Indie Review: Proteus
Proteus is an experimental adventure indie game from Ed Key and David Kanaga, that aims to take players on a unique journey that focuses on exploration driven by the audio and visual experience.
- Worth The Time?Yes, if you're looking for good escapism.
- Things LovedThe concept is really interesting, the pixelated visual style is gorgeously executed, the audio is extremely vibrant and enchanting, the game is strangely relaxing and calming, it's great escapism, it's very unique.
- Things HatedIt doesn't have much interactivity, progression takes a while to grasp.
- RecommendationThis game is definitely not for everyone. If you want a traditional game, then this is not for you. If you're interested in a unique experience that will allow you to escape into a better place through immersion, colour, exploration and beauty, then be sure to try this out. It's a great game to take you away.
- Name: Proteus
- Genre: Experimental, Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Ed Key and David Kanaga
- Publisher: Ed Key and David Kanaga
- Price: $8.99
- Reviewed On: PC
Proteus is an experimental adventure indie game from Ed Key and David Kanaga, that aims to take players on a unique journey that focuses on exploration driven by the audio and visual experience. It really only takes a line or two to explain what this game is about. You wake up in the middle of the ocean, and looming in front of you in the distance is an island. But, you’re not lost, or stranded or in any sort of danger. You’ve actually landed in a place of wonder and beauty, and the game is about exploring this island as you progress through four seasons. Throughout your journey you’ll encounter many little creatures and wonders, all of which add melodies to the wonderful background music when you draw near, and essentially you’ll just sit back and become immersed in this world. That’s about it.
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The island is fairly large, but your movement speed is fast enough so that exploration doesn’t feel daunting at all. Furthermore, you can pretty much get anywhere, whether you want to venture off into the sea or climb mountains, you’re able to do both with relative ease. You’ll simply just wander around and take in the world, its creatures and its melodies and songs. There’s not much more to it really. There are no collectibles, nothing you really have to actively do other than explore and find the means to progress to the next season, and there are no checkpoints or deaths or anything of the sort. It’s meant to be completed in one sitting, and the idea is to get completely lost in this world without caring much about detail. It’s simply about a journey, one that is all about beauty, wonder and colour.
Initially, I did find myself wondering about the purpose of the game and whether I was invested enough to keep playing, but before I knew it I had gone on for over half an hour, and right then and there I realised what this game is. Proteus is pure escapism. It’s childlike wonder. This game is just so calm and peaceful that I found myself completely relaxed while playing it, and I was just lost in this amazing world. There is something admirable in that. There really is. When you need to just take your mind away from something and for a while just forget about what’s bogging you down, I can see this game coming to the rescue. This game is like playing a dream, as in you’ll get to experience something surreal and magical while you’re still awake. This is a very unique game and, while I won’t be debating its artistic merit, I will be saying that its yet another addition to the list of games that can do something special for its players. You’ll know if you want this. Not everyone will get something out of it.
There are many who would argue that this isn’t really a game, but to them I’d say that they’re looking at it the wrong way. Gaming has long since evolved, and today it’s almost limitless in what it can be, and there are so many reasons to play any particular kind of game. It’s about what you want at any given time and what a game can give you. For a simple example, when you’re in the mood for a movie, maybe you don’t always want a deep, thought-provoking and serious film like The Dark Knight. Maybe you just want The Avengers, a good time filled with action and explosions. Yes, admittedly I do feel that Proteus needs a bit more interactivity, like maybe being able to actively influence or play with the various creatures and structures that produce tunes. Perhaps it would have been enjoyable if you were able to make tunes of your own with button presses. Even the ability to jump would have helped this, as it keeps players occupied and makes exploration more fun. While Proteus is many great things, you do risk becoming detached or disengaged from the experience due to a general lack of interaction.
But that said, the game still manages to keep you hooked and immersed into its world. It achieved what it set out to do. I got something valuable from it, and it’s honestly been a really long time since I could use a game to get such a great degree of escapism and complete peace. If you’re stressed out, angry, troubled or your mind is too busy, Proteus could be really great medicine. But if you just want to sit back and have fun with more gamey elements, this probably won’t do a whole lot for you. Proteus has a purpose, and it works, and as I already said, it’s not a game for everyone. It’s a game for those who need it. Of course, it’s also a game for anyone who is always eager for something different. The only little flaw with the game is that it can be a bit tricky to figure out how to progress through the seasons, and it’s not clear cut how it’s done. It seems to just happen when you explore and play enough. Maybe here the game needed a bit more direction and clarity. Perhaps not knowing how or when was also the point, but it can get a bit puzzling or even irritating when you feel like you’re not progressing.
Proteus uses a pixelated visual style that just takes you years back. It’s gorgeously executed and gives the game enormous charm. Despite its style, it manages to be really immersive and in many ways beautiful. It’s a very cute game as well, and the four seasons look really great, especially in winter when the world changes. There are those who won’t appreciate it or who would prefer modern graphics, but sometimes charm and wonder does its job more than well enough, and as you know beauty can be found in interesting places often. The audio is the star of the show here, and it’s extremely vibrant and enchanting. The background music is amazingly serene, and all of the little melodies and tunes you add to it, while you explore and come across what inhabits the island, are absorbing and relaxing. This game is all about the audio and visual experience, and for me it performed excellently here.
Proteus feels like it lacks interactivity, and it’s not for everybody, or for those who want a traditional game. However, it’s undoubtedly unique and it fulfills its purpose wonderfully, giving players something really special and rare. It’s pure escapism, enchanting you through immersion, exploration and beauty. Proteus is about taking you to a happy place, and this is what makes it a magical experience.