There are games where you can kind of guess the influences that have informed their development by closely analysing minor aspects, and there are games that proudly and without shame wear their influences like a flashy jewel-clad crown. No Matter Studios doesn't try to hide the fact that the PlayStation 2 classic Shadow of the Colossus heavily inspired the studio's upcoming adventure game, Praey for the Gods - they embrace the likeness, they strived for it. Despite the many similarities, however, the game feels like more than a love-letter to the beloved Colossus-slaying classic and not a rip-off, and there are some additions that make Praey For The Gods its own experience, keeping its identity its own.
Praey For The Gods drops you down into a cold winter landscape with little to no context as to why the character you're controlling is there, why no other people are around, or what you're supposed to do other than slay ancient, massive, godly beings for seemingly no reason at all. The protagonist is mute and the game offers no dialogue, making the atmosphere all the more endearing and mysterious, this being added to with the fantastic soundtrack of the game.
The Early Access version that we had the pleasure of playing had five slay-able gods included and all of these gave the player different tactical objectives for taking them down, some offering some puzzle-solving and some being straight-forward boss fights. There are few guidelines as to where you should be going first, so exploration and eventually stumbling upon a god to slay will most likely be one's only tactic. There's more to the tactics that one has to take into consideration while exploring, though. The harsh winter climate wouldn't be much of a threat if there were no survival elements added to the experience, so of course, there are some of those implemented to make sure the player stays on his or her toes throughout the game - one can never get too comfortable.
The player has three things to keep track of if they're not going to not fall dead on the snow-clad ground. You have to keep warm, fed and well-rested to be fit for the god fights and this can be challenging at times. The player can only take a nap at designated rest areas where there's a bed present, usually located in caves by a campfire. Food needs to be collected either by picking berries to eat on the spot or by hunting animals that one needs to cook later in order to eat, more effort put into food preparation makes for a better meal, replenishing more of your hunger meter and giving the player more health with each bite. As for warming up, this can be done by building a campfire at any time when out and about or finding a sturdier one in camp. The portable ones burn out really quickly and won't give the player the option to cook (while still using up valuable resources). Keeping your body in good shape does give the player some buffs that can be useful in battle but the meters deplete fast and having to drop out of a fight to roast some boar to perfection can be more of an annoyance than a fun mechanic.
As for the battles, fighting gods is pretty straight-forward and will feel awfully familiar for those who played Shadow of the Colossus. The gods are absolutely colossal beings, as one would expect, and all of them have some hairy bits that the player can climb on - and climbing is the main task when fighting a boss. See, even though you find plenty of weapons out in the wilderness, you don't really get to use them when they'd be the most helpful. Instead, the battles are built around climbing the beasts, finding their weak spots (that are glowing mechanical parts found on the body, the locations differing in difficulty to reach) and holding the attack button and tapping it once, prompting the character to drag a piece of the mechanism out and then quickly slamming it down again, creating a painful ripple of energy that flows through the body of the beast. This needs to be done tactically as well, as the player's stamina depletes when climbing and depletes even faster when the beast tries to shake them off, prompting the player to struggle to hang onto the God's furry bits.
Apart from the main baddies, there are also some minor enemies that appear out of the ground. Spectral ghosts, frost-bitten Viking-looking warriors, and frozen humans occasionally come at the player, making for some combat in-between the boss battles. These enemies can be taken down, albeit slowly, by punching them in the face enough times, but weapons are left lying around in the snow for the player to pick up. These weapons deteriorate and break fast, however, and need to be either maintained or replaced quite often. Clothing and gadgets can also be upgraded for various boosts to resistance and defence. Other than fighting off minions with your sword, axe or bow, there are other neat gadgets at your disposal. A glider made from a simple piece of cloth grants the player the ability to glide down mountains, while a hookshot helps the player traverse between different heights quickly and without climbing.
The ever-changing world that the game is set in offers plenty of secrets for the player to uncover as well with puzzles that are just longing to be solved, rewarding curious types for their curiosity. The way the world is built feels extraordinary and we enjoyed the time we spent in the cold, misty mountains. We look forward to returning there when more gods are added during the game's journey through Early Access.
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