Reviews - Updated on April 6, 2022

Don’t you think that the gaming industry has begun to live in the past? Stretched into dozens of parts of the series, the exploitation of popular franchises with penetration into related genres, remasters and remakes, the return of the once famous game designers with the help of crowdfunding – invent something new and no one wants to take risks if there is a time-tested and loved by the audience project at hand or an idea. And that same audience is indignant because it is not pampered with new products? Not at all – on the contrary, it strongly supports such initiatives.

Prodeus, which recently appeared in Early Access on Steam, is another clear confirmation of the relevance of the thesis “It used to be better”. Retro shooters, to which this action movie from Bounding Box Software belongs, have already taken shape in a separate genre: no one is chasing new ideas and modern graphics in it, and fidelity (both in gameplay and in appearance) to the classics is put in the first place – in first of all, in the face of the famous Doom and Quake.

As we know, the return to the roots does not always go smoothly, and besides, the question arises: is Prodeus worth the attention of those who are not tormented by nostalgic feelings? Let’s try to clarify the situation.

retro style

Human memory is an interesting thing. The first experience, although not always the brightest, is remembered much better than subsequent ones. This is true for games as well. I remember very well my delight at the moment when I first got acquainted with 3D action games: at my father’s work, his colleague took a short break, shooting at crowds of monsters barely recognizable in a bloody pixel mess (later I realized that it was Doom). True, I didn’t manage to play it myself then, but even watching from the outside caused me a real culture shock, even though I was still a child at that time – I remembered these couple of minutes for the rest of my life.

Would I have been impressed by the original Doom at a conscious age, spoiled by photorealistic graphics and honed over several generations of games by the convenience of the interface and controls? I don’t think so. But a bunch of “Primitive 3D – cool” my brain remembered for a long time.

Prodeus game preview

The shotgun is quite drawn to the role of a weapon with which you can go through the whole game.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who still has such strong associations, which Prodeus developers also use without restriction. The graphics are deliberately uncomplicated: no one is ashamed of low-resolution textures, simple animations and primitive geometric models in level design. But this is not at all an indicator of the cheapness or careless attitude of the developers – on the contrary, this is their conscious decision for the sake of stimulating those same memories.

For those who do not have enough, it is worth looking into the settings. With their help, the retro effect can be enhanced: set a very low resolution and indulge in post-effects, which, for example, make the picture look like an image from a CRT monitor.

Nevertheless, traces of the modern engine are visible even at the lowest settings: pay attention to the lighting and the blood splatter of monsters on the floor and walls. The effects of explosions look quite bright, and the color range here is clearly higher than in shooters a quarter of a century ago.

Prodeus game preview

“Blood” is one of the hallmarks of the game.

Fantastic Beasts…

The references to the classics are not limited to one graphics: monsters and weapons also make you remember the games of id Software. Fists and a pistol, an irreplaceable shotgun, a six-barreled machine gun, a rocket launcher, a rail, a plasma rifle and a grenade launcher will help to smash a dozen types of monsters to shreds, among which you can meet old acquaintances: imps, pinkies, zombies and cacodemons. There is even an image of the main character’s face in the interface.

Arsenal, however, is not as simple as it seems. Weapons are divided into groups that use the same type of cartridges (as strange as it may look in the case of a rocket launcher and a grenade launcher), in addition, each model has an alternative way of using it – from firing in short bursts from a pistol to a homing beacon for a plasma rifle . Different types of monsters require a different approach – the same gun will come in handy not only at the first levels. Unfortunately, the set of guns is incomplete – early access, after all. However, what is there is enough not to get bored during the three or four hours of the campaign, which should also be replenished with new levels over time.

As for the behavior of enemies, they do not invent miracles of tactics, preferring to attack in the forehead, which is what they are beautiful, in fact. The only remark is that sometimes you can meet opponents who do not notice the main character. Shooting unsuspecting monsters with a shot in the back is not at all what you want to see in such an action movie.

Prodeus game preview

The campaign map makes it clear that there will be much more levels in the final version.

…And where they live

What does the player expect from Prodeus in the first place? Non-stop action, of course! And he gets it in full – there is always someone to shoot at and from whom to get hit or projectile.

This does not imply a corridor structure of levels, but there is no confusion in intricate labyrinths here either. Yes, the movement along the route set by the designer (for example, to open some doors, you need to find a special key) has not disappeared anywhere, but this route is built so cunningly that you almost don’t notice the limited locations. Opponents themselves become a hint where to go: if another enemy appears on the horizon, then, most likely, it is worth running there. Fans of looking for secrets will not be disappointed either – there are enough caches with ammunition or armor, and in some places you can cheat by cutting off the path.

Occasionally, the player is entertained with separate levels for high-speed passage or arenas, where the main thing is to destroy several waves of enemies. You can also find small references to DeFRaG runs, a separate mode from the Quake mod, which involves passing maps against the clock using tricks and jumps. The main driving force in such undertakings has always been the community, and not the developers themselves, but the creators of Prodeus remember this too – the level editor is already available. The community has created many amateur maps, including, for example, a remake of the first mission from 2016 DOOM.

The leaderboard for each level is a small but not superfluous reminder that the developers focus on the activity of the players. They reciprocate – most of the user reviews from Prodeus are only positive, and among the comments someone manages to mention the latest works of id Software with an unkind word. Has the reimagining of the classic surpassed the sequels of its progenitor? It is unlikely that Prodeus deserved such high-profile words, but this does not detract from its merits.

The gameplay is built in such a way that you have to fight almost without interruption. As a result, the already short campaign is passed in the same breath.

Do not look for a deep story in this game (in fact, it is not here, except for slurred level descriptions), modern graphics and fresh ideas. We have a concentrate of action that remains excellent, even if we put aside tricks with a game on the nostalgia of veterans of the genre.

Don’t you love the low screen resolution, Doom references and classic (who said outdated?) game design? This is not a reason to refuse to get acquainted with Prodeus at all: shooting heavy metal creatures is still fun, and the main disappointment is the (so far) short campaign.

4/5 - (1 vote)
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