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There’s quite a few early access Steam titles I have my eye on. If I don’t buy them right away, I usually add them to my wishlist and check in on them every now and then to see if they’re receiving regular updates. When I discovered Prodeus, I was immediately impressed with what I saw and wanted to check it out as soon as possible. The trailer shows off cool-looking weapons, explosions, tons of blood, and just pure action. Developed by Bounding Box Software and published by Humble Games, Prodeus entered early access in November, 2020. The Steam page describes it as a first-person shooter of old, re-imagined using modern rendering techniques.
Like many shooters out now, Prodeus appears to be aiming for that classic style of play. What does that mean, you ask? It means, there’s a lot of running and gunning. There is an early access campaign available which is surprisingly longer than I thought it would be. It took me a little over four hours to get through. I was only expecting a few maps. You are scored in each map based on your performance and after completing one, you’re brought to a map screen. From here, you can play through any unlocked maps and view your loadout. Some maps contain runes and collecting enough unlocks new maps and portals to an area full of trial maps where you must shoot targets with specific weapons.
As you progress through the campaign, it will become obvious that there are features and mechanics that are missing. For example, it looks like there’s going to be some kind of upgrade system but most upgrades aren’t available yet. If you enter the input menu, you can assign a key to the dash function but it doesn’t actually work. You can walk, sprint, and jump. As you progress through a map, more of it is revealed in your automap which you can reference at any time and you can find automap pickups which reveal the maps in their entirety. There are numerous difficulty modes to select from and plenty of checkpoints scattered throughout the maps. Enemies can drop ammo and weapons when killed but they can also be found in the maps along with health and armor pickups.
The combat is fun and fast-paced although I do think some tweaking is in order. There’s a bunch of weapons to play around with and they each have their ups and downs. Some weapons share ammo and the game does encourage you to switch weapons often. Some are simply better against certain foes. The pistol is one of the first weapons you acquire and because of it’s excellent accuracy, it’s a great fallback weapon. Weapons do need to be reloaded which I don’t have a problem with but I feel like the Shredders, which are like submachine guns, should receive a mag size increase. I felt like I was reloading them more than I was actually firing them. Many weapons have alternate fire modes. For example, the Plasma Rifle can fire a homing beacon and the Arc Rail can double as a sniping weapon. Each weapon does feel satisfying to actually fire which is good and ammo is usually never hard to come by.
Prodeus features a good variety of enemies to blow away. Some hurl projectiles, some rush you, some are airborne, and others wield weapons. I feel like some enemies should move around a bit more. Sometimes I felt like I was shooting primarily stationary targets. Each map contains plenty of enemies to shoot and the further you progress through the campaign, the more enemies you’ll have to deal with. Enemies will often spawn in after you interact with something or acquire an item like a key. You can get ambushed and will have to run, strafe, jump, and shoot to survive.
In my opinion, the campaign maps currently available are well designed. You’ll shoot your way through various environments filled with multiple paths, corridors, platforms, and hazards like lava, toxic liquid, and explosive barrels. You will have to find keys to gain access to new areas and the maps kind of funnel you in the direction you need to go and there are secret areas to discover. Whenever I got stuck, it was usually because I missed a button but no map ever felt like a labyrinth. Where you have to go is usually pretty clear and enemies are an indication you’re going the right way. Maps can range from feeling traditional in their design, to vertical, to being more open-ended. One standout map has you being targeted by marksmen in the distance. For the most part, the difficulty does ramp up as you progress although the challenge does spike before the getting to the end of the campaign, at least in my experience. Enemies are spread out fairly well in most maps but in some, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. And if marksmen are thrown into the mix, one shot from them can drain a good amount of health.
Prodeus does come with a level editor so you can create and publish maps and campaigns. At the time of this review, I didn’t see many custom campaigns but there’s already plenty of custom maps available, and many of the ones I played are well designed. Just like the campaign maps, you can try for high scores and better times and even rate the maps.
I really enjoy the presentation in Prodeus and it’s got this grim and campy style complete with over-the-top violence. The game has a nice mix of 3D and pixel art and you’re given a good amount of options to mess around with including the choice to use 3D models or sprites. Enemies can explode resulting in a shower of blood and weapons can get covered in blood during combat. You can literally paint rooms and areas with the blood of enemies. Seriously, it gets everywhere. It’s pretty awesome. You can blow the limbs off foes and watch blood come gushing out. The visual feedback of firing weapons combined with the gore effects help make the gunplay feel extremely satisfying. Plus, weapons fire sounds pretty good. Most weapons have a nice punch to them. The soundtrack is full of rocking tunes that help make the action feel even more badass. On the technical side, I didn’t notice any bugs and only witnessed the frame rate noticeably dip once.
Prodeus is a grim, gory, violent, action-packed shooter and I feel like it has the potential to be a truly amazing game. Everything I experienced in this early access release has been positive. The gameplay clearly needs some tweaking and there’s obvious features that are not available yet but I have a good feeling about the future of this game. I really enjoyed my time with it. I am impressed with the amount of content on offer here. Not only that, but from what I played, it seems like the developers have a clear idea of what direction they want the game to go in. Releasing this with a functional level editor was a great idea because even if it takes a while for major updates and improvements, we can at least check out some community maps in the meantime. And from what I’ve played, there’s already some great stuff out there.
In its current state, Prodeus is fun but clearly unfinished and I’m a little on the edge about recommending it for it’s current asking price of twenty five dollars. If you don’t mind spending the money, I say go for it. If you’re hesitant, I would say wait for a few big updates just to see how its shaping up.