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Prodeus Review: Fast, Frantic and Damn Good Fun (PS4)

Prodeus is a fantastic game with a sharp visual style, fluid first person boomer shooter gameplay, an enjoyable campaign with a glorious soundtrack and naturally – blood. Lots of blood. Those who love Doom & Quake need to stop reading and buy this immediately.

Prodeus Review: Fast, Frantic and Damn Good Fun (PS4)

Prodeus has been created as “a first-person shooter of old, reimagined using modern rendering techniques.”  And it couldn’t be a more apt description. What is incredible is the amount of polish and imagination present in this game made by Bounding Box Software and music composer Andrew Hulshult. 

Prodeus’ full version was officially released on PC/Steam, Switch, PlayStation & Xbox in September 2022.

For those who love their First-Person Shooter goodness to be like Doom can see more recommendations from Paul Hang here.

Prodeus 1.0 Official Release Date Trailer

Story – The Prodeus Slayer

Prodeus is not going to win any awards in the story writing department; it’s not what were here for and knows it. However, it’s not bad either. Essentially, an asteroid rich in mining ore sent humans seeking to use it. Within the asteroid, a schism between dimensions was created, bringing forth Chaos……..and Prodeus. You are one such Prodeus being, able to process thought, and have decided in your infinite wisdom to destroy everything in your path, for the safety of the universe. I suppose.

What Prodeus should win awards for is its level designs. Naturally some are better than others; the levels near the beginning of the game – standard running & gunning, dealing with sewage plants, fuel depots, mining depots are decidedly grey looking, offset by lava or acid rivers. This in many ways makes you appreciate the more inventive levels. “Marksman” tasks you with travelling the level while always being out in the open against snipers. “Corruption” shows off the first human settlement which is built like a puzzle to open the centre. “Progenitor” is an excellent one, showing off the forces of Chaos and Prodeus against one another, with you in the middle. 

The main campaign has four maps of varying size, the first one naturally being the biggest. The others are much smaller but are more focused on dealing with Prodeus forces, making the second half of the campaign is a thrilling experience, with more emphasis on escaping.

Doing what he does best.

Doing what he does best.

Gameplay – Fluid, Complex & Addictive

While doing the main campaign, prepare to do what a 90s shooter did best – strafe, fire lots of bullets, keep an eye on the health and armour meter while scouring every inch of a level map for secrets.

World Map

First thing to notice and the games main negative is the very long load times. When loading the game, there is a long load followed by a quick load. It is also shown as the main loading screen for any level. It’s a weird design choice.

However, an interesting design choice is to provide a world map. Doom Marine, I mean Prodeus Agent, walks along to each level and the map itself is excellently detailed, showing off the craggy rock, fans, fires, green rivers, turbines, even shifting surfaces when beside a level. It’s pretty immersive, showing the player their progress even if it is a linear rollercoaster.

The beginning of your adventure.

The beginning of your adventure.

Level Design – Old & New

Within an actual level, gameplay is very simple – complete by collecting the rune and getting to the end to unlock more campaign missions. Naturally within each level are secrets off the beaten path, such as collecting health, armour & Ore. Ore is the precious resource of the asteroid and collecting enough would allow you to purchase weapons and character upgrades. There were a decent number of checkpoints within each level whenever you fell into trouble, as well as a 3D map to pinpoint your location. 

The levels are intricate, with a lot of thought put into their verticality. Certain ones had puzzles, like getting a train from one end to the other in “Fuel”. Another standout was “Gate to Chaos” where you had to keep “ringing the Bell”. “Trench” was excellent where it’s a big U-turn, with torrential rain as cover. While the game’s campaign is long, the latter half which focuses on the supernatural and escape is more exciting, also being more outdoor and weather focused. They had a good balance of being open while still guiding you to the exit.

Levels had buttons to open new sections and coloured keys to unlock new areas. Your main character movement is excellent and with the auto-run feature, you are always able to run & gun. It nailed at being very flexible and fluid. The best levels were the linear ones with a specific goal in mind. 

Character Upgrades

To upgrade yourself, you go to The “Shop” and it’s a level I disliked. There are practice trials you can do and you have to walk to the shop at the end and go all the way back to the portal. Very repetitive. The shop itself was very limited; there are plenty of upgrades – a double jump & dash being the best, but they are blocked by story progression. This was disappointing as lots of levels had hidden alcoves you were unable to reach, usually which stored Ore for you to buy said upgrades. Double Jump is required. The upgrades also needed a LOT of Ore to purchase. By the time I finished the campaign, I had half of the weapons available but did have the two main character abilities. 

The world map also has quick-fire trial levels where you will use a certain weapon to reach the end of the obstacle course and be able to obtain more Ore. They require expert timing and are satisfying to get right. 

Gunplay – Crunchy Fun

Still, what’s it like to blast enemies in the face?  Very satisfying as it turns out. They started out as your standard fare; zombie soldiers, hazmat units, soldiers with mini guns before moving onto Void Reapers which can spit Skull Fish at you. Then there are Slayers with horizontal/vertical attacks before the story progresses to include Prodean Forces which are a force to be reckoned with. They were much faster and deadlier, a good challenge when in a room with all kinds of enemies.

There are a variety of weapons and they never stopped being satisfying to use and had a useful secondary fire mode. Even the ordinary pistol packs a punch when you fire off a triple whammy. The shotgun was super satisfying, very robust and the Super Shotgun I used a lot for mobility. Grenade and rocket launcher were great for attacking swathes of enemies or aerial foes. Had a soft spot for the sniper rifle as well as the plasma rifle for its rate of fire.

Ammunition was initially scarce but manageable. With the number of enemies in a level, it was easy to use up ammo quickly – there were only five ammunition types and three weapons for each. One thing that got my attention was the reload animations – uncocking the super shotgun and replacing shells was very cool.  The other thing was the excellent draw distance – if you could see an enemy, you could almost always shoot it.

Say hello to my Mini Gun

Say hello to my Mini Gun

Co-Op and Community Workshop

One major feature of the game that Bounding Box Software champions is that there is a level editor for everyone to try. I will confess I haven’t really tried this out but it is very cool that the developers have allowed the fans to come up with their own ideas. The first one I tried was where the London Underground was overrun. Really enjoyed it. 

Bounding Box Software have also included multiplayer and Co-Op play should anyone want to join in. I have not tested this feature. 

When you've finish the campaign - try out the levels that players have made for some more fun.

When you’ve finish the campaign – try out the levels that players have made for some more fun.

Graphics – Stylishly Solid

From the first level, your first impression is that Prodeus takes pride in being graphically violent. Blood will splatter the walls, enemy limbs will shatter into pieces, bodies explode and blood cascades across the screen with abandon. The aesthetic of the world created is pretty special at times; whether it was an industrial setting or out in the wilderness, it was enjoyable to look at. The UI was unintrusive, being at the bottom of the screen. For the protagonist the screen is actually blackened at the edges, portraying their helmet which was cool.

Enemy designs were copied and pasted but their actual designs were very well done. They felt like solid objects to shoot. There was also a good distinction between the forces of Chaos and Prodeus. One main problem was the colour palette, where certain levels meant that enemies actually blended in with their surroundings. As mentioned, the level designs were excellent, and it looked great to see far away buildings, bridges, caverns and it’s actual use of colour at times was excellent. 

You better be careful with these guys.

You better be careful with these guys.

Audio – Addictive to Listen To

The games’ audio was also very solid. The guns all had a solid, crunchy sound to them. The shotgun and pistol, considering they are the “basic” weapons, were probably the ones used most often. I did enjoy using the plasma and sniper rifle though, much quicker and effective. They were all satisfying to use. Within levels, alarms blaring, doors opening and even things like rain were well done, with spatial awareness in the sound design being very good. Enemy death animation were very cool, where enemy limbs are blasted off, the blood squelches everywhere, peeling itself off the walls. 

What was especially satisfying was the games soundtrack. Andrew Hulshult should take a bow. The games’ main inspiration is Doom. His preference for haunting ambient music during exploration, then initiating a thumping metal soundtrack during the action pays off here. It transports you into a state of being.  A lot of the tracks range from a moody synth or techno vibe to balls to the walls heavy metal. The main trick is that it was very rhythm based, with excellent drums and base guitar. This allows you to take it in while pumping lead into foes. I genuinely suggest finding it on Spotify. Highlights include Slammed Input, Technological Terror, SinThyTech, Nether, Dark Matter, Decay. Listen to this soundtrack!

Prodeus was played and reviewed on PS4. 

For those who enjoy an old skool FPS and want a great time, this can’t be recommended highly enough. Bounding Box have nailed that run & gun feeling with excellent graphic & audio presentation throughout, accompanied by a cathartic soundtrack which propels you through an excellent campaign full of well-designed set pieces. This features some of the best gameplay since DOOM(2016) and for an indie title, that is high praise. Get it played.
  • Excellent Level Design
  • Solid Sound Design & Intense Firefights
  • Brilliant Sountrack
  • Very Enjoyable Main Campaign
  • Community Level Editor
  • "Shop" Level Design
  • Enemy/Level Design Too Similar at Times

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