Anybody who grew up on the old Doom and Quake games will be met with delight in this retro-styled FPS, complete with ultra-fast combat and demonic entities to destroy. Prodeus is a deliciously gory shoot-em-up that just left early access and is now fully developed with a proper campaign. As far as comparisons go, I noticed a large amount of inspiration taken from id Software’s very own pixelated demon slayer from the ’90s, clearly used as a platform on which to build the game upon.
You Look Familiar…
Everything you expect from a love letter to Doom is within the world of Prodeus. Demons that walk amongst the various levels in the game world are very similar to what you might find in a Doom-like (seems like everything is a ‘like’ game nowadays). First encountered in Sanctum are zombies and ‘fiends’, the latter basically being a copy and paste of Doom’s infamous Imps, throwing fireballs at the player from ranged vantage points. Prodeus’ own HUD systems display the health and armour of the protagonist, including a face-cam that disintegrates into a skeleton the more damage the player takes. The similarities are endless, but Prodeus enhances the traditional gameplay elements of such classic titles from the ’90s, reinventing the nostalgia felt by players old and new.
Just a Flesh Wound
Prodeus’ gunplay accurately creates flying giblets and precise dismemberment of all the game’s enemies. Zombies’ arms can be shot straight off, and the persistent buggers will keep coming, wanting to devour the player’s brain. Blood splatter will fly onto the player’s weapons and across the landscapes of each stage, leaving gory details all over the place. After death demons can still be shot, punched or blown up whilst lying down, leading to them being completely obliterated and exploding into chunks of meat in a grisly fashion. Weapon choices vary between pistols and shotguns, plasma rifles and grenade launchers and special Chaos weapons, like the Mammonth. Most weapons have a unique second-firing mode that demonstrates even more grisly ways to send demons straight back to Hell. As such, throughout my playthrough, I found myself using every possible gun for every scenario instead of sticking to one individual firearm. Storming through each level as a one-man army never got old.
Where Do I Put All These Guns?
There’s a handful of ammo types scattered around the world of Prodeus, including Chaos ammo, pistol rounds, shotgun shells and energy cells. Three weapons in each category use their own specified ammo type, which is strange considering how picking up rockets will help to reload the grenade launcher. Nevertheless, it means the player spends less time scavenging for 50 different types of ammo and more time using the available ammo to blow the limbs off their enemies. Special weapons can be purchased from the games shop, but don’t worry about microtransactions as each level contains ore that can be used in exchange for extra artillery. Not only guns but upgrades can be purchased, including a double jump and dash for extra mobility and that are essential for later levels with fast-paced combat.
They All Bleed the Same
Whilst speaking about the enemies of Prodeus earlier on, I forgot to mention how largely varied the enemy types are. Each individual enemy can be approached in a different way. For example, larger ground enemies can be easily dispatched with a shotgun dome-blast or three thousand bullets a second with the Shredders. Flying enemies may be best eliminated using rockets, and distant smaller enemies may be taken down with the sniper rifle. Boss enemies like the Slayer may require harder-hitting weaponry, such as the Mammonth or Super Shotgun. All in all, many situations can be approached in different ways, which makes for more diverse combat strategies. Later on, the player will encounter enhanced enemies that are blue in colour, taking the proceedings to a whole new level.
Not All Puppies and Rainbows
It would be easy to continue talking about all the things I love about Prodeus, but alas, many of the stages do become quite repetitive. Prodeus features various levels set in different dimensions, such as the Chaos and Prodeus dimensions, which have their own individual aesthetics. However, not much about the gameplay mechanics really evolve into more than simply running and gunning to the finish line. Each level will finish exactly the same way: find the exit, walk into it and move on to the next stage. There are no real ideas beyond slaughtering all those who stand before you, and sooner rather than later, you see the repetitive nature of the game.
Once the campaign is over and done with, players may access community-based maps in the multiplayer section of the game. These maps can be handy for tackling difficult or drawn-out achievements for Xbox and PlayStation players. Some of these maps are absolutely fantastic, including familiar environments like Princess Peach’s Castle seen in Super Mario 64. Taking cover from sniper zombies atop the castle ramparts is an experience I never knew I’d have. Strangely, I couldn’t find any functions that allow console players to create their own maps, instead restricted to playing maps that were probably created by those on PC.
Prodeus proves itself to be a well-represented love letter to the first-person shooter classics of yesteryear. Balancing out fantastic gunplay, rewarding exploration and tons of demons to murder, Prodeus definitely belongs in the Doom-like conversations that gamers will be having for years to come.
Developer: Bounding Box Software Inc.
Publisher: Humble Games
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: 23rd September 2022