Praey for the Gods is a boss-climbing open-world action-adventure game developed and published by No Matter Studios, a tiny team of three developers. The game was released on December 14th, 2021, and is available for players on PC via Steam, Xbox One, PS4 & PS5.
The developers invite daring souls to grapple, glide and grab hold of massive beasts as you fight to survive and uncover the secrets of a never-ending winter. Do you have what it takes to overcome the frozen wasteland in this spiritual successor to the Shadow of the Colossus?
“Ring the bells”.
The game welcomes you with this phrase, and it is the one you will encounter again and again, a key to understanding what is going on. Where the developers managed to nail the graphics, the music and the gameplay mechanics, the same cannot be said about the overall plot.
The story of the game is conveyed through the silent cutscenes and presented in various drawings and notes scattered around the frozen worlds as well as the prophecies of the Norns locked in their tombs.
The notes hint at what needs to be done and give tiny glimpses of what happened in the past through the shards of other people’s lives. However, trying to find them all for the sake of achievement is not the most pleasant pastime in Praey for the Gods.
Our heroine goes to the Temple protected by a wolf guardian to see a crypt featuring images of the bosses you run into. As you “liberate” them, more and more of the Temple opens up.
After the boss battles, the Wolf brings the protagonist to the Temple and wishes for her to “free” all of the bosses. Meanwhile, the Norns continue muttering their monologs.
The game features certain Survival elements such as the parameters of Hunger, Sleep and Cold. However, neither of the three affects the game in a grand way unless you crank up the difficulty. Even while being starved and frozen, the heroine is able to take on the bosses with a slight increase in her stamina usage.
If you play on the “Hard” level of difficulty, the Cold mechanic can actually bring about your doom. Any action uses up the warmth, and the higher the character climbs, the colder it becomes. Reaching a boss’ head, you can face storm winds and increased snowfall which will affect your game. While freezing the heroine will lose health, making the battle that much harder.
As you’d expect, the Hunger parameter is satisfied by food such as berries and mushrooms which also provides warmth. Bedrolls help restore fatigue. The game also features crafting, resource gathering and hunting.
Every crate in the game contains a number of different items and resources. There is also a variety of animals to hunt such as deer and boars. You can use their hides to craft warmer cloth – it will help you drive off cold for longer periods of time but also reduce your speed. And speed is incredibly important in the game.
The next important mechanic is stamina which is spent on any action taken by the protagonist, be it running, climbing walls, attacking. Anything you think of, it will take stamina to do – and there is entirely not enough of it.
You can find golden idols scattered around the world. Collecting three of those allows you to increase the heroine’s health or stamina. It is something you would want to search around for.
The game expects you to constantly pay attention to the status of your weapon, grappling hook, bow, etc. They tend to break after many uses.
Once your weapons start flashing red, it’s the game’s signal to let you know it’s not long until the breaking point. You can repair it using resources collected from gathering around the world or looting slain enemies. Even on Legendary difficulty, you wouldn’t run into any problems regarding resources.
The game features three champions, each of whom drops the best version of the hook or weapons in the game. And while the weapons are not that important, gathering the upgraded version of the hook is very advisable.
On the way to the 3rd boss you will run into the arena with the champion and it will not be much of a challenge to defeat it if you spend some time studying the creature’s habits.
Repairing a regular grappling hook and the legendary one offers no differences, both options require the same amount of resources.
The in-game world is not incredibly huge and can be explored in its entirety almost right after you are done with the very first boss. You will run into a variety of destroyed villages and camps while you explore the frozen wastelands of Praey for the Gods.
It is beautiful in its desolation, huge statues scattered around, steep mountains, valleys wrapped in snow and a number of caves to explore. A large number of riddles and notes with stories, a smaller number of enemies – however, each of your opponents will cause you a great headache. Encountering an enemy while you don’t have a weapon is a deadly challenge.
However, all of this splendor can only be explored on foot, there are no fast travel options or mounts available in the game. Only your own two feet and the glider.
The world is so open that, while exploring, you can accidentally stumble on yet another colossal boss that you are not ready for either physically or mentally. You are also in for a considerable number of dungeons, each featuring different kinds of puzzles challenging both your logic skills and acrobatic abilities.
The overall palette of the game uses hues of gray, blue and black, sometimes adding a bright spark of color. With its very appearance, the world of the game fills players with the sense of anxiety, oblivion and fall.
I’ll talk separately about the music. It is quite epic during the battle with bosses while the exploration is mostly done with a simple tune playing in the background. Sometimes there is a glitch where music disappears completely for prolonged periods of time with only the sound of the falling snow and howling wind to keep your protagonist company in the frozen wastes of Praey for the Gods.
The game features both normal enemies as well as bosses/colossi. The heroine is in for fighting against skeletons, skeletal archers, worms, ghosts and more in between the epic battles against the giants. When it comes to facing the regular enemies, the battle system is quite reminiscent of the Souls system.
Fighting against the giants is a whole different matter. The game is obviously heavily inspired by the Shadow of the Colossus, but there is a certain difference in the presentation and reasons for fighting.
In Praey, people arrive on the island with the singular goal to destroy the giants imprisoned there. Each giant boss has its own arena, complete with various mechanics. Sometimes you need to light 3 torches or ring the bells located on the edges of the arena, other times you need to force the boss into breaking walls with its head or even move the ring shackles across the monster’s body.
Every boss has its own unique pattern of behavior that is intuitively clear once you spend some time watching it. Additionally, the game hints at the places where the projectiles will land to help you out.
The biggest problem when it comes to combat is stamina. It is used up even just to keep the heroine attached to the body of the giant. Doing something crazy like climbing the body of a giant bird boss while it is flying around and trying to ring the bells is not an activity for the faint of heart.
The bells required for liberating/killing the bosses are scattered around. A few times I had to use the photo mode simply to locate them, for example during the battle with the giant bird and the giant worm. Crawling your way to the bells to ring each of them three times is the hardest thing in the game. Frequently the bosses will toss the protagonist off after one or two rings, forcing you to start the process of climbing anew.
The battles are built rationally, and if you follow the suggested route the game will prepare you in measure for facing the next boss. The riddles you will encounter on the way to the boss will show you the mechanics of the upcoming battle.
Of course, if you were to decide to face off against the seventh colossus at the very beginning (with the lore of the game hinting that it would be the boss right before the last one), then you shouldn’t expect a warm welcome. By the time you face off against him, the game expects you to have mastered your grappling hook, perfected evasions and be comfortable with using your glider and timing the seal activation. Specifically, that guy requires you to use absolutely every single ability presented in the game. And if you missed something, the meeting will be short-lived and painful.
That said, every boss battle is an extravaganza of music, visuals and feelings. The battle against Krogon, the giant bird, is still as enchanting for me as the first time I faced against it – and I killed it 4 times already using the “Echo” mode that allows you to battle the bosses anew.
Every victory is something epic, right out of legend. Like taking down an unkillable creature, the notes around which indicate that dozens of cooperating warriors couldn’t bring it down – and here it falls before your onslaught.
The difficult battles are rewarded by cutscenes demonstrating the “liberation” of the giant. With the world filled with doom and gloom and a general sense of unease, the battles against giants feel like a gulp of fresh air. And the victory is its own bright reward.
The game has many disadvantages and weaknesses, like a crooked camera and unresponsive controls as well as mechanics that artificially prolong the time you spend in Praey. However, it also has its own fair share of strong sides such as aesthetics and graphics, music and boss battles.
The way the game approaches presenting its story is a bit weak. Altogether it feels like the studio is trying to preserve the feeling and the legacy of the Shadow of the Colossus but is lacking experience. Despite its weaker sides, Praey for the Gods is a game worth playing and supporting its developers. Especially if you like pain and suffering… The Legendary difficulty will give you those aplenty 😉
Note: the game is a verified purchase by the author.
Similar to: Shadow of the Colossus