Prodeus Rapid Review
A non-doctoral thesis breakdown (for once) of a game that is just dumb fun.
Ever get sick of first-person shooters attempting photorealistic graphics while sacrificing fun gameplay? Ever want to go back to low polygon, early 3D models or even 2D sprites where your mind fills in the blanks? Ever just want mindless enjoyment for a couple of hours? If you answered yes to any of these, Prodeus might be for you. I started Prodeus shortly after moving into my new house. I didn’t have much time to play, didn’t have my gaming setup finished, and God of War: Ragnarok was quickly approaching (I strongly regret putting Prodeus down in favor of GowR… strongly). Unfortunately, this game was sentenced directly to my backlog to suffer an existence in purgatory. Typically, backlog games never leave the backlog. As adult gamers, we rarely have free time and when we do, we gravitate towards either the familiar or the big new release. Well, the stars aligned and I booted the Prodeus single player back up and played through completion. Shortly after, I dabbled in some of the community made content to see if anyone put the level editor to the test. I won’t be reviewing that because there is SO MUCH available and I’m just a man for Christ sake, but there is a lot of good stuff on offer.
*Disclaimer – I played the Xbox game pass version of Prodeus on performance mode (60fps) on hard difficulty as medium was piss easy.
What I didn’t Like
A. Let’s start with the story. Everyone who has read a BrendawnoftheDead review knows my stance on video game story, it’s not that important. But even I, Mr. Story doesn’t matter, have to admit that Prodeus is too light in the story department. I enjoy games like Classic Doom, Quake, and Dusk where the player is given context and environmental story telling does the bulk of the heavy lifting, but those games have Game of Thrones level plot & world building compared to Prodeus. For all I knew, the entire story of Prodeus is you are man with gun, shoot stuff that shoots at you and the blue guys have double the health. Google says the game tells a slightly more in-depth story found in text logs scattered throughout the game, but you are never required to open any of them and they are extremely easy to ignore. For many, this will be enough reason to never give the game a try but I’m here to tell you that is a mistake.
B. Reloading. Not every shooter needs these, stop forcing realism where it doesn’t belong! It kills the pacing, and it isn’t fun! In truth It’s not awful, the animations are generally quick, but it can get in the way during chaotic arena battles. Not every weapon reloads either, making this more puzzling. I think a Shadow Warrior 3/ Halo Combat Evolved backpack reload system would have been the best option here. Keep the animations in game but make them skippable for those that know what they’re doing when things get particularly spicy.
C. Save system… is weird. There is a checkpoint system but it doesn’t reset everything. By that I mean everything you killed prior to shadow realm banishment stays dead. This disincentivizes smart play as there is no consequence for death. Just keep plugging away until you succeed, no matter how dumb your strategy is.
What I did like
A. What Prodeus lacks in story, it makes up for in gory (Laugh at my dad joke please). This game might have the most over the top blood effects I have ever seen and your boy has seen A LOT. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that you can paint a hallway red with enemy blood to the point where you cannot see the path forward. It is done in a tasteful way (if possible) and by that I mean that it is comically over the top, like campy 80’s action movies. I find it unlikely that you will not laugh after coating an arena in ketchup.
B. Other than everything being coated in blood, what does this game look like? That’s actually a 2-part question because you have 2 options. By default, Prodeus uses full 3D but low polygon environments with sprite-based weapons and enemies. For those that don’t know, sprites are 2 dimensional objects that rotate with the camera to mimic a 3-dimensional object. This gives a charmingly nostalgic, yet uncanny look to in-game objects. The second option changes the enemies to low-polygon 3D models. To be honest, I usually prefer the low poly look in my boomer shooters because I grew up with Quake rather than Doom, but in Prodeus, the sprites seem to fit better. I can’t put my finger on it but using the 2D sprite option just felt better. This all might sound ugly by today’s standards, but the art style in Prodeus is bright and vibrant with excellent lighting effects. It looks like a game made on an ancient game engine with modern graphical effects. In short, I love the game’s aesthetic, chef’s kiss!
C. The combat in Prodeus reminds me of ye’old build engine games like Duke Nukem and Blood, but without the abundance of hit scanning enemies. It has many elements that I like; fast pace, fast movement, unique enemy types with predictable attack patterns, projectile dodging, and a massive/ varied arsenal. The only downer is reloading, but I tend to switch weapons as soon as my clip runs dry and the animations are rather brief anyway. On console, your weapon select function pauses time (I’ve always wondered what the enemy is thinking when frozen in time and suddenly the player character has a rocket launcher instead of a pistol) so you don’t have to worry about clunky weapon swapping mechanics of old time console ports getting you killed.
What I’m not sure about
A. You will probably not unlock every weapon during your first playthrough. Prodeus takes a page out of Half-Life where you have multiple weapon options for each weapon slot. You find the base weapon for each slot organically, but you can purchase weapon upgrades with ore found in the game’s many levels. Some are hidden in plain sight, some are hidden secrets, some are granted for completing challenges and speed runs. I can see the benefit of this system, as it gives the game replay value but it kind of bums me out that I might have completed the game without ever having experienced the best weapons and powerups Prodeus has to offer. How was I able to complete Prodeus without unlocking all the upgrades? Well, the combat in Prodeus is more about personal preference than necessity. Think Doom 2016 rather than Doom Eternal. Just about every weapon is valid in every combat scenario and you can lean on the weapons you are most comfortable with. That’s not to say that you can easily complete the game using a single weapon, but you probably can pick one of each ammo type and do just fine.
Ok I’ll get to it, is Prodeus my favorite Boomer shooter? No, it might not even be in my top ten (in no particular order Quake, Dusk, Doom 64, Doom II, Ion Fury, Doom, Unreal, Blood, Amid Evil, Duke Nukem, Shadow Warrior, etc.) but that does not mean I didn’t enjoy my time with it. I wish the combat was a little deeper and demanded that you use more of your tools, I wish more context to what the hell is going on was given, but it is still a fast-paced adrenaline spiking gorefest worthy of experiencing at least once. Prodeus is a 7.75 out of 10 and is an easy recommend to FPS fans with game pass or a spare 30ish dollars.