Another Indie makes it way to the PS Vita, this time from Ed Key and his title, Proteus. An experience that must be played to really appreciate.
Proteus first came about on the PC, as did many Indies that have made their way to the Vita. It is a title that shares more in common with games such as Flower, Journey, etc. It isn’t a game as such, more an experience, a first person mood simulator…maybe?
There is no story, no objectives, no real goals or anything. It is just you and a procedural generated world to get lost in. You will start off in exactly the same position every time you embark on a new adventure. In the middle of the sea facing what looks like an island in the distance.
It starts the same, it starts without any instruction, or rules. You just know by instinct that you are to make your way to the small mass of land in the distance. It is a first person game, so you know what the basic controls must be, to you move forward and take to land. You look around and take in the world that is around.
You walk further, you spot a path, you decide to follow the path. There is something moving over there to the left, so you go and check it out, it is a few chickens, they run away as you approach, so you chase them and spot something else and go and investigate that. The next thing you know is that time has shifted in the real world. somehow it has got dark out and you started on your journey in the middle of the afternoon.
You have lost hours to this, with headphones on laying on the sofa you can totally lose yourself in this ever changing world. Honestly, people could have broken into my home, ransacked the place made themselves some lunch and walked out without me noticing. Such is the level of immersion in this game.
What surprises you though, is that unlike a Dear Esther, this isn’t a graphical powerhouse, you aren’t being taking around photo-realistic worlds. You have to look at this like you would a piece of art, it isn’t realistic, but it uses techniques that give each person that views it a different feeling.
That is also in no small part to the music. It is only after thinking back that you realise just how effective the music in Proteus is. It is completely ambient and it is that which draws you in and relaxes you until such a time your first journey is over.
Yes, Proteus is a short experience and is at it’s core a message about mortality. You don’t want it to be over though, you want to go back and rekindle that experience you have had. There are a couple of ways in which you can do this. Either by starting again, which drops you into the sea and off you go.
The other option is what is one of the best save systems you will encounter in a game. You are able to take snapshots as you go, these are saved as wonderful looking photos that you can view in a gallery. What you will find though, is that clicking one of these saved photos will take you right back into the world, allowing you to explore even further. You will find yourself come to a point where you are torn on which direction you want to go, so you take a snapshot, go in one direction, then when you dive back in another time, you can go the other direction.
Proteus isn’t a game in the usual sense of the word, it won’t appeal to every demographic, but it is an experience we would urge as many people as possible to take. There is something special about this that will leave a lasting effect.