Hallowed Be Thy Game: Prodeus Splices New with Old to Make a Stellar Indie Shooter
(Editor’s note: Let’s face it — most metalheads are a buncha nerds. To that end, Hallowed Be Thy Game is a weekly feature here on MetalSucks where we’ll highlight some of the metal-as-fuck board/video/tabletop role playing games we’re playing or have played in the past.)
I love the term “boomer shooter.” If you’re unaware, it’s a term — used lovingly or disparagingly — for first-person shooters (FPS) that hearken back to the old days. DOOM (1993), Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, and others tend to have a bit more in common structurally with boomer shooters than they do with the likes of Halo, Call of Duty, or Borderlands. In reality though, the sweet spot tends to be in the middle, such is the case with today’s game.
Developed by Bounding Box Software and published by Humble Games, Prodeus is the result of a successful Kickstarter project and the hard work of a team of industry vets with a deep passion for old-school gaming. Here’s an FPS with no regenerating health, keycards, and tons of secrets to find among the game’s cold, steel walls. Fast movement is encouraged to avoid all manners of danger, from environmental hazards to attacks from the motley crew of foes set upon you. At your disposal are the base campaign’s 13 weighty weapons, which you must switch between fluidly to ensure success.
Plot-wise, you’re a lone corrupted agent of Prodeus, the creator of the game’s world, and you must destroy it. Not much else is known aside from flavor text for each level and little lore bits found throughout the game’s nearly 30 levels. And honestly, that’s enough for a game of this caliber – all you need is a simple motivation to unchain your lizard brain to exact righteous fury on your enemies and enjoy this game to its fullest.
Taking cues from the likes of the recent iterations of DOOM and Wolfenstein, Prodeus is almost comically visceral. Like, goddamn, there’s a ton of blood here. Pretty much any of your weapons – yes, even your bare fists – have the capacity to gnash up the alien-demon things you’re fighting into pie filling. Using the all-powerful minigun or a grenade-based weapon ensures the map’s carpet will match the drapes, complete with blood dripping from the ceiling if it’s a confined enough space.
Speaking of space, there is a futuristic sci-fi aesthetic to it all. You are a man in a space suit/power armor-like getup, as are the humanoid enemies – likely former world inhabitants or workers who are now zombified or possessed and super pissed. The levels are sleek with miles and miles of metal lining the walls and ground, natural formations jutting out from landscapes that remind you that you’re an unwelcome visitor. Holographic screens and buttons mark points-of-interest, and, of course, your own arsenal ranges from the banal shotguns, rocket launchers, SMGs to more advanced implements of dismemberment and destruction like plasma rifles, a combination sniper/lightning gun, and a weapon that shoots globs of deadly goo.
Everything about Prodeus just feels great. Rock solid gunplay where every weapon has a sense of force and lethality, even your cute little pistol that you quickly outclass with shotguns and automatic weapons. Exploring is fun and rewarding – getting to nooks barely within reach or finding a hidden elevator in a wall is the type of serotonin hit I appreciate.
Just like its weaponry and gameplay, the presentation is a charming mix of old and new. While the general geometry of Prodeus calls back to early PC games like Quake or Half-Life, the hook of it is the sleeker pixelization layered on top. There are proper 3D models for the enemies and other interactables, but by default they have a menacing old-school look that provides just enough detail to be off-putting. Seeing the quadrupedal Lunger barreling toward you, its mouth agape for the first time is a pants-shitting affair. Lighting is great, atmosphere is strong, effects are plenty, frames per second are smooth and consistent (and my laptop is dogshit) – it’s all just married to a classic visual aesthetic that makes Prodeus unique.
As for the music, composer Andrew Hulshult nailed the entire experience with throbbing synths, booming drums that mimic a heartbeat, and industrial-based melodies that fill the space with equal parts dread and aural power. It’s a dynamic affair too – musical cues are triggered by action, incoming enemy hordes, and progression through levels to match the mood. Even if you don’t like Prodeus as a game, it can still kick you through a damn window via buying or streaming the soundtrack on Hulshult’s Bandcamp and services like Spotify and Tidal.
Prodeus is, simply put, one of the best first-person shooters on the market today, which is refreshing to see when more modern offerings are botched at just about every turn. If I had one complaint, it would be the game’s abrupt ending, but this game is still in active development with additional content on the way. More will come, and so will I! Until then, it has an in-game community workshop where you can download custom maps and campaigns made with its proprietary level editor by people much more talented than I. There’s also a no-frills arena-style multiplayer suite with classic modes like deathmatch and capture the flag.
Prodeus is out now on PC (Windows and Mac), Xbox, and Playstation consoles; a Nintendo Switch version is coming very soon. It being on Xbox Game Pass (PC and console) makes it a risk-free must-play for anyone looking for a shot of adrenaline behind the ear.