Prodeus | Review – An exciting old-style FPS

Who I am
Aina Prat Blasi
Author and references

Before starting god, I admit, I didn't know what I would be found in front. According to the description on the Xbox store, the video game developed by Bounding Box Software looks like an old-school shooter inspired by famous works such as DOOM Eternal and Quake by id Software, the famous Texan studio that is part of the large ZeniMax Media family , former owner of Bethesda Softworks, acquired by Microsoft and the Xbox division led by Phil Spencer two years ago.

A collapsing world, shootings and many, many deaths. Once you get past the splash screen, the reception was brutal and savage, as befits a video game that captures the winning elements of the aforementioned titles. The welcome committee, which I hoped would at least show me the way out of that hell, was made up of humanoids surrounded by electricity probably angry about the expensive bills. And no, they weren't as friendly as I'd hoped.

Having become aware of the situation, I woke up and, as I opened my eyes, I found myself in a strange place and never seen before, and I breathed a sigh of relief, because at least I wasn't in hell. This was great news, and I sure as hell wasn't even on Mars. Looking closer, I wasn't even in a fantasy story where the Nazis won the war, impersonating a peroxide blond with Polish and Jewish ancestry who slices them with a hatchet, sowing panic and destruction among their ranks. No, none of this.

Il contesto di Prodeus

I'm finished, and I don't understand how it's possible, on an asteroid in the middle of the deep Universe, among the rubble of an ancient civilization and the remains of the human one, arrived to build avant-garde structures for the control of the Galaxy and entire systems. It's a projected future who knows how many centuries after ours: man has evolved, has solved the theory of relativity and understood how to travel at the speed of light without risking getting toasted due to a failed engine. And as happened a few years ago with Alien Isolation, he still hasn't lost the habit of wanting more than he should, thus awakening creatures, monsters and bestiality that perhaps it was better to leave to rest forever in the ruins of an ancient alien palace.

The protagonist, a silent guy who speaks the same language as the Doomguy, however, he doesn't let himself be frightened by the events he finds himself in front of and begins to shoot, running and jumping from side to side as if in reality all that was normal to the rhythm of heavy songs, dark e death metal, not using a chainsaw, but their fists to break glass, corneas and skulls. Because Prodeus, for those who have not understood it, is brutal, bloody and adrenaline-pumping, without giving up the classic dose of blows that is always useful when it comes to video games outlined by these characteristics. While presenting a context similar to DOOM and Quake, Prodeus follows a precise objective: propose a work that, approaching the classics of the genre, tries to tell a story without actually doing it. Speaking of the context built by the independent team, the title is a shooter that is told through its settings and its silences, although these are broken by shots, by the noise of the gears that annoy each other, and that open devices, doors and narrow corners , witnesses of ancient civilizations.

The walls, telling the old stories of a nefarious past, leave no room for further interpretations: humanity has passed through there and left evident signs such as wounds that are impossible to heal, which cannot be removed with a transfer, and which must be kept on display, so that everyone sees how the past can be violent. It is an asteroid, not hell or Mars, a place that once housed a mine that supplied the planets where humans dwell with raw materials through dedicated agencies, which work for the common good, as well as the whole galaxy. Too bad, however, this does not involve the protagonist of Prodeus, of whom very little is known: wear a helmet, a suit and has a personal story that you don't know and doesn't have time to tell.

On the other hand, he must shoot, survive and kill, vanquishing creatures of any sort, even the most perilous, demonstrating how violence is actually the only way to survive the oppression of a now irrecoverable universe. The cosmos is threatened by creatures that come from the very core of an asteroid: human beings have been too greedy not to notice that they have awakened a primordial power, capable of disintegrating any life form and setting fire to what remains of the humanity, scattered and never united again in the dark meanders of the universe. The work therefore embraces a sci-fi style that reaches its maximum, with an intriguing and powerful context, offering multiple interpretations in telling the end of everything, proposing it in an enjoyable way. We would have preferred, however, that the developers would tell something more about the protagonist, in such a way as to have the elements necessary to understand his real intentions and the main purpose of his mission in the right way. The only information we have about him, in fact, they concern the summaries at the beginning of each level, useful to fully understand what is happening.

Generic photos

If on the one hand there is therefore an interesting context, on the other there is a remarkable attention to detail for an independent studio which, in its first work, is managed to pack an exciting and precise experience, as well as able to offer an indirect plot that can only be understood accurately by exploring the production levels. Between those rusty walls, between those damaged pillars and steel piers, there is a past just waiting to be discovered.

Shoot, kill and repeat

As I mentioned before, Prodeus is a first-person shooter inspired by genre classics such as Quake and Doom. From them, precisely, the interface takes over, recognizable for anyone who has played one of these two works in the past. At the bottom are your vitality and shield, and to the side are your ammo. The only difference, in fact, is that there is no weapon wheel, but a special selector, easy and intuitive to use. The gunplay, on which the playful structure of the work is obviously based, it is excellent and varied thanks to the use of the weapons that you decide to use. If the shotgun is essential when the enemies are more numerous, the machine guns - which can be equipped in both hands - are attractive alternatives for massacring the automatically generated creatures in the various levels of production. In addition to being well implemented, the gunplay brings a continuous dose of fun to the gaming experience. In this sense, it's the rhythm that kept me entertained, with extreme clashes that are sometimes exaggerated, and with many enemies on the screen.

As I ran from side to side, scavenging levels of shields and ammo needed to continue, I worried about not being hit by enemies, who often pursued me with sudden and brutal blowsbut certainly by no means unexpected. In short, Prodeus is a fun shooter, built to enhance the player's skills as well as to meet the needs of newbies, maintaining an excellent choice between the various challenge modes, in total six, which meet everyone. It is a plus point that, together with the game design, makes the work unique and rewarding, offering an honest and clear experience, victim of some smear that, obviously, it does not undermine the rest of the production.

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It is clear that the inspiration comes directly from the works of id Software, and that proposing something original was extremely complex, especially if the development team's intentions were to resume the winning mechanics of Quake and DOOM. What didn't convince me are the Nexus Points, the checkpoints scattered throughout the levels which, unfortunately, they are in almost any room, thus giving the player the opportunity to never find himself in difficulty and with a loophole always nearby, perhaps helping him too much. Their presence, precisely, is extremely misleading at higher challenge levels, and the best way to fully enjoy the gaming experience is to try to balance it and opt for a middle ground before embarking on the adventure.

Outside of the clashes, there is also a map on which you can decide which path to follow: it's actually an extremely linear road, with story missions and others that can unlock or improve the weapons equipped during the experience. On some occasions I also dabbled in arena fights to hone my skills, subsequently dedicating myself to the main missions. Everything is built for the player to explore and study the level design of the levels: in this regard, each of them has been outlined with care and passion, prompting the player to collect collectibles to earn all the coveted objectives or trophies that are always tempting to those who try to wrap up every aspect of a video game. Furthermore, the production even offers the possibility of replaying all the levels and their sequences to search for the perfect final score, consequently increasing the various possibilities of approach, as well as the hours spent inside.

Pixel art has never looked so good

I admit it, I love pixel art and I think it's lucky that it has been passed down from video game to video game. Recently, several have been published: I am referring to independent productions and noble works, who use pixel art to better tell a context and a setting. Prodeus is a title made up of breathtaking places, and it fits this graphic style very well, offering more modernized animations than other productions that use pixel art. The eye, on the other hand, he wants his share and this small team, using all his talent, was able to offer a respectable graphics sector. The sound, excellent from every point of view, is composed of metal solos created for the occasion, that marry perfectly with the actions that are performed and with the atmospheres of the production.

  • On the technical side we have nothing to complain about, so much so that Prodeus keeps the sixty frames per second, and we didn't encounter any bugs or clippings, with fast loading times, throwing us right into the action without much hesitation. Publishing a video game is not an easy task, especially when you need to make yourself known to both the specialized press and the public and you need to make as few mistakes as possible. Bounding Box Software, however, has been able to use its skills intelligently, managing to recreate a doom-like capable of having its say, resulting in fun from start to finish. It is a team that, for sure, in the future could surprise with other productions. With Prodeus he just showed up.

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