Reviewing a game like Proteus is hard. Developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga, it sits firmly in the realm of experiential gaming making each encounter different for every player. For me, it was a strange, ethereal experience that I greatly loved.
At its most basic, Proteus is a first-person exploration game that places the player onto a randomly generated island to experience.You are given no direction, no goal, only a place and the ability to move. There is no real gameplay to speak of. The only objective seems to be finding the swirling area of light to advance the world to the next season and explore again.
The two biggest draws for this game are the art style and the music. The art is a kind of 3D 8-bit minimalism. Trees and plants are fairly rudimentary in shape, and the animals you come across are basically disconnected from any real world counterpart. But the colors are bright and distinct and each object is its own overt presence. The visuals might not be complex, but they are beautiful.
The music is something spectacular. Each object group has their own distinctive music quality. Falling leaves, crabs, shooting stars, and even the high mountains all have strong musical presence. As you explore sounds come and go, fading and appearing as you near different objects. The sounds blend together, never clashing or grating, and create a musical atmosphere stronger than any other part of the game.
Proteus sits solidly in the realm of an “art” game and that will ultimately color your experience of the game. If you’re like me and enjoy games that are experiences along the lines of Dear Esther or Flower, there is a good chance you will like this game. But if you want to have direction, goals, or an end game, you might want to skip Proteus.
Summary: Proteus is a polarizing experience that will draw in some and repel others.
Verdict: 6 out of 10
Available on their website and through Steam.