Accessory Review: Afterglow Prismatic Xbox One Controller

AfterglowPrismatic_XboxOne_1

You’ve heard the expression style over substance before. Well for PDP’s Afterglow Prismatic Xbox One controller the saying goes more like style and substance, which is not something that can be said for a lot of third-party gaming peripherals.

The style part is totally front and center when you first set eyes on the Afterglow Prismatic. Its crystal clear transparent casing reveals the inner workings of the circuitry and rumble motors. This see-through design has been used in various single-color options in PDP’s line of Rock Candy controllers and PC peripherals, but what sets the Afterglow Prismatic apart from those offerings is its customizable LED lighting. The lighting runs a rainbow color cycle or, by pressing a program button on the controller’s backside, the light pipe settings can be changed using the analog sticks–the left stick controls brightness while tilting the right stick at different angles allows you to choose between a broad spectrum of solid hues. In case you hadn’t guessed already, I went with a bright neon orange lightscape, and it looks gorgeous if I do say so myself. (I would have taken my own photos, but I don’t have a good enough camera to show close-up detail or capture the lighting without being all blurry.)

An additional programing option also allows impulse lighting to be activated, which adds color flashes triggered by force feedback of the rumble motors / impulse triggers. A nice touch for a little extra flair.

If for whatever reason the lighting becomes a distraction, the glow can be shut off completely. Which is a good thing, because sometimes the lighting can be annoying to spectators, or if your gaming setup is in your bedroom and the controller’s left plugged in the illumination is intense enough to impede your sleep, lighting up a dark room as much as, if not more so, than an actual nightlight.

AfterglowPrismatic_XboxOne_2

That program button has one other key function that extends beyond aesthetic customization and directly enhances usability. Flanking the program button on the controller’s back are two programmable control wheels that naturally fall under both middle fingers when the controller is held. Each wheel, angled like forward and backward slashes, has three inputs–up and down rotation, as well as an in-click. With the program button activated to the proper mode, each wheel input can be mapped to the function of any of the controller’s analog sticks, D-pad directions, face buttons, or shoulders. That’s up to six additional inputs. Obviously personal preference and different game types dictate how these six potential wheel hotkeys are best utilized, but I found them to be especially effective for actions like reloading in shooters without having to take my thumb off the analog stick as would normally be the case.

While the overall case construction is sturdy, the button feel is responsive, and the analog stick resistance is snappy, the multi-function wheels don’t quite measure up to the same excellent quality. They’re not bad mind you, but compared to the other components they have that slightly cheap plastic feel that is often associated with budget accessories. It’s really not a huge deal, but sometimes the motion of the rotation and in-click mechanisms catches or sticks just enough to detract from the desired fluidity of the action.

The Afterglow Prismatic is officially designed for Xbox One, but as an Xbox controller it is potentially suitable for use as a PC gamepad as well. Unfortunately, in my testing I have had trouble operating the controller in Windows 7, which is weird because my other main PC gamepad is a Rock Candy Xbox One controller (also made by PDP) that functions just fine. I’ve checked for drivers through device manager to no avail, and attempts to manually install the Microsoft Xbox One driver have not worked for me. After poking around online, I have found some accounts from other users saying they’ve been able to use the controller on PC. So Windows functionality may just be hit or miss depending on the version, which means you’re better off buying it for its intended purpose as an Xbox One controller and then seeing if you can get it to work double duty for PC gaming on the side.

AfterglowPrismatic_XboxOne_4

Oddly enough, the controller has worked perfectly with my Steam Link, and I’ve been using it as my primary living room controller for Big Picture gaming. Yes, the controller is wired, but the 10 ft USB cable is plenty long to allow for comfortable couch play.

The Afterglow Prismatic sets a high quality standard for third-party gaming controllers, and it’s a far less expensive alternative to an official wireless Xbox One controller from Microsoft while simultaneously benefiting from extra features that replicate at least a small scale portion of the customization possibilities ushered in by the expensive premium controllers that have hit the market since the Elite. Seeing the Afterglow lighting at work in person is a thing of beauty, and all of the programming options are handled directly on the controller, without any need for additional software installs or background apps. That being said, a free configuration app will be made available for more robust options as far as saving custom game profiles and such.

A 3.5mm audio jack is on board, including a triangular audio button, located just off the southeast curve of the right analog stick, for direct mute/volume control as needed. The multi-function wheels could be a bit tighter, but in the end the extra functionality they offer only proves beneficial. This is an incredibly solid and well rounded controller that is comfortable, performs at a high level, and just looks seriously effing cool in action. I’d honestly take it over the official Xbox One controller any day of the week.

Buy From: The Afterglow Prismatic Xbox One Controller is available now at an official MSRP of $49.99 from Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Walmart, or directly through PDP.

Disclosure: An Afterglow Prismatic Xbox One Controller was provided to VGBlogger.com for review by PDP.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!