Predation is a great setting, with a very interesting background story, so even in case someone not too keen on Cypher System, as me, it is worth to get the book.
But what the setting book offers?
Predation is a kind of mix of various genres, ranging from post-apocalypse, hard sci-fi, to survival games, dino-riders. The basis of the setting is simple enough, time travellers sent back from our future for some reason into the late Cretaceous period. But then the twist comes from here from other similar concepts, the actual players are third or fourth generation survivors of the original time travellers, and because the time travelling stopped working, they only know the future from tales and legends. The are more natives to the Cretaceous period than to the future Earth. Some of the knowledge and technology lost through the time, but other survived, some became source of ideologies or religious-like movements. But one thing in certain, the doomsday is close by as everyone knows the original time travelling was aimed close to the day when the asteriod will hit Earth, and thus give space for the mammals to raise after millions of year of dinosaur dominance.
Cypher system is not included in the setting book, and you can't really use Numenera's rules keenly (except if you put a lot of effort into it), so if you really want to play it in Cypher System, better to get the basic rule book. However the book includes new descriptors and focuses, which fits well to the setting. Also it re-construct the original four character types into a more scientific setting. But the real new innovation is the companion system, which is very similar to the White Wolf's Wraith: each player's companion is played by another player (in Wraith each player's darker, tempting aspect was played by another player). I like the basic idea, however, while the companion system is well-thought, this is one I have the most problem with too (mind you I did not tested the system yet, did not run or played a game).
Companions themselves has some kind of descriptor to describe their personality, enough to start with. You also bound to choose the type of the companion, which is the general type of the species - like Raptors, Early Mammals and so on. Each would provide some basic stats and some advancement you could by for later. However these few types are not deeply descriptive - which is excusable - the problem is that the art suggest some nice companion type, so some exact examples would have been nice. But the main problem is the stats, which seems only influenced by some advancements, but largerly remains the same. As, for example, the T-rex is a legally open choice as companion, I found it a bit silly, that a T-rex companion's stat will never ever be able to reach the T-rexes as an enemy (hit points remains basically the same, with some possibilities to modify the damage).
The second problem is the lack of choice as a progression of technological/genetical engineering - which is supported as a theme, but for example rule wise I can't see a possibility of having enhanced brain and skill access.
I would really love to see some short of extension with extended companion rules, choices, and generally dinos, plants in a future product. I even have a suggestion of the style written as some short of study of the local flora or fauna.
I love the part of the description of the regions. It is not overly detailed, but gies enough to start with, ideas how the humans adapted to the new environment, as well as descriptions of the main settlements and regions. There are three major groups or organisation included in the book (with some mention of more local groups), all of them interesting, and exciting, and most of them strongly connected to the conflict of the disappearance of the time travel, and the upcoming armaggedon.
The maps are nice, but I see the problem being very small in a real print edition - I have the pdf and the small maps are enlargeable. Would be nice to make these maps accessable somehow to those having the physical copy.
It is probably worth to mention the Cyphers interpretation in this settings. Cyphers and Artefacts are usually something that the player get through encountering time anomalies - something that appeared after the last time travellers arrived and teh time travelling went bust. It is temporal genetic modifications, strange events, strange powers. I like that idea. I would loved to see some more details about these time annomalies.
And probably it is good to talk about the time travel here. While it is important aspect of the game, it is something that is not accessable, more as a plot tool, then actual game mechanism. Which is fine, and very atmosheric - while you won't need to deal with time paradoxes directly as the actions of players - the question of the nature of time travel is all there - what will happen with the humanity after the time travel was successful to Cretaceous? Why is not working now? Could it be the cause of the time travel? What would happen if the humanity living in teh Cretaceous would prevent the apocalypse and the mass extinsion of dinosaurs? Wouldn't that be a death sentence to the humanity to save the humanity at the present? Do the descendants of the time travellers have to die out to ensure the future and the birth of humanity or there is some way to survie, perhaps by restoring the time travel or finding the Eden?
I love the setting, and even keen to give a try in Cypher System, but otherwise I am sure I will use the setting book in another system.
[5 of 5 Stars!]