It’s hard to describe Proteus merely through words. Being as unique as it is, one will only fully understand it through play and experiencing it for yourself. That said however, I will persist and try my best to shed some light on this mysterious and utterly intriguing indie title.
Acting more as an interactive experience than an inherit videogame, Proteus drops you into a randomly generated island filled with luscious voxel based graphics and a variety of unique landmarks. Given no explanation for your surroundings, your character, or purpose on the island, you are left with only your curiosity to drive through the average hour long playtime. With exploration being the only option here, you will scour the sizeable island in search of things to interact with, and ultimately, ‘complete’ the island.
The games unique element comes from the brilliant audio design that is present throughout. Each aspect of the island influences the audio to produce beautiful ambience as you explore what the island has to offer, with the player’s interactions truly shaping the audio. Discovering certain landmarks may add another unique layer to it all, and the ever changing weather and day and night cycle changes the music accordingly. In addition to this, individual elements such as the vegetation and wildlife do their own part to influence the greater sound. The tree’s whistle, rabbits hop along to musical notes, and chickens scutter away to a hail of melodical hits. The sound direction is nothing short of astonishing, and it’s amazing how every aspect adds to the whole no matter how subtle or abrasive it is.
The game plays through an FPS format with the movement and camera being controlled by the analog sticks respectively. There isn’t very much to do aside from manoeuvring about, with the ability to sit-down, save a postcard (the way of returning to a specific island), and closing your eyes being the only other interactions. This lack of interaction with the world does well to hone in on the audio and graphics, creating a pure experience, with attention being held on the core mechanics without any distractions. Simplicity is the key, with the island and the audio being the stars here, not the gameplay itself.
While traversing each island is as simple as it gets, there is some frustration to be found here. I often found myself being completely confused, especially on my first playthrough where I had no idea how to progress through the game. After a while I was able to figure something out, but until then I became increasingly annoyed and bored of the world. There is a fine line between being vague on your objectives, and being damn right baffling, and unfortunately Proteus crosses that line resulting in a very confusing first playthrough. However, once that bridge has been crossed, there is a lot to enjoy here, and players will find the game to be very relaxing and a great piece of escapism.
While the game was primarily reviewed on the PS3, I did sink some time in on the PsVita version too in order to find how it compared. It’s safe to say that the title runs just as well on the handheld console, without any cutbacks being made to get it to work on the hardware. The graphics look just as vibrant and charming on the Vita’s OLED screen, and the analog sticks are just as responsive as they are on the Dualshock controller, allowing for a seamless transfer between the two formats. Features have been added for the Vita release, with the inclusion of a motion controlled camera setting, and the ability to interact with the island using the touch screen. I would probably go as far as to say that the Vita version is superior in that the handheld format works best for the bite sized gameplay that Proteus delivers. The only downside to this version is that you won’t get optimal sound from the Vita’s stereo speakers. To get the most out of the title, players will have to use a good quality pair of headphones/earphones. Then again, that is the best way to experience this game regardless of platform.
All in all, the success of Proteus is determined by how invested you are in the games world and the audio design. While some players (such as myself) may be satisfied by 2 playthroughs, others may find a lasting charm within this game. Ultimately this game depends on the individual, but however many times you find yourself playing it, Proteus is at least memorable, and a stark example of how smart graphical and audio design can drive a game. While there can be a lot of confusion and time lost figuring out what to do, you can at least merit the execution. Put some headphones in, experience the game, push past the problems, and then you will truly understand the magic of this indie title.
- Great graphics
- Superb audio design
- Intriguing world
- Can be very confusing at times.
- Not much replay value.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.