to reconcile because this Must Not Stand, since you’re apparently just a little too late. But then we get that recontextualization which shoves everything a bit further back, but also not really. Should I actually care then? Should I have really cared in the first place compared to “my” other more direct relationships? Do I still care anyway because the broad strokes still happened, when such stories are always happening somewhere?

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            This. Call me a sucker as well but I was all “aww” (and then “oh noes”) over roleplaying girlfriends in space*.

            *You already mention what’s under the tags but juuuuust in case.

      3. Smith says:

        I feel like any sympathy people have must be partially because of Sho’s actress, Mae Whitman. Who played Katara in ATLA, so she has loads of experience. It’s probably not all of it, but like Shamus said, good line delivery and performance has to help.

  11. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    I just assumed that once they took control of people the Telepath had them come closer to inject some explosive typhon goo in their skull.

  12. Ander says:

    Personal reading of the trap:
    It’s a gas that knocks out humans. Lots of things do this, albeit not reliably nor safely. He ran some tubes or whatever. Maybe he punctured some coolant lines and turned down those valves. Alternatively, it’s trying to flash freeze.
    Yu inhales enough to knock her down basically immediately, but not enough to kill her. She doesn’t really lose consciousness; the fake calls before she hits the floor and that leads through to him talking without interruption.
    He thinks Yu is dead or dying. He had no concept of the suit’s potential to save your life.

    I may have also assumed this was a game over state except I’d figured it out and stunned him after letting him open the freezer. Given the message, I knew the alternative must be survivable. I tried it out.

    Also, I figured he wanted Yu to die while attempting to get the reward (one less drain on food and the like) and didn’t figure out who Yu is until she left (but would have tried to kill her upon return regard less).
    Or he knew and thought the snipe hunt would kill her. I don’t think it’s necessary that he not recognize her at first. He clearly knows by the time the trap is sprung per the call he sends while he thinks Yu is dying.

  13. GoStu says:

    Re: Space Suits and Cold

    Space isn’t really *cold*, it’s vacuum – which is a near-perfect insulator. Solar radiation tends to heat things it hits, and people generate heat all on their own. A space suit actually includes a lot of provisions for cooling its wearer (as well as supplying a pressurized atmosphere, naturally), and heating is a lesser concern.

    It’s still kind of odd that this cook can flash-freeze Yu though. That’s a very specific amount of frozen to incapacitate immediately without killing. Your average freezer can’t do that!

    1. Damiac says:

      Yes, this. Space isn’t really “cold”, it’s mostly nothing. Vacuum. There’s practically nothing to absorb or emit heat in physical contact with the space suit. So convection and conduction, the two strongest mechanisms for heat transfer, essentially don’t exist. You’re surrounded with insulation. All you’re left with is thermal radiation.

      A human male generates ~120 watts of heat. A human male also has a surface area of 1.9 meters squared. If a human body was a perfect black body emitter, that’d be about 10000 watts of cooling, assuming 3 kelvin vacuum.

      As it turns out, human skin is basically a perfect black body emitter, regardless of skin color, with an emissivity value of 0.997. So the naked human in space is getting cold even though he’s surrounded by vacuum, assuming the sun isn’t shining on him. I’m assuming this theoretical human has perfectly dry skin, and his eyes, nose, and mouth firmly sealed, so as to prevent further temperature loss from evaporation (This is what would cause you to freeze in space).

      However, 10000 watts of cooling against an 80kg human male (That’s the average) with the assumption that the human has a similar specific heat to water, since we’re made of so much of it, comes out to 1.7 degrees C per minutes of cooling. Long term, you’ve got a problem, but this is actually much less dangerous than it sounds in the short term.

      Everything changes if the sun is hitting our naked astronaut. Unfortunately, this is where my understanding of exactly how the radiative transfer breaks down, because I get a value of 1.28 X 10^9 watts, which seems like it can’t possibly be right, or we’d burst into flames whenever the sun shone on us. That gives me an increase of 5625 degrees per minute, which just cannot be right. The sun’s surface is only 5600 degrees. Clearly I have something wrong here, so lets ignore this.

      So we’ll ignore the sun. However, keep in mind astronauts aren’t usually naked in space. So the emissivity of human skin doesn’t actually matter all that much. We’re concerned instead with the emissivity of the space suit.

      In searching for that value, I stumbled across this excellent article on heat transfer of an astronaut on the moon.
      https://commons.erau.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3073&context=space-congress-proceedings

      According to that, a space suit with an aluminumized surface finish has an emissivity value of 0.05. That chops our cooling watts down from 10000 to 500.

      This means an astronaut in a space suit, in complete darkness and vacuum, without any heating, is losing 380 watts of heat. This turns our 1.7 degrees C of cooling per minute into .085 degrees per minute.

      According to a study done for the US military, a fit human male shivering in the cold can generate 4-5 times the normal amount of heat. That gets our human’s heat output up from 120 to 480-600, overcoming the heat loss.
      https://www.nap.edu/read/5197/chapter/15#182

      So, in conclusion, based on my sloppy research:
      Humans are almost perfect radiators
      Space suits are really really bad radiators
      A naked human in space without sunlight is gonna get cold, but not flash freeze or anything crazy. You’d probably die of hypothermia long after you already died from hypoxia.
      A space suited human in space without sunlight will be chilly and shivering, but as long as they have fat and oxygen they will maintain thermal equilibrium. You will die of thirst, hunger, or lack of oxygen before you freeze.
      A human in space, with or without a space suit, in direct sunlight is getting hot. I have failed to calculate how hot, but the nasa document makes a few interesting observations:
      For an astronaut walking on the surface of the moon during lunar night, the conductive heating from the moon overcomes the radiative heat losses of the astronaut. The document says a space suited astronaut on the moon at night could safely explore for 2.5 hours before needing to cool off. This is due to the space suit’s incredibly low emissivity.

      During the day, the moon’s surface temperature is ~250°F. Thus we can probably assume a naked astronaut in the sun would reach a similar temperature, as both are close to perfect black body radiators, which usually is similar to absorbance (Emissivity is efficiency at radiating temperature out, Absorbance is efficiency at receiving radiation). This is obviously too hot for comfort, or life. Space suits manage this by having low absorbance values. According to nasa, an astronaut can spend 1.25 hours on the moon in sunlight, at which point his suit will be 60C, or 140F, which is pretty darn hot.

      The big takeaway is that keeping warm in a space suit in vacuum is mostly a non-issue. Even in the worst case scenario, you’ll just be shivering. On the other hand, keeping cool in a space suit is a big problem. So unless you can find a place to hide from the sun, you’ll die of overheating in your space suit long before anything else kills you.

      However, if you allow conduction and convection back into the picture, because we’re in a freezer that is decidedly not under vacuum, with a cold steel floor under us, you can see how easily our fragile equilibrium is broken. The flash freeze is still unrealistic, but the idea of a space suit protecting you from the cold of space, but not protecting you from a freezer isn’t out of the realm of the possible.

      1. bobbert says:

        I checked my references for you.

        The standard engineering approximation for solar radiation in earth orbit is 1353w/m/m (remember to use only the projected area from the view of the sun) (also, solar wavelengths are way shorter than normal thermal radiation, so you may need a new albedo table)

        So, something in the ball park of 450w of heat gain. You could get more or less depending on your orientation.

        1. bobbert says:

          If you are curious where your solar numbers went wrong, you need to multiply your cT^4 number (huge) by what fraction of the sky the sun occupies for our brave test subject (tiny). Both those numbers are hard to calculate well, so it is allot easier just to use the standard approximation.

      2. Philadelphus says:

        The sun’s surface is only 5600 degrees.

        Purely because I’m doing a PhD that involves knowing this trivia by heart and I will never, ever, get another chance to bring it up in conversation: the nominal effective temperature of the Sun as defined by International Astronomical Union Resolution B3 in Prša et al. (2016), is exactly 5772 K.

        1. Damiac says:

          Lol, so I used a temperature in K vs a temperature in C as well. So my numbers were all wrong. This means naked humans cool down in a dark vacuum even faster than I thought.

          1. Philadelphus says:

            I was actually surprised to hear humans were that close to perfect black bodies. Like, there might be classes of stars that are worse approximations to black bodies than humans are with an emissivity value that high. Pretty neat.

            1. bobbert says:

              To be fair, if stars were allowed to be made out of water and fat, they would have better absorptivity.

      3. Alberek says:

        So glad to see this comment, I had a similar moment of doubt when I was watching a Dead Space LP:
        “Wait, how can the monster be naked in space?” kind of deal. Yeah temperature has little meaning in space because it’s mostly empty and temperature is more of property of matter.

        I worked on a Low Temperatures Lab for my thesis, and liquid nitrogen can freeze things quite fast… but a freezer wouldn’t have that sort of death trap function!
        It would be really hard to make it in the first place, maybe you need something to dry the place first so there isn’t water that could freeze over the ducts?

        It probably sprays freon, I think it’s very toxic to breath and it’s used to freeze stuff (I think in industry? maybe some old refrigerators had that)

    2. Joush says:

      A space suit made for working in Earth Orbit is really, really good at protecting you from direct sunlight and radiating heat. It’s not at all good at keeping you warm. It’s made to keep you alive in direct sunlight more intense then noon in the desert at the equator. It’s also made to work in a low or no atmosphere envrioment.

      It would be -awful- at keeping you warm exposed to a moving fluid. It’s much harder to keep someone warm when in a moving -20 degree atmosphere at 1 bar then it is to keep them warm at -200 degrees and no atmosphere.

  14. houser2112 says:

    From the wiki:

    “Through Neuromods, Golubkin was given the culinary skills of Will Mitchell, the chef of Talos I. When Morgan first encounters Golubkin, he will ask them to retrieve a cooking award from Will Mitchell’s quarters. Golubkin probably inherited Mitchell’s emotional attachment to this award.”

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      The Prey Fandom wiki is one of those that’s active enough to be useful but not active enough to entirely prevent the problem of somebody editing their own personal headcanon in without indicating such. I’ve literally seen a paragraphs-long “explanation” of something that ends with a parenthetical that it’s only true if we accept certain fan speculation and not [actual canon source]. I’m not saying this explanation is impossible, but I do think it’s sus.

      1. ZekeCool says:

        Ugh, I hate when people do this. It’s sometimes tough to be sure if you are but I always get annoyed when I see people’s headcanons showing up on a wiki or tvtropes without even a mention that it’s speculative and not indicated by the work.

  15. Mattias42 says:

    Re: Sho & vacuum talking.

    Doesn’t she rest her helmet against the glass when you talk to her? Or did I just imagine that, because it made so much sense and would be a cool use of real science?

    Dead Space used that ‘trick’ quite a bit in its vacuum bits. You only hear the stuff you’re touching, because the vibrations travel inside your suit, and thus SOME sounds can be heard. Giving you just~ enough ‘info’ to be terrifying.

    Vividly recall smiling a lot at that scene because of the above. So few bits of media get that bit about vacuum, and it’s neat when it happens.

    1. Jabrwock says:

      Windows are frequently double or triple paned to aid in insulation, so that trick might not work. Then again, it depends on how poorly insulated the windows are I guess. I suppose you check to see if you can see the slight double image reflection that double-paning causes…

      1. Thomas says:

        I looked it up, and it appears that windows in space are quadruple-panelled (at least on the ISS), but not because of insulation. The outer most panel is to guard against debris, the inner most panel is to guard against scratches, and the middle two panels are to avoid pressure leakages I think.

        Windows are a big source of heat loss in space, but not due to convection, but because they can’t be covered in reflective material to prevent heat radiation.

  16. Vladius says:

    I never ran into either of these two NPCs. I wonder how I managed that.

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      It’s what happens if you do the voice sample quest without ever approaching the kitchen. The cook sidequest is actually a end-run around the “real” quest, as it lets you find Danielle and just get her password instead of having to imitate her with a deepfake.

  17. The game is sporting enough to give you several clues that he’s a fake:

    This is part of why the generally-bad writing in games annoys me. I’d like to experience these sorts of moments. But I’m so burnt out by all the times in the past I tried to use logic like this, only for it to totally fail, that it generally takes me a good half of the game to finally notice over my extreme prejudice that the game is well written and I can use that logic.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Mileage varies but I think even accounting for the overall standard of video game writing this particular case is unsubtle enough for the player to figure out the game is communicating the guy is off. I don’t think I made the “escaped convict” connection until later, maybe not even until the point where the game spells it out for you, but I immediately thought something like “oh, this guy is gonna be eating people or something”.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        The game is also sporting enough that it doesn’t really punish you for falling for his trap. Sure, you might feel stupid, but it’s not that hard to break out of the freezer and you do get to loot the bodies in there as promised.

        Thing is, if he’s alive he places traps around the station, which can be viewed either as a) really annoying and/or b) free Recycler Charges for players who spot them.

  18. Chris says:

    The knockdown apparently killing you reminds me of skyrim. There, if you get hit by a dragon blast ability of a draughr, it will go in third person and show your body ragdolling. Now it also does that if you die, so i thought if you got hit you would just die. But instead you go into 3rd person ragdoll view, then after youve come to a standstill, you go back to 1st person mode.
    I thought i just got one-shot and immediately went to the menu to load a save, and thought those draughr were just powerful.

    1. Syal says:

      Not helped by there also being draugr that actually do one-shot you.

  19. Mye says:

    It’s doubtful telepath can only control people with neuromod since they tested them on volunteer and I don’t see them installing neuromod on volunteer.

    Sho is… kinda weird. I do think she was supposed to come off as sympathetic but flawed character, but they upped her mood swing too much. One minute she dumb her girlfriend over nothing, the next she’s so heartbroken about losing her, she choose to suffocate alone in space. They could have at least get her to re group with the survivor. The voice activation lock is very game-y, I guess the most generous explanation is that she doesn’t know much about the typhoon and they could maybe find a way trough the door so she voice lock it before realizing that there were some already in deep storage.

    1. Fizban says:

      I don’t know exactly how long those audiologs are supposed to have been taken over, but I’m pretty sure it’s not all in one night. A few days at minimum, probably more like a week, or even multiple weeks (the emails surrounding them and the dnd game could probably source all the dates).

  20. Sniped Nerd says:

    I’m not totally sure what causes the head explosion. I mean, it’s obvious the Telepath monster triggers it, but I don’t think that human brain matter is particularly combustible. The game hints that this explosion is extremely violent. The head basically vaporizes and turns the skull fragments into shrapnel. This doesn’t seem like a natural extension of the telepath’s ability to manipulate minds.

    So I thought “what about causing a steam explosion by heating up the brain with synapse firing” and got kinda nerd sniped. Here’s the analysis:

    Let’s say that Telepaths manipulate the mind by techno-magically causing synapses to fire. According to this:

    [I had to remove all links from my comment so it wouldn’t get spam filtered]

    A synapse fires, on average, .16 times per second, but is capable of firing up to 1000 times a second. The human brain normally uses about 20 Watts of power. Let’s say power consumption is proportional to synapse fire rate. If the Telepath can make every synapse fire at 1000 times a second, then that’s (1000/.16 =) 6250 times the power consumption. Multiplying that by 20 Watts gives a new power output of 125kW. Now, the human brain is 77-78% water according to this:

    [I had to remove all links from my comment so it wouldn’t get spam filtered]

    And Wikipedia says the human brain typically weighs 1.2-1.4kg, call it 1.3kg. That means there is 1.3*.77 = 1 kg of water in the brain, which is pretty convenient. It takes 4200 joules of energy to raise 1kg of water 1 degree Celsius (see specific heat capacity of water from Wikipedia). 165kW means 165000 joules per second, so the temperatures would rise 165000/4200 = 39.2 degrees Celsius every second. Room temperature is 20C, water’s boiling point is 100C, and it rises about 40C every second, so in 2 seconds your brain would start to boil.

    That’s slow enough that whether an explosion would occur really depends on how well the skull can keep in pressure such that it bursts in an explosion instead of, say, venting the steam. The amount of pressure it takes to fracture the skull depends on how long that pressure is applied, but looking at this paper:

    [I had to remove all links from my comment so it wouldn’t get spam filtered]

    Now I could definitely be getting the following wrong. But it seems there’s a 50% chance of fracture at .15 strain. The Young’s Modulus is the amount of stress (which I believe is equivalent to pressure in this case) per strain and is 16 GPa for the skull which means a pressure of 16*.15 = 2.4GPa of pressure. I did a little sanity check and found a typical hammer blow has a pressure of very roughly 1 GPa so that checks out. Taking everyone’s favorite PV=nRT, which means (pressure*volume) = amount_of_stuff_in_moles*gas_constant*temperature, we can move variables around to get the temperature of the corresponding steam so that the formula is now T = PV/nR. For n (the amount of moles of the stuff), steam has about 18 grams per mole so ((1000 grams of water)/(18 grams per mole)) = 55.5 moles, the skull has a volume of 1200 cm^3 (Wikipedia), the pressure we already established is 2.4 GPa, so plugging all of that in, we get a temperature of 6240K.

    Now to get the energy of the explosion, we need to know how much thermal energy the steam contains. We can get that with the specific heat capacity of steam which is how much energy it takes to raise a given amount of mass of steam a given amount of temperature. For steam it’s 2.010 kJ/(K*kg), the temperature is 6240 K, the mass is 1 kg, so 2.010 thousand joules * 6240 Kelvin * 1 kilogram = 12.5 megajoule explosion. A kilogram of TNT release 4.184 megajoules, so that’s about 3kg of TNT. For reference this is what a 2kg dynamite (similarish to 3kg of TNT) explosion looks like:

    [I had to remove all links from my comment so it wouldn’t get spam filtered]

    Of course, it would probably vent out of the nose, ears, or popped out eye sockets or something well before then, but *waves hands*.

    But of course, we calculated previously that firing all synapses heats things up by 40K a second so (ignoring time to convert water to heat and the fact it has a slightly different specific heat capacity) that’s ((6240-293)/40) 148 seconds or about 2.5 minutes of heating, with no heat escape and the synapses magically still firing despite starting to boil 2 seconds in to it. So I can see your skepticism there.

    (I saved all the links in case there is some way to share them without getting filtered. Also I originally messed up the formatting (didn’t put in the line breaks right), so it’s possible it was that and not the links.)

    1. Philadelphus says:

      That accords with my back-of-the-envelope calculation higher up about the brain burning more energy from glucose in the course of one day than is in a stick of dynamite. The dynamite just releases it a lot faster.

  21. BespectacledGentleman says:

    Someone probably said it above, but the reason Telepaths don’t mind control Morgan is because you’re guaranteed to have a Psychoscope by the time they show up. Alex pushes you to get one for that very reason—it’s just as valuable a protective device as it is for research.

    As for head explosion—if the typhon draw energy from consciousness, then it doesn’t seem like a big leap to say that the explosion is just a conversion of “consciousness energy” to kinetic energy, same as the phantom’s kinetic blast.

    1. Syal says:

      Man, now I want to see the reverse of that; you can inhale an explosion to make yourself super aware of things.

  22. Zekiel says:

    The inability to challenge the cook is one of the most irritating things about this game for just the reasons Shamus lists. If you fall for his ruse (as I did) it all works reasonably well. If you are clever and spot the problem there is just no satisfying way to resolve the situation.

    I remember Tom Francis talking on Crate & Crowbar about this exact issue and how it enraged him.

    1. Jabrwock says:

      They could have set things up a bit so maybe you needed a code to get into the freezer, and if you just straight up shoot the cook you get the code from a note or something if you don’t want to fall for the trap.

      Reward the player for seeing the signs (or playing a psychopath).

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        The freezer is locked with a numeric keypad and you can actually ignore Luka’s quests and just hack it open yourself with sufficient hacking skill.

        I’ve never tried it, but I hear he reacts appropriately (which is to say he runs away scared of what you’re going to do when you find out what he did)

        1. Shufflecat says:

          If you have the strength upgrades, you can escape the freezer by lifting some boxes to reveal a crawlspace hatch that exits into the dining area.

          If you do this, you will return to the kitchen to find he’s already run away, and you have to track him across the station to an escape pod if you want to finish him off, with him taunting you over the comms along the way (I don’t remember if this was on a timer or not). This is what happened to me on my first playthrough. It sort of feels like a shame so many people miss out on that final leg of the quest.

          IIRC if you track him down but don’t kill him, he gets killed by a mimic that reveals itself in the escape pod after he shuts himself in there with it.

          1. Chad Miller says:

            If you do this, you will return to the kitchen to find he’s already run away, and you have to track him across the station to an escape pod if you want to finish him off, with him taunting you over the comms along the way (I don’t remember if this was on a timer or not).

            This sounds the same as the final leg if you fell for the trap, in which case it’s not a timer. Interestingly, I think this may be the only quest in the entire game that sends you to the Bridge before the ending, meaning it’s otherwise mostly seen by people corpse hunting on security terminals or otherwise wandering away from the story to dick around.

          2. Zekiel says:

            Oh yes that’s right! And that sequence doesn’t have a satisfying resolution either! You either just shoot him in the escape pod (an unarmed man) or you enter the pod with him and you both get killed by a recycler charge trap. Then you reload and shoot him.

            1. Gethsemani says:

              You can also disarm the trap if you’re quick, at which point he’ll deliver a monologue and then die. It is not a great send off either way and I think this entire side quest is among the weakest, if not The Weakest, in Prey.

              1. Damiac says:

                That’s the worst part. If you disarm his final trap, he just dies for… some reason.

                It is a bit tragically funny that his grand plan is to get to the escape pods… that at this point you know don’t even work.

                1. Cannongerbil says:

                  It’s mostly so people who are aiming for the do no harm achievement can complete that achievement without this quest being a major thorn in their side

              2. Zekiel says:

                Gosh I’d forgotten that. It is so lame!

  23. Fluffy boy says:

    I’m pretty sure the people you save in Crew Quarters show up later when you have that big showdown against a horde of typhon with the survivors near the end of the game. I don’t know if their numbers increase for every crew member you save but I distinctly remember some of them thanking me for freeing them from the telepath’s control

    1. Dotec says:

      I don’t think it’s all of them, and I can’t remember if the game just hints that the other survivors may be in another shuttle elsewhere. I do know that Aaron Ingram – the guy you have the option of freeing or turning into Typhon food – will show up at the end if he survives!

      There’s apparently some trickery involved to make sure he actually stays alive and isn’t turned into a corpse whenever you’re backtracking through his area. But neat.

      1. Damiac says:

        From what I’ve seen, rescued crew show up on the crew finder dealy as “Safe”. They generally stop existing on the station, and I guess hang out is some limbo waiting for a shuttle.

        I wish they had gone deeper into the idea of the telepath being freaked out by the crazy chef. I kinda feel like they wasted a lot of potential there. The phantoms talk to you, why not have the telepath trying to talk you into joining or asking why you are fighting? Or have it comment that you’ve got a sick mind like the cannibal, having an alien monster try to take the moral high ground would be interesting, I think.

        1. Richard says:

          There’s several audiologs and emails explicitly saying that Typhon aren’t able (or willing) to communicate with us, and probably aren’t even conscious.

          They just like to eat.

          1. Damiac says:

            It’s a little hard to mesh that with the telepaths controlling people though. I mean, I know it’s sci-fi magic, but wouldn’t telepathic control require something like empathy?

            Keep in mind, the telepaths were probably specifically adapted to deal with humans, so why not have this one demonstrate some concept of mind? Even if just to try to trick you into getting killed.

            But yeah, you’re right that it would contradict the “They don’t want to talk to us” thing.

            1. Dotec says:

              The DLC has a whole story bit with a Telepath, and they definitely communicate in ways humans can understand.

              Whether you should be taking it literally as depicted is another question, I guess.

              1. Chad+Miller says:

                The DLC Telepaths work differently from the main game’s though. Research notes actually spell out that a lot of the differences (Weavers not making coral and losing their shields, Telepaths gaining shields) are actual difference between the Talos and Pytheas Typhon and not just gameplay differences we’re supposed to ignore.

                The Andrius mission also contradicts the way the main game Mind-Controlled humans behave. In the base game, if you get close enough to hear them talking without fighting them, you get clear indications that the mind-controlled humans are well aware of what’s going on and want no part of it, but are powerless to stop it. They protest if sent toward Morgan and if they become aware of her presence say things like “Get away! They’ll make me kill us both!”

            2. Cannongerbil says:

              I mean, I know it’s sci-fi magic, but wouldn’t telepathic control require something like empathy

              No it wouldn’t, the same way operating the controls of a forklift doesn’t require something like empathy. A telepath basically hacks the control center of your brain through whatever space magic that allows them to do so, that doesn’t require empathy at all.

        2. Shufflecat says:

          Ingram doesn’t stop existing, nor does he move. I found that out the hard way in my current playthrough. I released him from the chamber, and he went into the guard station to stare at the wall while I looted it. I came back through Psychometrics hours and hours later in the game, and he was still there staring at the guard station wall.

          …At which point he got killed by a voltaic phantom that spawned into the test room behind us. Pretty sure it was after me, but the splash damage from its attack got basically the whole guard station room, so… yeah.

  24. Xsyq says:

    In my first playthrough I somehow came up with the idea that William had brain damage that somehow stopped the Telepath from mind controlling him and also caused his face to swell up. In retrospect the stolen identity makes much more sense.
    If you find and read all of Danielle’s emails you find that she’s head of IT on Talos and has been constantly messaging Alex about Morgan making an Operator (January) with unauthorized access to the mainframe. Alex just brushes her off. It makes some sense that head of IT would have permission to lock down the database and everything going crazy with Danielle not trusting the Yus anyway was probably a good enough reason for her.

  25. Shufflecat says:

    So I reloaded the game to check the Danielle Sho stuff, ’cause I thought I remembered some things you didn’t mention.

    I think you’re trying to analyze her situation as if this was a fully formed plan made by someone with a more information, time, and chill than she had access to in the moment. The picture I got reviewing the materials was that for her this was just a rapid-fire snowball of “oh shit” moments.

    Deep Storage doesn’t have an airlock. It’s strongly implied Sho left Deep Storage via data recovery pod because she was trapped in Deep Storage when hell broke loose on the station. Then she couldn’t get back in from the outside because of the lockdown initiated in the emergency (remember how you have to individually manually unlock all the airlocks from the inside?).

    She sent a few panicked “are you OK?” emails to Abby before leaving, and once she was out she left a voice message for Abby to try to meet her at the pool window. There’s no indication that she had a plan, just basically a 5 minute progression of “OH SHIT THEY’RE HERE! GOTTEGETTHEFUCKOUT!”, followed by “Oh shit, please let Abby be OK, PLEASE.”. Maybe she hoped Abby could unlock an airlock for her, but mostly what comes across is really wanted to know Abby was OK regardless of her own straits.

    She isn’t between the inner and outer hull. The pool window you meet her at is fully accessible from the outside, it just isn’t easy to identify without some cross-referencing, as windows from the outside look like metal hull panels, and that particular window is kind of tucked away.

    Her dialog when you meet her at the window is badly written. She starts out by indicating she didn’t know Abby was dead until Yu showed up, then segue’s into talking about the false cook, and finishes by saying she thinks the false cook killed Abby.

    It feels like canonically she was waiting out there for Abby, and only inferred Abby was dead when Yu showed up instead of Abby (because Yu got the voice message to meet her off Abby’s corpse). Like Sho/Abby and the cook weren’t connected quests at first, and this one was just supposed to be a sad scene. But then at some point another writer decided that the player needed more hints about the cook quest, so they went back and hamfistedly edited Sho’s lines to deliver them inserting a nonsensical inference about the cook having killed Abby that Sho has no reason to know or suspect.

    It seems unexplained why she couldn’t re-enter the station and join the survivors once Yu contacted her. Yeah, she’s running out of air, but I doubt she’d die in the 2-5 minutes it would take to get to any of the airlocks.

    1. Trevor says:

      I agree that the game was probably originally written with the Danielle/Abby subplot completely separate from the Cook subplot but then a later edit linked together everything going on in the Crew Quarters. I don’t think Abby’s corpse was in the freezer to begin with, but they wanted their two major Crew Quarters plots to intersect, so in it goes. Which would be fine if all the dialog were nicely knit together, but it is not. Danielle’s lines are kind of all over the place depending on what’s happened. Morgan doesn’t talk but somehow it gets communicated to Danielle if Yu killed the cook before going into the freezer (and thus avoided the trap).

  26. cannongerbil says:

    Although, that makes me wonder why the Telepaths don’t possess Morgan. I assumed her spacesuit protected her somehow, and Luka is wearing the same kind of suit. So I dunno if this counts as a clue or not.

    It’s the psychoscope which somehow protects you from being mind controlled. There’s a mind controlled guy locked up in the medbay when you visit and it’s mentioned that he walked into a testing chamber without wearing a psychoscope, and that’s how he got mind controlled. It lines up with the repeated warnings to wear a psychoscope before moving deeper into psychotronics, which suggests that it’s some kind of safety equipment.

  27. cannongerbil says:

    Re: the spacesuit freezer thing, it’s all addressed if you actually let the scene play out. The suit takes awhile to deploy the helmet when it detects hostile atmospheric conditions, that’s why you get knocked out but then continue playing the game not long after. You are also not actually at risk of dying, well, not from exposure anyway, the risk is that you’re now stuck in a freezer with presumably no way out and you’ll be stuck there until your suit runs out of power and you die.

    1. Alex says:

      That was my reading as well: the spacesuit didn’t react fast enough to prevent the initial exposure that knocked her out, but once it did, it gave her the opportunity to regain consciousness.

  28. Smosh says:

    The “incense” bottle is a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samovar – an old school tea kettle of sorts.

  29. Mark says:

    Is there any count for how many times Shamus has linked to the Mass Effect retrospective entry for Kai Leng?

      1. Syal says:

        Since people are still talking about Kai Leng, I’m going to link the recent Castle Superbeast podcast, which proposes the slightly different take that Kai Leng is both one writer’s fanfic and another writer’s punching bag.

        1. Also Tom says:

          There are times when I wonder if how people perceive Kai Leng is based on whether or not they came into the series with ME3.

          In the scene where he goes after the Salarian Councilor, if neither Thane or Kirrahe is around, he succeeds in killing him. This is the default setting if you don’t import an ME2 save into ME3. (Also, if Kirrahe is alive but Thane is not, Kai Leng will kill Kirrahe)

          In Priority: Horizon, I think the default state if you don’t import an ME2 save is that he badly injures Miranda, and he also gets away with the data TIM wanted.

          IOTW, new players saw Kai Leng actually succeed at his objectives, thus making his boasting less empty, while players who’d gone through the first two games as they were supposed to saw him fail at everything that he tried except for grabbing the AI on Thessia.

          1. Syal says:

            new players saw Kai Leng actually succeed at his objectives, thus making his boasting less empty, while players who’d gone through the first two games as they were supposed to saw him fail at everything

            …my god. He’s Schroedinger’s Loser.

  30. Laserhawk says:

    The medal thing: I recall reading somewhere that Luca was deeply envious of Will, as Luca fancies himself a cook and believes he should be an award winning chef, but can’t be on account of the whole criminal thing. In essence, he just wants to own a cooking award he believes he is entitled too. It’s been years since I played the game though.

  31. Alberek says:

    Don’t know if you are that much of a fan of D&D, but one of the older monsters are the myconids… this humanoid-like mushroom people. And a power that they have is that they release a special kind of spore and they can communicate telepathically with someone. They can also dominate someone’s mind on other stuff.

    It’s a cool explanation for a “psychic” power, much like how the biochips on Gibsons stories rewrite your brain with tiny computers and that gives you “powers to control” machines.

  32. Alberek says:

    Hey I’m getting a weird duplicate comment detected message?

  33. tsi says:

    Space suit or not, isn’t Morgan at least part alien according to the ending scene ?
    As such, shouldn’t she be more capable of handling the lack of oxygen or the cold of the fridge ? It also would explain her lack of speech. .. :)

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      The playable parts of the game take place inside a simulation based on “a reconstruction of Morgan’s memories”. There’s no reason for that particular plot twist to have an effect on any of the game’s mechanics.

      1. tsi says:

        Oh, right, right. I didn’t remember it correctly.
        So, if the memories fed to the player are reconstructions, since Morgan is presumably dead, then pretty much the entire game was either like a lucid dream or an augmented VR simulation. It’s probable most of the locations and events were (re)written for the experiment. I wonder which one.

  34. Dreadjaws says:

    Here is the one telepath survivor you meet. She begins talking to you from a pitch-dark corner of the room. (The only reason you can see her is that I’m shining the flashlight on her.) Also, she’s facing the wall? She begins talking the moment you enter instead of waiting for you to approach. So you end up with this seemingly disembodied voice talking to you from nowhere without warning. It’s uh… it’s not a great interaction.

    This was not at all my experience meeting Rani. I found her alongside the Telepath and its other victims inside the greenhouse. Ignoring the first time I failed to save her because her head exploded, once I dealt with the Telepath from outside I entered the greenhouse again and there she was, and only started talking to me once I got near her. The greenhouse is fully illuminated too. I don’t know, maybe it depends on the way you choose to battle the Telepath.

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      Yeah, this is how it happened for me too. I think the area Shamus’ screenshot is showing is the room where the GUTS first drops you off in the Arboretum, which makes it all the more baffling to me how she got all the way over there.

  35. Dreadjaws says:

    Despite these clues, I managed to blunder into his trap like an idiot anyway… But the worst thing for me is that this feels like a game over, when it isn’t. There’s a flash of pure red and a musical sting before the fade to white, which really felt like an insta-death damage spike. I associated that musical sting with death, so when I blundered into this trap I just assumed I’d died. So I opened the menu and loaded a save, not realizing that Morgan was knocked out and that I’d be able to wake up and continue playing in a few more seconds.

    Not at all my experience. While I figured this guy was sketchy ahead of time and that “trapping the hero in the freezer” was a very obviously telegraphed trap I still went along with it because I wanted to see what would happen. I also didn’t at any point think I had died. I don’t remember the musical sting, but I certainly didn’t see the usual flashes of red you see whenever you take damage, so I had no reason to suspect anything but a knock out.

    Luka is initially confused by Morgan’s nametag. He doesn’t recognize this incredibly famous company executive, when Morgan ought to be very familiar to him.

    Also, I’d really like to know why Luka Golubkin asks Morgan to go to Will Mitchell’s room and fetch his gold medal. Why would Luka want a sentimental item like this?

    See, the way I saw things, it really looked to me like he knew exactly who Morgan was the moment he saw her face, and he only pretended not to (note how every time Skillet tries to say who she is he beats her, as if he wants to make it look like he’s not informed). So, he saw Morgan, figured that he’d need some time to spring a trap and he sent you on a quest. Granted, I don’t know if you can pick up the medal before going to the kitchen, which would mess with this theory.

    The cook’s quarters are where you discover that Luka’s face and voice don’t match with who he claims to be.

    You can easily discover it before meeting the fake cook, because there are quite a few audio logs with the real Will Mitchell, which you can find before going to the kitchen area, and all of them show that a) he has a completely different face and b) he has a completely different voice, not to mention entirely different mannerisms.

    Granted, if you go into the game in a linear way you might not, but if you’re a lunatic who goes everywhere BUT where the game leads you to first, like I am, you’ll pick up this sort of thing faster. Hell, I had already the piece to fix the water in my possession when the fake cook asked me to look for it.

    About Skillet, I think it’s implied that her voice is distorted after all the beatings the fake cook gave her.

    For some reason, Danielle Sho locked the door to Deep Storage using her voice, meaning she’s the only person on the station that can get in. That’s an outrageous and absurd thing for her to have done… Moreover, it’s not even clear why she did it.

    Well, she was going through a break-up. She probably wasn’t thinking things through. Not excusing her actions, but from a character writing perspective it makes sense.

    I bring this up because you actually get the chance to talk to her. She’s stuck outside the station, but you converse through the window and she gives you the last of the audio samples you need to open the door to Deep Storage.

    I know I’m doing this a lot, but you can get all the audio samples without actually meeting her. There are at least two extra ones.

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