Prodeus is Doom in its primal form. It's a bloody and brutal shooter hearkening back to its old-school roots, in part due to its small team of veterans of the genre. It's clear from the start that developer Bounding Box Software knows their stuff, and they know it well. From the intricate and superb map design to the range of destructive weapons and oldfangled graphical style, Prodeus is one of the best boomer shooters to come out of Early Access -- and that's not being hyperbolic.
In Prodeus, you'll take command of a ruthless combatant on a wanton rampage against hordes of demons and other foes. Armed to the teeth with an arsenal of traditional and chaotic weaponry, Prodeus' old-school first-person shooting gameplay will take you on a helluva ride through the realms of man and Chaos.
Prodeus is Brutal, Full Stop
Like many other shooters of this type, Prodeus throws players right into the action with about one percent story and 99 percent action. Armed with nothing but your fists to start, the player sets out to bash demons in the face. Soon, your arsenal of weapons will grow and allow you to combat demons across the multiple hand-crafted maps in Prodeus. While there are plenty of foes to shoot, the real standout in Prodeus is undeniably the level design.
Not a single level in Prodeus feels as though it repeats the same idea. Hunting for keys to unlock a door can be exhausting in both 90s shooters and contemporary boomer shooters, but Prodeus makes every inch you scour a fun one. In between hunting for keys, packing enemies in surprise areas as well as opening up into arenas allow for fun, fast-paced bursts of combat encounters to keep you on your toes.
Levels range from industrial, sci-fi environments and later morph into something more alien as the fighting gets more intense. You'll hop through portals to new realms and even fight on an alien planet, with the level design literally morphing and changing as you progress. There are a lot of fun surprises in store and Prodeus takes you along for an intense ride, no matter what or where you're fighting.
To succeed in your fight, you'll need the standard tools of the trade. Weapons are overwhelmingly gratifying to use in Prodeus, with even the weakest pistol acting as a powerhouse against enemies. The standard pistol is one of my most used weapons in the game -- it's so punchy and accurate. Like any good shooter, there's a solid shotgun, and Prodeus delivers not one but three. The beefier super shotgun was my trusty sidekick most of the time. It's hard to beat old-school double-barrelled -- or in this case, quadruple-barreled -- shotguns over their modern counterparts.
Each weapon has an alt-fire mode, and while these aren't as intuitive as Doom 2016's elaborate weapon capabilities, each gun suits its own unique purpose. The arc rail, for instance, utilizes the power of chaos to shock foes at short to medium range. It's devastating in its own right, but the alt-fire mode shows why it's called a "rail." It blasts this piercing beam of red energy that can take out foes from far away like some sort of sniper. One of the more inventive alt-fire modes is for the plasma rifle, which shoots a tracker beam. Holding down the primary fire afterward allows for projectiles to seek out the target, even if you're around a corner. No matter what weapon I used, each one suited its own purpose.
The enemies you'll be tearing apart with said weapons all die in spectacular fashion. The variety ranges from your standard zombies, to fire ball-flinging imps, to more bestial foes that charge at you. Later on, you'll fight against a more alien-like group of enemies. While there's a decent handful of enemies in any given situation to keep you on your toes, enemy variety is a bit lacking. By the end of the campaign, it definitely got old seeing the same enemies over and over again, despite how much fun it is to face them. The aliens appearing, later on, don't differentiate themselves much from foes in the beginning half, since some of them are simply recolors of the same enemy.
While weapons don't suffer from the same lack of variety as enemies do, some guns are restricted behind collectibles. You collect ore hidden throughout Prodeus' maps, and this currency is used to purchase new weapons and upgrades at a shop. Upgrades range from a double jump and bandolier for extra ammo, which can shake your gameplay experience up a bit, but not as much as a new weapon. I wasn't able to use every single weapon in Prodeus lest it meant me scouring each level for collectibles, which is a bit of a disappointment. I see the incentive in going back and finding ore to unlock new weapons, but I prefer more natural means of obtaining new weaponry by exploring levels and finding secrets.
Prodeus is Designed with Care
In a discussion I had with TechRaptor's Features Editor Robert Scarpinito, he compares Prodeus' graphical style to that of Square Enix' HD-2D games. Games like Octopath Traveler and Triangle Strategy blend together old-school sprites and create this wonderful 3D environment out of them, and it's something I can't get enough of. This is an apt description for Prodeus, too, as weapons and enemies have this pixelized quality to them while the surrounding world looks polished with modern lighting and other techniques you'd expect from a game in 2022.
There's no doubt, Prodeus is a stunning-looking game. It's even more impressive to see the level of customization available to players in order to create a visual experience fitting their own preferences. You're able to scale down the resolution for an even more crunchy, pixelized look; conversely, you can turn off sprites altogether and have a more modern-looking game. Turning off sprites results in a seamless switch to 3D models for both guns and enemies. While I love the retro look, the option to tweak visuals is always a nice option to have.
Equally remarkable are the robust map-making tools available for players. It's clear that Prodeus is out for the talented crowd of map makers out there, and the developer offers a complex tool for those looking to leverage this. I wish I were the artsy type, because the options seem near limitless, as I've already seen. Someone made an uncanny replication of Princess Peach's Castle in Prodeus, for goodness sake. This reminds me of a time when I was younger, playing Spore Galactic Adventures, and experiencing other players' insane scenarios and creations. Needless to say, I'm definitely going to get a lot of my playtime in Prodeus from the variety of community maps.
Prodeus Review | Final Thoughts
Composer Andrew Hulshult brings the heat with an intense soundtrack. Hulshult is no stranger to the genre, so he's a perfect choice as composer. You might recognize him from Amid Evil and Dusk, but he really rose to fame for his work on Doom Eternal's DLC campaign. You'll notice notes of Doom flavor sprinkled throughout Prodeus' score. The soundtrack is more organized over the rather chaotic and unpredictable soundtrack of Doom 2016 and the base game in Eternal, but it never fails to pump me up. The soundtrack is reactive, so it's calmer while exploring and more intense when you encounter a bloodthirsty horde of enemies.
It would be a disservice to skip over Prodeus. Toting some of the best map design along with amazing gunplay, graphics, and sound make it a must-have for any FPS fan. Already, the developers are planning on a mini-campaign to follow up the bombastic finale of Prodeus. I, for one, can't wait to see what they bring to the table next. For the time being, I'm perfectly content scouring through the many community creations, meaning I'll be occupied with this game for a long time coming.
Prodeus was reviewed on PC with a copy purchased by the reviewer. It is also available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. It will be available on the Nintendo Switch at a later date.
- Map Design is Varied and Enjoyable
- Weapons, Alt-Fire, and Overall Gunplay is Satisfiyng
- Outstanding Visual and Audio Direction
- Map Maker Adds So Much Replayability
- Enemy Variety Isn't Significant
- Shop as Means to Obtain More Weapons