Despite popular belief, games don’t necessarily have to be about gunning some hapless chap down before he does the same to you. Some games involve music, some games involve adventure, and some games simply serve to make you stop and take in your surroundings. “Proteus” is a mix all of three of these things and is designed to send the player on a unique adventure that they soon won’t forget. Before we don our hiking boots and zip up our backpacks, I’d like to thank Ed Key (the designer and programmer of “Proteus”) for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu allows the player to start a new game, adjust game options, view help, and quit the game. The help menu is only a page long and simply gives you a primer as to how the game is played. The options menu lets you adjust some movement controls, change the screen resolution, toggle fullscreen, adjust the field of view, tweak the draw distance, change sound levels, and etc. Extra options are available in the “other” menu once you complete the game. The control scheme is easy to get used to, as all you’ll really need are the arrow keys and mouse to move and look around, respectively. “Q” auto-walks and the “Space Bar” sits. It’s worth noting that there is no save feature and you can’t access the menu in-game, though games generally don’t take that long to finish which I’ll get into later. Holding escape will quit the game you’re playing and bring you back to the main menu.
“Proteus” is all about exploration and discovery. There is no defining plotline and there are no other human characters to directly interact with. While the game is set in a first person view, you won’t have items or weapons to equip in your travels. Instead, you’ll be presented with beautiful landscapes that are populated by various creatures. How you choose to explore these landscapes will define the shape of the story that you are mentally writing as you go. This game will play heavily on your imagination and curiosity…the more you have of both, the more you’ll enjoy your experience.
The landscapes themselves are made up of 2D/3D graphical styles that remind me of my NES days. They have a “Minecraft” feel to them, without the blockiness. To add to the beauty of these landscapes is a soundtrack that changes to suit your surroundings. One moment, you might be staring off into the sunset with calm musical overtones in the background and the next you might be presented with an eerie setting with less cheerful music to accompany it. There is a day and night cycle present, as well as a change in seasons which marks your progress within the game. I don’t want to spoil the game too much, but I will say that there is an object that will allow you to advance through these seasons after enough time has passed.
The game itself randomizes the island you’re on with each and every game, giving you a different experience each time. You’ll see some overlap from game to game in terms of the landscapes and objects you’ll run into, but the overall experience will be different enough to keep you engaged from start to finish. The game can be finished in about an hour, more or less, depending on how long and how many times you hang around to smell the roses. A “postcard” feature is available, which allows the player to take a picture of their screen and share their discoveries with others as they go.
When it comes down to it, I found “Proteus” to be a relaxing and engaging experience that was difficult for me to put down. The meditative nature of the game made me wish that I didn’t have to pause to check homework and help with dinner. Any good parent knows how difficult it can be sometimes to catch a breath, but when I do, I’m glad that games like “Proteus” are there waiting and willing to give me a much-needed peace of mind. Is it worth its current price of $9.99 (as of 2/6/13)? The depends…are you someone who has the patience to play a game that focuses on ambience? If you enjoyed games like “Dear Esther” and “Journey”, then I recommend that you give this game a look. If you can only get your kicks from yelling vulgar things into your headset while playing “Call of Duty”, then you may want to look elsewhere.
Final Verdict: 6/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Proteus” by visiting the following websites:
You can view video play sessions here: