Discover the delights of Proteus
In my opinion there is no more divisive a genre than the Art Game. Loved and loathed in equal measure by gamers, they are the Marmite of the gaming world. It is a given that when you review an Art Game you are going to ruffle a few feathers. When Proteus appeared in the latest Humble Indie Bundle I knew I had to review it.
Created by Ed Key and David Kanga, Proteus is all about exploration and discovery. You begin the game in the middle of a vast ocean, just ahead of you lays an island dense with wildlife and plants. Once you reach the beach you are free to explore the island and uncover all of the wonders it holds. On my adventures I discovered an abandoned cabin, rabbit-like creatures that play a tune as they hop, and more (I won’t ruin the experience for you).
Everything about Proteus is wonderfully minimalist. Controlling your character requires a mouse only. Graphics are basic and everything in the world consists of a single colour tone. The island is especially beautiful at night. Stars fall from the sky, animals swarm together, trees sway and their leaves fall softly to the ground. The world of Proteus is peaceful, ambient and relaxing.
I highly recommend playing the game with a high quality pair of headphones. Everything you encounter has a unique sound of its own. Chasing around the little rabbits yields the plinky-plonky sound of a xylophone with every hop. Dragonflies create a crescendo of sound en masse; when layered with the sound of the wind running through the grass, creates one of the most serene moments I have encountered in my gaming life.
Thanks to procedural generation every island you explore in the game will be slightly different from the last. Familiar sights will still appear but in a different location than before. It’s a nice feature and will prolong the experience a little, but Proteus is a short-lived slice of serenity. After 15-20 minutes of rambling you will have seen everything the island has to offer; the joy of discovering new landmarks and creatures will fade, and boredom will set in.
Similar to when I reviewed Bientôt l’été, I found myself wondering where the art ended and the game began. True, exploring the world and seeing the sights is fun, but I find it very difficult to classify Proteus as a game. I longed for more interactivity with the world. The ability to enter the cabin I found. I wanted to catch the rabbit that always got away, but I just wasn’t allowed.
Those seeking a relaxing, offbeat experience would do well to pick up Proteus while it is included in the Humble Indie Bundle. I would highly recommend it to people who require a little escapism for the stresses of the world, but I cannot recommend that you pay £6.99 for it.