Some shooters are about learning the horrors of war. Some are about obtaining freedom through violence. Some are about finding and understanding the complex intricacies of life itself. Then there are shooters like Prodeus. In these shooters, there is only one rule -- if it moves, SHOOT IT.
With a demon dimension threatening to engulf the world you live in, it's up to you, a nameless protagonist, to kick ass and take names. It might look a tad dated but that is part of the charm.
The game is made to look like an amalgamation of early to mid-1990s shooters with a Mario 3-like hub world.
You can even lower the graphics to sub-HD in the options menu and change the enemy models from polygon to sprite-based to amp up the retro feel.
The creatures you fight may look a tad generic at times, but they do feel appropriate, given the nostalgic theme of the game going back to a time when there wasn't an ability to create highly detailed character models.
One of the enemies even looked like a Phase Tick from Singularity. This isn't surprising, considering that the devs who made Prodeus also worked on that game.
The levels are very well designed and bursting with a sense of wonder. Though, there was one instance in the campaign where I got stuck and couldn't progress, requiring me to restart the level.
This kind of, in a way, added to the unpolished feeling of it. It often feels like novice game developers crafted it in the early 90s.
Throughout the campaign, you will acquire multiple guns with different functions, which comes in handy depending on the firefight. Some guns you will find in the levels, while most have to be purchased.
Guns and character upgrades such as a double jump, a dash boost, and ammo increases can be purchased with ORE fragments. These fragments are hidden throughout the levels and many of which require the aforementioned power-ups to reach.
One thing that puzzled me was that after I purchased an upgrade that increased my ammo capacity, ammo became available to purchase.
I was a bit curious as to why it costs 10 ORE fragments. I thought that it would be an ammo upgrade to let me increase how much of that particular ammo I could carry. I bought it, and all it did was refill that ammo type.
Given how plentiful ammo is in this game and how rare ORE fragments are, why would you spend a substantial amount of these fragments simply to replenish one kind of ammo?
Design choices like this had me wondering what the developers were thinking.
Still, I thoroughly enjoyed shooting enemies and finding secrets.
Some levels did feel a bit drawn out, but they weren't poorly designed. It just felt as though they could have been split up into multiple stages, given that you can't add any of the items you've picked up to your inventory until after you have completed the stage.
My only real issue with the combat was that you can't just melee an enemy with your gun, you have to pause and switch to your fists. Considering the R1 button on the controller doesn't do anything, it would have been nice to add a modern touch to this retro shooter by letting you use your gun as well as your fists to bash enemies close up.
Also, once you get the minigun, the other two guns that use bullet ammo -- the pistol, and shredders -- become pretty much obsolete.
Though the ending leaves much to be desired, and it didn't take me more than 10 hours to beat the game on hard difficulty, there is a good amount of replay value for repeat playthroughs.
Sure collecting the resources to purchase all the weapons may be a bit of a pain, but it's still worth putting the time and effort into it.
It's evident that there will be multiple expansions to the Prodeus story with the way the title screen is set up, but I still felt like I got a satisfying experience with my initial purchase.
By combing the best elements of boomer shooters of the past, the frantic action of DOOM, the rugged look and feel of Quake, and the arena shooter layout of Unreal Tournament, Bounding Box software has crafted a fun shooter that harkens back to the old days while still feeling fresh.
While the noticeable drawbacks I mentioned keep it from achieving true greatness, I cannot recommend this game enough to anyone who wants to revisit the times when shooters could just be fun.
You can buy Prodeus on PSN here.