There’s something special about a game with no set goal, no story, no real motivation other than pure curiosity. This is the basic idea of Proteus. You’re dropped on the outskirts of a randomly generated pixel art island. There never is a waypoint telling you where to go, there isn’t an objective list, the game just expects you to find your own way, and it ultimately delivers an experience that’s liberating.
The gameplay in Proteus is rather straightforward. You’ll use the left and right sticks to move around like any other first person game, while circle is used to close your character’s eyes to go back to the main menu, and the right trigger is used to take “postcards,” which can be used to revisit that moment at a later time. X can be used to sit on the ground at any time, and the right trigger can be used to use a motion camera.
Originally a title for PC, Proteus now makes its way to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, and with it brings unique features. The Vita version has the ability to generate an island based on your location, and the PS3 version has the ability to generate an island based on the date. Vita also has the ability to change the environment by swiping the back touch screen while sitting down in the game.
The music of Proteus is nothing short of incredible. Spring time offers sounds of eagerness and excitement, while winter echoes deep sounds that help elevate the feeling of cold and isolation. Not only is there background music, but sounds for everything and anything. Animals will tease you with delightful sounds as you chase them, and when clouds arrive to deliver rain, scattered notes fill the world as the precipitation hits. The music and sound of Proteus not only illustrate how important sound can be to a game, but how much impact sound and music can be to making the actual world come to life.
Proteus has somewhat of a level progression, where the player travels through the seasons on the island starting from spring and ending in winter, but the main draw in Proteus is the delightful world it has created. Simple events led me chasing around animals like I was a child again, and it not only brought happiness, but a calm. So many games today force the player to have a tunnel vision while playing, and it can result in ignored aspects of the game. Proteus knocks off the blinders and makes its sole mission to have the players explore how much or how little they want to.
When first dropped in the world of Proteus, you may notice the distinct visual style of the game. The pixel art used is unique, and offers a sense of personality to the island, itself. Its beauty is formed by its simplicity, and makes exploration of the island refreshing. Pixel trees will blow in the wind, clouds will envelop your surroundings, and star installations in the sky at night all help create a small but enriched world that begs to be explored and marveled. Since the island is randomly generated, new journeys can be had when starting a new game, and while most landmarks don’t vary, the random placement of everything makes each visit feel brand new.
Proteus is a fairly short game. Without exploration, you could easily go through all the seasons and get to the “end game” in about an hour. With the price tag being $13.99, some may question the overall value; although buying it on either PS3 or Vita will nab you the opposite version since it’s a cross-buy title.
Proteus won’t be for everyone. While some may find the freedom of exploration invigorating, others may find it pointless. It’s all dependent on if you appreciate going on a journey with no true motivation other than your own curiosity and desire for something new, and that’s exactly what Proteus offers: a refreshing experience unlike any other.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita game Proteus by Curve Studios, distributed by Curve Digital.
- Sound and music design
- Beautiful World
- Incredibly Short