Prodeus is the debut title to come from new indie studio Bounding Box Software. The game was successfully crowdfunded back in 2019, and an early access version has been launched on Steam. The game’s pitch is a 90’s era shooter with modern conveniences and all the effects cranked up as much as possible.
Prodeus’s main goal is to emulate the aesthetics and feel of iconic fps games from the 90’s such as Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, and Duke Nukem. In this area, Prodeus overwhelmingly exceeds. The game focuses everything on emulating this retro fps style, but with just the right amount of modern integrated. The graphics of the game are designed to look like their pixelated 90’s counterparts, but with modern HD rendering, textures, and effects. It’s clear that much work was put into emulating the visual style of retro shoot-em-ups. All of the environments and sprites are made of pixels, but with modern touches that make it beautiful. The graphics are rendered in HD, there is modern lighting, and particle effects, and much more. The game even brags that it is physically possible to paint every level red with the blood of your enemies, that’s quite a lot of care and polish from the devs. This game feels like a love letter to the genre of games it’s emulating. They also include the option to have the enemy and monster models appear as sprites (like classic Doom), or 3d models (like Quake). The only complaint I can make is the color palette is very muddy and bland. I understand the argument that it may be the aesthetic of the game, but much of its predecessors have a wider variety in colors.
Besides the visuals, there are quite a few other departments that Proedus nails beautifully. The over-the-top heavy metal music provides a good supplement when blasting your way through an army of demons. The levels themselves have a ton of care put into their design, and gives plenty of opportunities to find hidden secrets throughout each one. There are also a wide variety of different difficulty options, which range from being a breezy walkthrough to viciously brutal. Personally, I am terrible at most fps games, but even I was able to enjoy the game with a good amount of challenge in easy mode (not very easy, I’m not that bad). I may not be the target audience for this game, or someone who is a hardcore fan of the fps genre, but I can still appreciate what is being offered here. Any game that appeals to others outside of its target audience speaks to its quality. I always have to give credit where it’s due when you can tell the designers and developers really care about their project.
Despite emulating the look and feel of a 90’s action shooter down to a tee, it almost does it too much. The game lacks originality or any uniqueness that makes it stand out from its forebears. I admire when a game is trying to be a spiritual successor, but it has to build upon or add something to the existing formula to truly make it special. I’m confident if you took a bunch of screenshots and asked people to guess the game, almost everyone would say Doom. Too many would say how great that would be, but to me, it shows how even the visual design does not have much originality. As it stands now, Prodeus is a great version of more of the same in the fps genre, but with a touch of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, the success of the Kickstarter, and the overwhelmingly positive reception shows that. For the most part, the game lives up to its lofty expectations.
I think what is the absolute best thing that Prodeus has going for it though is a fantastic level editor system. It isn’t just a thrown-in afterthought; they really took the time to flesh it out. One of the level editor’s main selling point is that they made it very user friendly. It adds hours of content and entertainment on top of an already great base game. This feature allows you to be creative, or create the most brutal level possible to test your skill. The developers are also very active within the community, they even put out numerous contests for the map editor. The feature is really limitless, and especially fun to have your friend’s play your maps.
Credit must also be given to the fact that this is an early access game. I encountered no bugs or glitches while playing, which many AAA games can’t even claim. The fact that the game also has such a positive reception while being in early access is even more surprising, it speaks to how much the team really cares and is putting the effort in.
Score: 9 out of 10
Reviewed on Windows PC