Proteus – Review (PSN)

Like Myst on acid

We meet again, Proteus. A while back I reviewed the PC version of this gorgeous relax ’em up – in fact it was one of the first original reviews I did for the site. Despite enjoying the experience I was left wanting a little more involvement with the world I was exploring. With Sony making a push to get more indies publishing on their platforms, Proteus has made the jump from PC, to PS3 and PS Vita as a crossbuy title. Are new exclusive features enough to finally sell me on the experience?

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Proteus begins by dropping players off in the middle of an ocean, not far ahead lays an island brimming with life, colour and sound. There are no objectives in the game, no game-over screens, and no way to die; the only goal is to wander around, discover the island, and uncover its secrets. The island is peppered with landmarks to discover, including a shack, gravestones, and swarms of insects. These do nothing except populate the island and act as points of interest.

By entering an ethereal vortex, the player can change the season and the look of the island. In the summer the island is bright and vibrant, with wildlife sprinkled liberally throughout. In the winter, however, all life on the island is gone, the trees are bare and there is an undeniably eerie tone. Should the appearance of the island not be to your liking, the new rear touchpad capabilities of the PS Vita allow the player to experiment with new colour schemes – it’s a small feature but can be fun to mess around with.

The PS3 and PS Vita versions of the game now feature the ability to generate islands based on geographic location, as well as random island creation and different daily islands. These features add nothing new but they keep things fresh by re-jigging the layout of the island, which is important given how brief the experience is.

A typical jaunt around the island can take anywhere between 15-45 minutes, depending on how dedicated you are to looking around, and achievement hunting. The experience is sedate, and is best avoided by thrill-seekers or those with short attention spans.

As with Proteus’ PC counterpart the visuals and sounds are absolutely sublime. All elements of the island are made up of a single colour tone. In the summer the island is bright and vibrant with eye-searing pink, green and orange, the Autumn brings muted greens,browns and burgundy, while winter features expansive fields of white contrasted with a deep blue sky. Every colour pops on the Vita’s OLED screen and is utterly gorgeous; Proteus is a sight to behold on Sony’s handheld.

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All creatures inhabiting the island come to life with their own unique sound, and are a delight to follow around just to hear. For the most relaxing experience, pair the PS Vita version of the game with a quality pair of headphones.

While playing Proteus on both PC and PS Vita the same thought crossed my mind: “I wish this game had something more.”. While the experience is definitely worthwhile and seriously enjoyable, I longed for more involvement and immersion. A feature as simple as collectibles scattered around the island would have increased my enjoyment of the title exponentially, and would provide a reason to visit the game more than a handful of times. That said, Proteus feels much more at home on PS Vita than it ever did on PC.

Despite Proteus originating on PC, the definitive version of the game resides on PS Vita. Sony’s handheld hardware is well-suited to this particular brand of sedate, bite-sized exploration. The latest version of the game does nothing extra to immerse the player or keep them coming back for more, but it doesn’t feel as big of an issue as it does on the PC version. With new features, some rather obtuse trophies, and crossbuy going for it, Proteus is a pocketable portion of portable paradise.