If you like a musically focused, unique experience, Proteus just might be what you’re looking for.
Developer: Curve Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Reviewed on: PlayStation 3 (PlayStation Vita version also available)
Proteus is a weird one in the sense that it doesn’t really have a story element attached to it like most other games. It places you into the world from the off with no explanation as to what you must do, and this is down to the game being all about exploration and giving you complete control, letting you decide how you’d like to tackle it. There are no on-screen prompts and the game doesn’t tell you what you must do at certain points. You have the freedom to explore and experience the unparalleled world of Proteus in anyway you prefer.
Proteus’ visuals aren’t going to blow your socks away, so if you’re expecting that then you will be extremely disappointed. This game isn’t about pushing technical boundaries, it’s more about the striking art style and gorgeous transitions that are dotted around each island within the game. For those that are familiar with Minecraft’s pixelated form, Proteus is very similar in the way it’s presented. Bright and vibrant colours are featured all over the islands during the daytime hours and the transitions from the day to night cycles are some of the most breathtakingly beautiful and surreal experiences I’ve ever seen in a game. It’s clear that Curve Studios were more focused on developing a game that has character, and it shows in abundance. I know there will be gamers out there that will be put off by its styling, but take it for what it is and you’ll see a game that offers something beyond fancy visuals.
An extremely important aspect of Proteus, without any sound the game just wouldn’t work at all. It’s great then that the audio in Proteus in damn good. The soundtrack is dynamic, evolving as you progress. Each section of the world you visit will produce a different sound, so something like chasing an animal may give off an uplifting tone while treading through a graveyard may start a dark and creepy noise. By linking sounds and acoustic effects together, the dynamic soundtrack really does comes together superbly, producing some downright beautiful music. There are not many titles that focus on sound as one of its main priorities, but in Proteus does exactly that and the results are stunning.
The gameplay mechanics in Proteus are very simple. Left stick to move, right stick to move the camera, X to sit and R1 to take a postcard snapshot (which can be stored to show what you’ve achieved throughout your experience with the game). Proteus is all about exploring, interacting with objects by using proximity. In turn, this sets off the dynamic soundtrack and a chorus of tunes with effects that increase the more you interact with other objects in the world. The game features all four seasons of the year and each has its own unique look. You start off in spring with its slightly toned colour, but once you change to the summer period you get a bright and vibrant colour palette. The transitions between the seasons are beautifully put together and look downright breathtaking.
At night, a cluster of lights appear which advances time to the following season, and once winter is done the game ends. Although some might not enjoy the experience with Proteus due to the lack of objectives or the unstructured feel, it’s a fresh and engaging title that has so much going for it. I can totally understand why it might not everyone’s cup of tea, but this is by no means a bad thing.
I’m going to cut to the chase, Proteus isn’t a long game. The main game can be finished within one hour, and that’s extremely short for a title which isn’t exactly cheap. One thing that does keep the game fresh is the fact that the world Proteus is set in is procedurally generated, which means that each time you play it you’ll get a slightly different experience. It’s a nice idea, but unfortunately since completion I’ve not had the urge to step back into the game and I doubt you will too. It’s a fantastic title, but it’s more of as one time experience game rather than something you’ll play over and over again.
While Proteus won’t be for everyone (some may find it hard to adapt to), my personal experience was a very positive one. Yes, it has some downfalss like the fact that it’s extremely short and doesn’t offer much after a first play, but even with those points in mind, it really is a unique and uplifting experience that can’t be found in many other video games. If you’re after something that is fresh, simple and stylised, then you can’t go wrong with Proteus.