First of all to get this out of the way, there is no story to Proteus and no plot line what so ever and that is perfectly fine. This choice has been the subject of controversy as to whether it makes it a game or not but I will let you be the judge.
As the player, you explore a world in the first person perspective. What is extremely interesting about this world is that it is procedurally-generated. Meaning no two visits will ever be the same. You can explore an island and fully immerse yourself in this uniquely charming world that boasts a quaint melodic soundtrack that is performed based on your own movements. The seasons play a vital role in progression and offer an immense diversity in details; particular note goes to the finer aspects. Though this game is primarily an exploration game there are a handful of immensely charming and at first glance quite mystifying mysteries that scream out to be solved.
Quite simply your goal is exploration and Proteus has absolutely nailed this concept. Presenting itself in an 8-bit form, believe me when I say that every little bit of detail has been extensively and thoroughly accounted for. The amount of finer details for this title is unprecedented for any indie title that I have had the pleasure of participating in. I said earlier you will be exploring throughout the seasons. Proteus shines as it depicts it’s seasons in it’s pixelated world. In spring, you experience trees coming into blossom and animals in the wild. Even the finer details such as puffy sun shower clouds that play an incredibly addictive melodic tune when you get near. Summer the sun is out and brighter than ever with waves of heat blaring from it and a glare on the screen that isn’t present in any other season. Autumn gives you a barrage of oranges and browns as leaves cover the ground and a thin fog begins to cover the land. The final season, Winter brings you a quite desolate feeling, all the animals have gone into hibernation, snow has covered every square inch of the world and the thin fog from autumn has become a thick blanket covering the majority of the world.
Like I said each season has its own unique traits with an amazingly charming attention to detail that I wish I could do justice with this review. However, we briefly mentioned the audio aspects to Proteus. The music to this game responds to your movements. For example, when you walk into a patch of flowers a bright tune will play and the flowers will disappear. Each recording has been pre-made and allocated to an object in the world so that you could walk from a patch of flowers, then startle a wild animal then turn your focus onto a rock. All of these will play their individual tunes. There is a huge amount of variety to objects that produce the tunes. The real magic behind this is that no matter what order you interact with or disturb the environment everything is so cohesive and feels right. Take my earlier example and add that to being in a downpour of rain and it will still feel natural. This just shows an amazing development from the two creators.
Beginning your journey off shore you are given no instructions but to “explore” and this is what you will do for roughly the 40-45 minutes it will take to conclude your first play through. Even though this is your first play through I could nearly guarantee it won’t be your last. That first step is completely magical; to describe it accurately I would say it was like Alice going down the rabbit hole. Entering a strange new world where through discovery not everything is as it seems.
Although released on PC a little while ago the cross buy opportunity on the PSN store has a few more options available to purchasers. The Vita can allow you to use the motion controls to steer your point of view after activation and after a certain point the use of the back touchscreen becomes enabled interaction in the worlds. Along with these, the playable maps have the ability to generate on your current location. The PlayStation 3 along with the Vita can also generate specific maps based on the date and time set to your console. Trophy support is featured of course with some very cryptic explanations behind them which only help to deepen the mysteries that lurk within Proteus. The game also lets you take any in screen screenshot and turn it into a postcard. This is a lot more addictive than it sounds as this world is a place that you will want to capture and remember.
Proteus is a breath of fresh air. With no tasks, no bosses, no levels or challenges. The only task is to explore and immerse yourself in an immensely beautiful world. This is so refreshing, not only from a change in gameplay but also to the individual. After initially playing I felt so soothed and relaxed from enjoying this game that after my initial play through I had one of the best naps I have ever had. With its amazing attention to detail that to me is unprecedented in an 8-bit game and an interactive musical score that is enchanting from beginning to end. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this humble indie game to anyone to experience. The game is $16.60 which may scare potential buyers off but i’d still recommend it with Cross-Buy. Hopefully it will lower in price soon to get even more attention.