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Proteus (PS3) Developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga Published by Curve Studios Released October 29, 2013 Review Written February 16, 2014 Originally Posted on Boss Dungeon Not really knowing what I was getting into, Proteus is one of the few games I picked up during my Playstation Network winter sale binge. Developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga this artistic odyssey leaves the player, or viewer I should say, with more questions than answers. With a minimalistic art style sprinkled with a musical undercurrent, this journey makes you want to believe it has more to offer. When you first begin Proteus your character awakens in the middle of the ocean a mile away from an island. Your character is actually less of a character and more of a floating, disembodied eyeball but that is fairly irrelevant. As you move out of the waters and trek upon the nearby beaches, you gaze upon the beautiful, minimalistic art style. With every step you are given a snowballing melody that adds to the bewilderment. Musical tones spring for every movement, every creature, and every plant. Not really knowing what you stumbled into, you continue on seeking answers. I“m singing in the rain!!! Proteus creates this peaceful, relaxing experience of meandering while maintaining its ambiguity in order to grab your interest for at least one playthrough. The biggest draw of Proteus is its ability to appease your inner wanderlust in the same vein as games like TESV: Skyrim or Fallout 3. Although only resembling those games through the innate desire to roam freely, Proteus brings forth its beautiful textures and sounds to inspire exploration. With a changing time cycle, weather cycle, four seasons, and randomly generated islands it can be somewhat of a different experience for each player but by much. There is just something calming about seeing pixilated clouds glide towards your screen and slowly release a downpour of rain. Adding more upon that, the pixilated art style is very soft in its presence. I really enjoyed the first moments I spent watching trees rustle in the wind through blocky textures like some 16-bit dance. The skyline is also the most breathtaking element within Proteus as dawn and dusk flow while a rare falling star glimmers in the corner of your screen. The visuals are definitely a key point of the game along with the musical tones, as they both help develop the serene nature throughout your journey. The controls to Proteus are as minimalistic as the entire game“s structure as well. You only have the ability to move, look, sit, and save. The minimal controls are meant to help promote your wanderment but I felt it holds the player back by lacking interactive buttons and this comes off as one of the flaws within the game; your character doesn“t really interact with the environment you are viewing. Some animals will run away when you approach them, but that is the only reaction you gain from wandering the island besides the handful of moments that will leave you audibly saying, â€œWhoa.â€ Without feeling like I was truly interacting with the island or able to do anything other than walk, I felt less like I was playing a game and more like I was viewing a digital art gallery throughout my one hour playthrough. This is what you get to work with. Looking at Proteus after completing it, I“ve been trying to distinguish if it can even be categorized as a game. Sure it has some gaming elements and is fairly linear in getting to the end screen, but it lacks what you find normally within a game; an objective or at least a straightforward one. This was the most frustrating aspect for me as there“s no sense of direction, no instructions, and no true interaction with the world you traverse. What“s the point of playing if there is no goal to complete? Sure the game starts out interesting and somewhat fun while searching with reckless abandon, but that novelty wears off after completing an hour. Proteus doesn“t offer many reasons to really return to the island to replay another session. Yet digging deeper into the basis of this game I found one objective the creators had intended for the player. Albeit very basic, the goal of Proteus is to just explore and be free. Strangely the game achieves influencing the player to explore as many players will begin to do so without realizing it. Even with that realization I still think Proteus is more of an hour long visual-musical experience than a game; a digital art display. Bees!! Fact: treating a bee sting has more objectives than this game. Proteus starts you off lost and confused, searching with questions when there are no answers. From a distance it appears that it doesn“t have much to offer, yet a peaceful hour long experience is left available for those willing to take it. I took a blind leap into this game and personally don“t feel the experience obtained from Proteus is worth the money. I“d say pass on it unless it sounds like something that will artistically appeal to your inner wanderer. Review Written by Solid-Alchemist
Roger Ebert once said that video games could never be art. While Ebert meant games that are considered "fun to play" are unartful, it was a gross underestimation of how the gaming industry would develop over the next decade. In the past 5 years alone, the independent development scene has become the place for experimentation in game design and the shifting of games to art. One of the more intriguing titles to buck the Ebert generalization is Ed Key and David Kanaga's Proteus, a weird, whimsical, and wonderful experience. Describing Proteus is a challenge. I can tell you it's an exploration game in the vein of Dear Esther. You walk around as an unnamed avatar on a mysterious, beautiful island. But Proteus is a very different animal than the melancholic, lonely experience Esther provides. Proteus is all about instilling joy, tranquility, and wonder in players. It's not unlike lying up on a roof and staring at the stars above saying, "Wow, that's amazing!" The first thing you'll notice is the distinct visual style. It looks like an Atari 2600 game modeled in 3D. The island is bathed in pastel colors and looks as if someone deconstructed a real island and remade it from squares and basic shapes. It's a work of art in motion as the trees rustle, leaves glide gently to the ground, and small creatures jump to and fro. Walking around, you can chase animals and take in the wonderful vistas from (what I assume are) mountain peaks. In the background, David Kanaga's soundtrack steadily pulses. As you interact with animals, the noises they make wonderfully build on the music. It's a symphony that you create, and each animal has its own unique sound as it shies away from you. The soundtrack and audio design combine with the visuals to create an enrapturing experience. Even though Proteus is still in beta, it's a fantastic taster of what's to come from Ed and David. If you're still not convinced that Proteus is for you, check out the Youtube trailer below. It gives you an idea of the basic experience while saving the hidden secrets for when you actually play. If you do take a bite of the good fruit, be prepared for a journey that's as directed and straight-forward as you want it to be. It's best if you explore and see what the island has to offer. You never know what Proteus will unveil for you next!