Decoding the truth of Prey's story and ending
Warning: This article will thoroughly spoil Prey. Read our full review for a spoiler-free take on the game.
Arkane’s Prey is a wild ride from start to finish, and now that the game has been out for a few week there’s quite a bit of speculation surrounding the ending of the game and many of the elements of the story along the way. Although the main questline guides you safely down the narrative, foreshadowing of late game twists and many of the hints leading up to the final end credit scenes are hidden in emails, notes, and various audio logs spread around the station.
Let’s take a look at what's really going on in Prey.
The Major Players
There are a number of personalities at work in Prey, and you’ll find hundreds of notes, emails, and audio logs to give you glimpses into their daily lives. Some of these characters you’ll learn to love, and others you'll probably hate, but most of the station's population (both living and dead) actually has little impact on the game's story.
While most of the people you'll learn about it the game are essentially just window dressing, a few serve as catalysts to crucial moral decisions each player is forced to confront before and after the credits roll. These characters serve as the primary moral touchstones for the player character, allowing you to unlock various endings based on your interactions and the level of human empathy you show during key events. There’s nothing keeping you from condemning them for their flaws, or hiding your own guilt by avoiding them entirely.
But they all pale in comparison to the Yu siblings themselves, who are easily the most mysterious and difficult to quantify out of the game's cast.
Alex Yu is Morgan’s brother and either the primary antagonist or one of the protagonists trying to save the station, the research, and the people aboard Talos I, depending on your perspective. It’s difficult to nail down his actual motives, and whether he’s a person to be admired or despised.
This is the result of several key factors, primarily surrounding the testing that Morgan experiences at the beginning of the game. A number of logs indicate that, despite the danger the testing poses to Morgan’s psychological state, Alex chooses to continue the tests indefinitely, forcing Morgan to repeatedly have his memory wiped, have new mods installed, and be memory wiped again.
It’s entirely possible that Alex makes this choice after Morgan’s psychic drift progresses to the point that he’s no longer the brother Alex grew up with, and that Alex considers him a danger to the station as well as a possible living, breathing example of the dangers of long-term neuromod exposure (something Alex would want to keep quiet).
The more sinister option is that Morgan’s psychic drift caused him to see the experiments going on throughout the station as morally and ethically wrong, prompting him to threaten everything Morgan and Alex previously built side by side on Talos I.
A quick trip through the Psychotronics Lab, as well as the recording of the death of Mikhaila’s father, shows us a Morgan that’s coldly pragmatic about the sacrifice of human life in the name of scientific progress.
In contrast, the audio logs present in the “Do No Harm” quest show a Morgan that’s obsessed with exposing and destroying Transtar. As a result, it’s entirely possible that Alex suspended the testing indefinitely in order to imprison Morgan and therefore protect Transtar and Talos I from the damage of a Yu heir opposing the principles that brought their family to power.
It’s also possible that Alex suspends the tests indefinitely because it represents a chance to continually test the Typhon mods in secret, using Morgan as the perfect perpetually looping guinea pig. Or maybe Alex is just jealous of Morgan, and imprisons him in some kind of attempt to steal the spotlight from his younger brother in order to garner his parents' favor. He could claim that the testing killed or otherwise damaged Morgan’s mind, and quietly keep him out of the Yu family legacy.
Another possible theory is that Alex didn’t continue the tests at all—at least not with the real Morgan. There are multiple documents showing that people at least thought Morgan left the station to go earthside. This could be the point when Alex began to restrict Morgan’s movement throughout the station, or it could be that Morgan actually did leave the station after the brothers deemed the damage to his psyche was too intense.
If that were true, then it could be that the Morgan we play as inside the simulation is an early generation of the Typhon/Human hybrid testing that we see in the post-credits scene.
Depending on how you interpret these events, Alex Yu becomes either a cold, calculating killer, or a sad, tragic man watching his brother suffer the consequences of their shared decisions over and over again. Or maybe he’s neither, but it’s hard to find the “true” Alex underneath the complex veil of Morgan’s testing.
All we know for sure is that Alex seems to love his sibling, he seems to trust him, and he firmly believes that the neuromod technology they’re creating on Talos I is more valuable to the human race than any number of human lives. After that, who he is largely depends on how you interpret the evidence stacked against him.
Morgan’s identity is even more conflicted than Alex’s, which makes us wonder if the contradictory personality traits we see throughout Morgan’s testing are more of a Yu family trait than the result of repeated exposure to Typhon Neuromods.
Most players will have their own identity associated with the Morgan Yu they play as, something molded by their actions and choices throughout the game (and something that's played with thanks to the character's last name, "Yu"). Yet the Morgan we see before the Typhon escape is fundamentally varied and difficult to quantify. We see him display cold scientific analysis, cowardice, warm empathy, and even a willingness to sacrifice everything to protect the human race.
This variation is likely the result of the repeated memory wipes Morgan experiences throughout the Typhon Neuromod testing process. After every round of testing is completed to satisfaction the Neuromods are yanked out of his brain, resetting him to an earlier iteration of himself. The trauma of repeated Neuromod installation and uninstallation itself could explain why we see different version of Morgan throughout the title, but even more likely is the potential that the new Neuromods installed after each wipe are heavily influencing his thoughts and actions.
What’s interesting is that it’s unclear when the Typhon Neuromod testing began, which makes it extremely difficult to nail down the “real” Morgan. There are numerous employee accounts showing that Morgan has full access to Talos I even during the testing. These employees often express confusion at his sudden memory loss, which implies that once Morgan completes the testing he’s allowed to return to his room to review his previous memory logs, continue to work on other projects, and generally interact with others throughout the station.
This is also when he finds time to record the footage we see in the early portions of the game, and when he finds time to build January, October, December, and potentially other Operators to communicate with his future self.
We say potentially others, because there are numerous references to Morgan requesting operator parts multiple times, to such an extent that people started to complain. Based on the fact that January is the first month of the year, October is the tenth, and December is the twelfth, it’s possible that there were at one point 12 different Operators that Alex or January may have disabled once things begin to really kick off.
All we know for sure is that at one point Morgan creates January with the intention of destroying everything on Talos I to save the human race, he creates December so that he can potentially escape Talos I if things get out of hand, and he also consults with Alex to record a third option that preserves Talos I as well as everything and everyone on the station. These show at least three separate personas with distinctly unique motives and opinions on the Runaway Trolley question at the heart of the game.
It’s also clear that there was a turning point in the testing, where Alex knowingly extended the duration of the tests indefinitely. At that point most of the crew believed Morgan returned to earth, likely because Alex told them as much and no one’s in a position to question it.
A full Prey plot summary
So let’s talk about the story itself, potentially the most straightforward portion of the whole affair, right up until the final scene after the credits.
You are Morgan Yu, and as the game begins you seemingly wake up in your apartment on earth, about to embark on a journey with your brother to the space station Talos I. Except just as you complete several rudimentary tests, Dr. Bellamy, one of the doctors proctoring the tests, is attacked by a strange creature that shifts into the form of his coffee cup.
Everyone screams, the monster kills Bellamy, and you get gassed, passing out on the floor.
Fast forward a few hours and you wake up, except everything’s been reset like you never strapped up to go meet your brother. You’re contacted by an unknown person named January, and with his help you escape from your apartment–only to find that you’re already aboard Talos I and things have just gotten really, really bad.
January instructs you to escape the Neuromod Division where you were being held captive and make your way to your office in the main lobby. On your way there you encounter more of the alien creatures, but you and your trusty wrench take care of most of the danger.
Once in your office, January instructs you to watch a video from…you, of all people. The Morgan on the screen begins to explain that you were part of a set of tests to use Neuromods to blend human and Typhon DNA to take advantage of their powers, but before you can watch the whole thing your brother interrupts you and cuts off your connection to the servers.
You head to the Hardware labs and restore the connection, then return to your office in the lobby, fighting more Typhon every step of the way. The rest of the video plays and Morgan details his plan to destroy Talos I to contain the Typhon. This version of Morgan believes that you have to destroy absolutely everything to make sure that there’s zero chance of any Typhon making it back to earth. This means that you’ll also need to stay on the station when it detonates.
January then manifests himself as a robotic operator created by past Morgan to help you accomplish your goal of destroying the station. He gives you a keycard to give you access to more areas in Talos I and instructs you to head to the elevator to make your way to the Arboretum, and from there down to Deep Storage where past you stored a plan to create your self-destruct arming key.
Unfortunately, the elevator is out of service, so he sends you down to Psychotronics to access the G.U.T.S. and maybe pick up a few things along the way.
Before you can do so, you’re contacted by another Operator named December, who reveals that he’s yet another creation of a past Morgan, built as a contingency to help you escape Talos I. You now have a chance to work towards an alternative ending, which involves tracking down the key to Alex’s escape pod and potentially leaving Talos I without completing the task at hand. Either way, you find that you need to continue on your path first through Psychotronics and then through the G.U.T.S.
In Psychotronics you get your hands on a Psychoscope, which allows you to scan Typhon and potentially use Neuromods to unlock their powers. You also have a chance to view the first encounter with the Typhon, where early space explorers are attacked by Mimics who then use their bodies to create a Weaver–the Typhon that seems to control and create other Typhon–as well as the Coral, a glowing energy that acts like the Typhon’s neural hivemind.
The original Weaver as well as the spacepod are now contained at the center of Psychotronics, and you have the option to potentially observe several of the darker experiments going on aboard Talos I.
With Psychoscope in hand, you make your journey through the G.U.T.S. to the Arboretum–the leafy, recreational portion of the station. If you’re following the December Ending at this point you can make your way up to Alex’s office to continue your search for the escape pod key.
Otherwise, you make your way down to the entrance to Deep Storage, only to find that you’re locked out until you can recreate the password using audio transcripts from Danielle Sho that you can only find in Crew Quarters.
Using a keycard you find on a nearby body, you begin your quest to hunt down Sho’s voice. Things haven’t been going well for Sho and the rest of the crew, and many are either dead or gone. You have an opportunity to explore the quarters and even potentially find Danielle Sho as well as the audio recordings detailing her heartwarming but tragic love life.
If you find Danielle, she asks that you track down and kill a man disguising himself as the cook, because he killed her lover. This exists as one of the first major moral choices of the game. No matter how you take care of the cook, Sho remains outside of the station and it’s implied that she plans to float away until her air supply runs dry, committing suicide so she can be with her lost love.
With voice recordings in hand you’re free to head to Deep Storage. At this point, if you followed our guide, you’re also able to escape and see the December Ending, which reveals that not all is what it seems. Rather than a triumphant escape, it appears that you failed some kind of larger test, and you’re terminated.
If you choose to continue on with the primary plot, you’ll find yourself in Deep Storage where you’re able to recover and create your arming key. Except Alex isn’t a fan of this whole plan, and cuts off access to the other levels in the station by sealing the doors, trapping you in Deep Storage.
Fortunately, Danielle Sho contacts you and gives you an escape route – if you hide inside one of the server pods you can blast yourself out into space and make your way back inside through the cargo bay.
You jettison the pod but the force sends a server blade zinging to your cranium and knocks you unconscious. In the darkness you hear voices discussing your choices and trying to ensure that you’re fully able to access memories. It sounds a lot like Alex.
When you wake up and exit the pod you’re contacted by Sarah Elazar, Talos I’s Chief of Security. Apparently she and a large group of survivors are holed up in the Cargo Bay awaiting rescue. She informs you that you can access the Cargo Bay through the nearby hull breach.
As you make your way there, you catch an SOS signal from a nearby cargo shuttle and it’s revealed that Dayo Igwe is trapped inside and needs your help to return the shuttle to the Cargo Bay before he runs out of oxygen. This is another moral choice, and at this point you can either abandon him entirely, use hacking to open his container and kill him personally, or use the nearby docking terminal to bring his shuttle in safely.
Once inside the Cargo Bay yourself, you’re again contacted by Elazar who asks you to make your way carefully up to their secure hiding space in the Cargo Bay. She has the key you need to proceed but asks you to find and create a number of turrets to protect her people in the meantime, which means finding the fabrication plan to create the turrets, then restoring power to the nearby fabricator, or finding enough turrets in the area to satisfy her otherwise.
With turrets and keycard in hand, you’re able to either clear out the large group of Typhon and protect the crew, leave the crew to fend for themselves, or kill the crew yourself (if you're planning on blowing up the station, they're going to die anyway, right?). This is another key moral choice, and how well you handle the situation becomes important at the end of the game.
Either way, you learn that you need to make your way down to the Power Plant to reset the mainframe if you want to access the upper levels and the exterior of the station. So you quickly make your way there.
Along the way you find Mikhaila Ilyushin, Morgan’s once-upon-a-time lover who suffers from a dangerous neurological disease called White Noise that makes it impossible for her to use Neuromods, and that requires regular booster shots to keep her healthy. You find that you only have a few precious minutes to restore power to the system, so you can head outside to retrieve her medicine.
This is another moral decision, but one that’s much easier to complete if you approach this area earlier in the game when the airlocks aren’t closed off.
Either way, you can make your way from here to the Power Plant and reset the doors, snag the medicine, and make your way back hopefully in time to save Ilyushin (or not, depending on your choice).
You can now make your way to the Arboretum to confront Alex and get your hands on his arming key, but he asks that you hear his side of the story first. He promises that if you still want to destroy the station after hearing him out he’ll give you his arming key and let you proceed with your plan.
At this point, if you saved Mikhaila and Dayo they’ll arrive at your office and you can begin several optional sidequests to help them. Completing these quests are further moral choices, allowing you to reveal to Mikhaila that a past version of Yu was responsible for her father’s death and to find an important neural schematic for Dayo allowing people to play the music he and his wife loved so dearly.
Regardless of your choices in these quests, you’ll eventually find yourself in Alex’s office to hear his side. He isn’t there, but he gives you the password to his PC so you can watch another recording a past version of you made.
This recording details a plan for a Nullwave Transmitter that can potentially destroy the Coral and every Typhon on Talos I without destroying the station. Alex asks you to retrieve several scans of Coral Nodes outside Talos I to complete the data needed to create the device. He promises to give you his arming key if you still want it after exploring this option.
You head out into the cold vacuum of space and retrieve the scans, fighting Weavers and Telepaths alike as you go, but when you return to the office to upload the scans someone cuts off your network connection.
Your father has apparently sent a mercenary named Dahl to neutralize everyone on board Talos I and retrieve all the data relating to the Typhon research by any means necessary. You’re locked out of everything and your only option is to confront Dahl so you can continue the upload.
As it turns out, Dahl wants to force you to confront him, so he shuts down the life support to the Cargo Bay so you’ll be forced to meet with him or listen to the other survivors die. This creates several other moral choices that are dependent on some of your earlier options.
If Dayo is alive, he suggests that you neutralize Dahl non-lethally, which would allow them to remove a few of his Neuromods resetting his memory to an earlier point where he’ll be willing to pilot a shuttle for you and the other survivors to escape Talos I safely.
Additionally, you now have the option to let a number of the survivors simply die while you take care of Dahl and his hackers. The choice is up to you.
Either way, you’ll need to confront Dahl or his Operator to continue the story. Once everything is resolved, if you disabled Dahl non-lethally Dayo will help you reset his Neuromods and he’ll depart to prep the shuttle.
With the connection to the server completed, you can finish the upload and finally meet with Alex in person. He gives you the final portion of the plan to make the Prototype Nullwave Transmitter to destroy the Coral, but he also reveals that scanning the Coral nodes may have set off some kind of alarm bell in the network and the Coral was reportedly able to send a signal to an unknown entity in deep space.
As he’s explaining, an unknown Typhon mass warps into existence, presumably in response to those alarm bells, and attacks Talos I, knocking Alex unconscious.
At this point you have yet another moral choice, and you can either leave Alex to die or save him by dragging his body into Alex’s safe room.
You’ll find Alex’s arming key, a transcribe, and several other odds and ends on Alex’s body, and you’ll now be able to decide Talos I’s fate, either destroying it by activating the self destruct sequence in the Power Plant, or setting up the Prototype Nullwave Transmitter on the original Coral node down in Psychotronics to focus on destroying only the Typhon and the Coral. Alternatively, you can decide to ditch Talos I entirely using Alex’s escape pod.
No matter what you choose, you’ll find yourself at the Bridge where Alex and January (if they are both still alive) are arguing over your options. January still insists you blow up the station, and Alex asks again that you simply destroy the Coral. Depending on your actions, one will attack the other.
At this point, if you chose to destroy the Coral you’ll be forced to kill January, but with that bit of untidy kind-of-suicide out of the way you’ll be free to destroy the Coral, which will trigger the ending with a line of dialogue from Alex and allow the credits to roll.
Otherwise, you can head upstairs and detonate the self-destruct sequence, at which point you’ll face a final moral choice.
If you sit down and wait for the self-destruct to trigger, the credits will roll.
Alternatively, depending on your interaction with January, at this point he’ll potentially trigger a line of dialogue letting you go, despite the directive to keep you there until the station is destroyed.
From here you can sprint to Alex’s escape pod to escape on your own, or sprint to the shuttle bay to escape with Dahl and any of the other survivors that have made it this far.
No matter how you escape, the final scene will play, and Morgan will leave you with a final line of dialogue before the credits roll.
After Prey's Credits
As with many games, it’s important at this point to let the credits do their thing while you wait calmly in your chair, taking in the final moments of the story as Arkane’s staff names roll across the screen.
Once the credits are over, you’ll wake up to a final scene. The equivalent of a VR scope will lift off your head and you’ll find yourself surrounded by four Operators and a ragged, weary looking Alex Yu.
Turns out everything you just experienced existed as some kind of advanced simulation, and Alex laments that, “It probably thinks it was dreaming. That nothing mattered.”
Surprise! You’re a Typhon-Human hybrid, and you have been all along. Although there were numerous hints to this along the way, it appears you’re neither a human nor a Typhon, but a hybrid blending the neural structure of the two, stuck in a simulation of events on Talos I years in the past.
At this point, the Operators–which each embody the voice and personality of one of the people you could have saved or condemned during your playthrough–will evaluate and judge your choices, analyzing the results and judging whether they consider the experiment a success or not.
The simulation you were in was a reconstruction based on Morgan Yu’s memories, adapted to your Typhon DNA and layered over your neural pathways. It’s the reverse of what happens when a human attempts to use a Neuromod to learn to use Typhon powers. Instead of fantastic skills allowing you to turn into a stylish and functional coffee cup, Alex used human DNA to give you consciousness, empathy, bravery, and the ability to see other living beings in a new light.
Alex then spins you around to reveal that, in the "real" world, the Typhon have somehow made their way to earth, covering entire cities in Coral and likely nearly wiping out the human race.
You represent a possible salvation: a way to teach the Typhon to be human the way humans were teaching themselves to be Typhon. It’s the last chance for humanity. Alex offers his hand and gives you a final choice, to either kill everyone in the room or work with him to create a brighter future.
At this point, if you neglected the use of Typhon powers throughout the game, taking Alex’s hand will cause your arm to shift from black gooey Typhon jelly to seemingly human skin. If you used Typhon powers, your arm will remain the same but you’ll take Alex’s hand anyways, simply keeping your Typhon shell.
What does Prey's ending mean?
If you’re confused about the ending, some clarification is actually hidden throughout the game in small notes, audio logs, and the little flashbacks you receive when you install a Neuromod or take a heavy blow to the noggin.
You’re a Typhon, but not entirely. Past Morgan had a theory way back in the day that it was possible to imprint mirror neurons from a human subject onto a Typhon, allowing them to potentially learn to feel emotions, compassion, and various other human traits. The only issue was that it would need to mature over a series of experiences that would mold the Typhon to feel sympathetic to human life.
The plan was to use a Looking Glass prototype developed by Dr. Calvino to simulate these events, but ironically Alex Yu shot down the idea because of other higher priority projects on the docket.
Now, seemingly after the end of the world has come to pass, Alex is holed up somewhere with a working version of Morgan’s idea, codenamed Project Cobalt. Layering mirror Neurons, presumably from Morgan, onto a Typhon, then sending it through a simulation to guide these neurons to develop fully.
The result is either a failure–which prompts Alex and his Operators to terminate the Typhon experiment, hence what you see in the December Ending–or the player has managed to guide the Typhon through enough morally good actions to demonstrate a human-like level of empathy, resulting in a successful experiment in the eyes of Alex and his floating lab assistants.
The real question is how deep the simulation goes. Normally we would be inclined to believe that the simulation ended as soon as Alex removed the looking glass headset, but it would also be reckless for Alex to risk his skin every time he attempted to adapt the mirror neurons to a Typhon. It would be the equivalent of testing whether a lion was friendly after feeding it steroids and adrenaline for a week by scratching it behind the ear rather than sitting behind a safe layer of six-inch glass to observe the results.
Rather than taking his hand, it’s entirely possible that the Typhon could take the other option and rip them all to shreds.
Using this logic, fans have latched on to the idea that the tiny flash that occurs in the Nullwave ending is actually meant to hint that you’re still in some kind of simulation, a final test to see if the mirror neurons were actually successful or if the reveal would cause the Typhon to revert to their baser instincts and kill everyone.
This flash shows Alex and the Operators as they appeared at the end of the simulation, although seeing Alex is a little more difficult, which prompted some fans to think that maybe he wasn’t there at all. In fact, he’s just a little off the screen to the right, and if you move the camera slightly that direction as your vision pans you’ll see him clearly. The glitch occurs no matter how many times you play the ending, but only seems to occur having completed the ending by destroying the Coral using the Nullwave Transmitter.
This little glitch would definitely support the common sense assumption that Alex (or whoever is running this simulation) is keeping a safe distance away while they perform a final test. Although it’s also important to note that it could very well be just a bug (either in Prey or in the Typhon hybrid). There certainly isn’t any of the preamble we normally have to seeing the simulation glitch, so it could just be the game hiccuping slightly. The tinfoil wizard in us just finds this highly unlikely.
Of course, with that logic it’s entirely possible that the Typhon haven’t attacked or destroyed the world at all, and this final layer of simulation could very well be testing the Human-Typhon in an environment where it has no motivation to work with humanity. Showing that the Typhon were able to invade and take over means that this Typhon could be looking at the last remnant of human resistance, and anything short of a truly adapted Typhon would rip this human to pieces. There’s no reason for it to work with Alex except a sense of empathy for its fellow man.
At this point it’s impossible to tell which is true, and we're left hoping that forthcoming DLC (or even a full sequel) will shed more light on the situation.
There are a number of other big questions Prey's ending leaves entirely unanswered.
Where the heck is the real Morgan? We know he had to exist, but did he actually explode with the original Talos I? Is he somewhere else on earth? And what actually happened on Talos I? Did Morgan choose to go down with the ship? Did he use the Nullwave Transmitter to shut down the Typhon network? Did he manage to escape?
If the simulation is accurately depicting the real events we would assume that Morgan chose to use the Nullwave Transmitter or found some way to escape, because at the very least Alex appears to have survived. In nearly every other ending we experienced, Alex never had a chance to escape before the station went boom, as he was either unconscious or otherwise indisposed. So assumedly the Prototype Nullwave Transmitter is the only way he could have survived the events at all.
So how did the Typhon get to Earth? We assume that almost every ending was successful on some level in eradicating the Typhon threat, but if the end credit scene is to be believed then the Typhon were able to make it to earth regardless.
We could see this playing out in a number of ways. Either the Nullwave Transmitter failed, the explosion failed, or the massive Typhon structure that attacks Talos I at the end wasn’t the last of its kind. Alternatively, any of the moral choices the player selected that allowed humans to return to earth could have carried a Mimic or other form of Typhon to the planet’s surface (such as the fate of the shuttle Advent).
Our money is on an ending where the Nullwave Transmitter destroyed the Coral but didn’t kill all the Typhon, and anything outside a certain radius was unaffected. Alex is still on Talos I, alone, working to create a Typhon hybrid that will allow humans and Typhon to move forward together as a single combined species. Morgan could have died when the Coral was destroyed, either because of the Typhon mods installed or any other number of consequences associated with setting off a pulse that large.
At this point everything is just a theory. We won’t know for sure what actually happened until Arkane throws us another Neuromod to clear things up.
What are your theories and thoughts on the ending of Prey? Let us know in the comments below.