Proteus makes it clear from the start: this isn’t for everyone.
Created by Ed Key and David Kanaga (and published for the PlayStation 3/Vita last week by Curve Studios), Proteus is a procedurally-generated sandbox exploration game with a gorgeous, brightly palleted pixel graphical style set within a third-dimension. With a focus on exploration and discovery, it’s perhaps important to note that Proteus is ‘one of those arty games’ that lacks much of an aim.
I was quick to purchase the game on the PlayStation 3 yesterday whilst browsing the store, having previously been interested in the game from spotting it on IndieGames.com. Short, charming exploration games have always interested me (Roly Poly Pumpkin, Seiklus, Walk) and the game’s trailer made it very clear that Proteus has perfected using pixels in a 3D environment – no game does this as well as Proteus does, though it’d be interesting if more games did. Though I missed playing the beta of the game on the PC, I imagine this experience on a large TV screen with a controller in your hand works much better.
Back to the ‘this isn’t for everyone’ point: I described this game to my partner and his response was more-or-less ‘it sounds pointless and boring’. Though appreciators of the game claim that you need to appreciate art to appreciate this, I think it’s also important that you’re a regular gamer who understands the cliches of video gaming narrative very well. Most of us gamers’ favourite games are mainstream, linear, narrative-driven games – they are for me and I’m sure most of my future favourites will also be – but this game is colourful, charming and represents a fantastic break away from the normal sort of games we’ll be playing. Think of it as a video game holiday.
I’m trying not to give too much away of the game, not just because there’s not a lot to give away but also because the experience will be spoiled if every step of it is explained to you. Proteus will give you feelings reminiscent of Journey and Flower. Proteus will give you nostalgic memories of the nights you spent under the starry sky, softly chatting with your best friend. Proteus will remind you of the sense of awe you felt from watching the lantern scene in Tangled. Basically, Proteus is the summary of everything that’s been beautiful in your life and you need to experience it.