The 90s may have been the era of guts and gore thanks to games like Doom and Blood, but if Doom 2016 proved anything, it's that there's still room left in the world for some excessively gory action games. Since then, several games have capitalized on classic shooters' revival, such as Ion Fury, Dusk, and Wrath: Aeon of Ruin. Now a new contender enters the ring as it finally enters early access: Prodeus. With more gore than even Brutal Doom managed to include, Prodeus doesn't lack in dazzling visuals, but as we get a complete picture of the game, does it live up to the legacy of the game it's aping?
If it wasn't already clear from the last time I got the chance to gush about Prodeus, the game looks stunning. Unlike many games that try to limit themselves to a particular gaming era, Prodeus isn't scared of using all of the modern bells and whistles that games like Doom and Duke Nukem 3D couldn't manage. There's proper mouse-look that doesn't make the textures freak out for a starter. It also seems pretty unlikely that any 90s computer would have been powerful enough to display this amount of eviscerated demon guts without exploding.
As old-school shooters inspired Prodeus, it has a lot of similarities to FPS games of the mid-90s. You move at a breakneck speed around the maps, have to collect colored keys to make it through doors and barriers, and you're carrying more guns than is reasonable. Much like the graphics, the gameplay of Prodeus has a few modern tweaks. Your entire arsenal can be viewed and selected from at any time, and while you're on the selection screen, the game is frozen around you. This means that you midway through an intense firefight with hordes of demons, you can freeze time to swap up your weapon.
That's probably the thing that makes Prodeus, so fun to play. There's a certain fluidity to the way you belt around levels like Sonic the Hedgehog, mowing down weaker enemies with your Gatling gun before spinning 180 degrees and switching to a rocket launcher to blast away a giant floating demon testicle. It makes you feel like some demi-god, thundering around the world raining death on your enemies. That is until you run straight off a cliff into a pit of lava, then you feel like a complete melon.
With extra speed comes increased chances to make mistakes. After the first couple of levels, you find yourself having to move around almost constantly to avoid taking damage. If you're not very aware of your surroundings, that can mean accidentally stepping into something that's going to do you damage. Still, I didn't come across any moments where that was immediately fatal, bar the previously mentioned cliff/lava incident. In general, Prodeus is more forgiving and intuitive than the original breed of FPS was.
The maps are well laid out and a lot of fun to explore. Far from being only made up of straight-up slaughter-fests, the levels have a nice variety of different challenges. You've got things like having to destroy an object while being attacked from all sides and surviving boss arenas, but one particular section stands out to me. Towards the end of the current batch of levels, you're plonked into a level where enemy snipers cover most of the outside space. You have to fight your way towards them, fending off hordes of enemies while keeping yourself constantly in cover.
It's when the game challenges you like this that Prodeus really comes alive. More than any other FPS, besides maybe Devil Daggers, the challenge is integral to what makes Prodeus fun. When you wade through the insanely well-made gibbing effects and hit the end screen, you'll judge yourself based on your results. There's a constant feeling of wanting to go back and perfect your runs. The game clearly knows this, too, since it provides some trials for you to do as side levels and even has an online leaderboard for each of the levels.
Much like the original Doom before it, Prodeus seems to lack in the story department. There are hints of what's going on from the level names and your character portrait, but there's no text scroll or anything to explain in more detail. Honestly, the lack of a story doesn't feel like that much of a handy cap. I'm more interested in getting my scores up and my times down than I am in whatever caused all this mess. By the time the game releases, it might even manage to have a more present story, but even if not, I doubt it'll be missed by many.
Personally, I can't wait for more from Prodeus. There's already a solid number of levels to play through if you include the extra challenges, and the gameplay and graphics are more promising than any other game of this type I've seen in recent years. With a full complement of levels and weapons, this feels like the sort of game that'll keep FPS enthusiasts busy for hours and hours. Let's hope that any new levels can keep the pace of new weapons, enemies, and challenges going. No game can survive on gibs alone.
TechRaptor previewed Prodeus on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developers.