Game Review: Proteus (PS VITA/PS3)
The PS Vita is home to perhaps some of the most interesting indie titles, both exclusive and multi-platform. It is, in fact, the portable simplicity of the Vita that makes these experiences stand out when compared to the other platforms. In my opinion, indie games work absolutely great on this powerful little device. Now, we’ve got another fine addition to the PS Vita and PS3 Indie family and its name is Proteus.
Proteus is an experimental experience envisioned by Ed Key and David Kanaga, that places you near a new island each time you play, prompting you to further explore it. The game prides itself on its audio work and how each sound is implemented within the inhabitants of the world. In fact it even won awards and recognition for it.
The game begins with you in the middle of what appears to be an ocean, with an island right in front you. It is after a while on the first try, that you realize that you have to move closer to the island. Once you are there, nothing is shown or explained, you’re just there. The game encourages you to walk around and explore the different settings in-game. On the first playthrough this will feel absolutely magical as you’re a stranger to the world of Proteus. Each plant and creature in this world has a distinct and light-hearted sound signature. It all mixes with the atmospheric music playing in the background to provide you with a unique audio experience. Your experience will depend on what you do, and where you go as the world reacts differently each time. For example, if you are in middle of all these animals or plants, you will hear a plethora of noises but whilst in the middle of nowhere, it’ll be a calm and eerie silence.
Now, if you play it like I did, without knowing what this was all about, you’d probably have no idea how to progress through the game. Some might even ask, if this experience has goals set out for the players at all. Simply put, yes it does. The game does have goals for the players and it is to explore everything the island has to offer, through all seasons. So, after you are done with that, the game does have an end. However, how you progress is implemented in an interesting fashion and is the reason this game stands out.
The game basically follows a seamlessly placed day/night cycle in which the sun comes up for the day, and goes down for the night. After each day ends, white particles begin forming all around you, and ultimately into a circle. If you step in to these circles you’ll trigger a time lapse, and after each time lapse the season will smoothly and briskly change. Now, what I really love about these seasonal changes is how different each setting looks.
For example, when you enter Summer it is a whole new experience with the sun shining ever so brightly, the birds flying around you everywhere and the trees and grass around you are as vibrant as they can be. It looks amazingly beautiful. While on the other hand, during the fall, you’ll see the colors become more brown and moody, with the leaves falling all around you and the loneliness accompanying you. Basically put, every season has a different feel to it, definitely getting you excited for the next one just so you can see how it will look. The game finally ends in winter, but to not spoil your experience I wouldn’t describe it, just know that it is surreal.
All this wouldn’t have been possible if the game hadn’t looked unique and beautiful in the first place. The game’s visuals are in a point somewhere between 8-bit graphics and a modernistic painting. It is unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a game, and that is what makes it special. Furthermore, even though it is simple, it has a lot of depth to it in terms of visual clarity and by that I mean everything is clearly drawn and recognizable. So, you won’t be confusing treesor plants for animals or vice versa. Lastly, the particles in the game are nicely placed, like falling leaves, snow or just magical effects that further strengthen your experience.
The animals and little creatures are a fun addition as well and provide you with some really fun moments. For example, when you get near these rabbit like creatures they start hopping away from you and it is fun for a while just trying to keep up with them. Some creatures are really shy and hide underground once you get near them, it truly makes the world feel alive and responsive.
Control wise the gameplay is really fluid as you use your analog sticks to move and look around in both the PS ita and PS3 version, but where it truly excels is the Vita. With the Vita, if you hold the the L button, you can use the motion controls to look around. It is a seamlessly added feature to the Vita that works without a problem. Furthermore, when you press the X button to sit down, you can swipe on your touchpad on the back to change the color scheme, a nice little feature. Now, it might seem gimmicky after a while for some people, but you wouldn’t hear any complains from me as adding features that at least work are always good enough in my book. In order to save, you have to hold the R button to take a screenshot, these shots are called postcards. Postcards can be used to save your progress and can then be selected from the main menu to continue your playthrough from where you’ve left off.
Since this game is a cross-buy title, you can save the data on the cloud and pick it up from either console. In case you don’t know what cross-buy is, you get a copy for each platform (PS3 and Vita) for the price of one! The only tiny problem I have with this game is how slow your movement is and I think it could have benefited with a sprint or fast movement button that briskly takes you along the map. Lastly, to truly experience everything this game has to offer, you will have to replay the game multiple times as it is easy to miss some key moments during just a single playthrough.
It doesn’t matter if you will like the game or not, we can at least agree that it works beautifully and is in fact different. The game is a relaxing experience that can be completed each time in just under an hour, and is one that has beauty through both sounds and visual. However, since there aren’t any challenges in this game, or obstacles, some of you might not like it and thus I would recommend it for those that love a peaceful experience rather than an aggressive one. The music and visuals will take you on a beautiful journey. Just remember to give it multiple playthroughs though, you will miss something during the first one!