For our new segment on reviewing the monthly PS Plus Instant Game Collection offerings, I fired up the Vita, downloaded Proteus and settled down to see what it’s all about.
So, what can I say about Proteus? Well, first would be that Proteus is not a game. I mean not in the sense that Mario Kart, Skyrim or Papers Please are games. It’s not even a game in the way that Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls are games. In the latter two, there was at least some point to the on-screen goings-on, regardless of how you felt about not actually controlling the action.
In Proteus, there is no story, no plot, no goings on, no point at all really. Upon loading the game, I found myself floating above the sea, looking at an island a short way away. I floated towards the island and discovered a group of chickens pecking around the place, which scurried away as soon as I got close. I also encountered a few sheep and an owl in my brief time on the island.
There are trees and mountains with snow on them. There are even the occasional “enchanted ruins”, which you can’t actually enter. The sun sets and rises. Big clouds form and rain falls. Various animals and birds flee before you. And you can sit. That’s… that’s about it. If I had to sum up this game in one word, it’d be “pointless”.
Video gaming is a new and growing art form, one in which developers are busy exploring different themes and styles, refining their craft. But to me, this kind of game making is as pretentious as some modern “artist” who hangs a blank canvas on the wall and calls it “Exploration of the plight of modern man and his inherent emotional need to be loved”. Proteus is not art. It’s a blank canvas upon which a game could have been painted.
Some might say that I have simply failed to grasp the point. That just being in the game world is the magic of Proteus. That I’ve failed to see that since my own movement within that world affects the soundtrack, the game is actually much deeper than I’ve given it credit for. That having the freedom to “explore” what the island has to offer is really a liberating, empowering experience. It’s not. It’s plain boring.
Wondering if I was just being some kind of elitist arse, I asked my fiancé to play it without telling her anything about it. Play as long as you like, I said. After about 3 minutes she said, “I’m feeling sleepy. What’s the point of this anyway?” After I informed her that there really is none besides “exploring” the island, she gave me a look of contempt mingled with disbelief, put the Vita down and left the room.
The following is written on the store’s Proteus page about the title, “Proteus is a game about exploration and immersion in a dream-like island world where the soundtrack to your play is created by your surroundings.” Dream-like is apt in that 5 minutes of playing had my head nodding, too. The floaty pace, the slow, melancholic soundtrack. The complete lack of anything to actually do, or think about. It all conspired to put me to sleep.
I know there are going to be people who love this game. They will find it’s soundtrack relaxing and will be exhilarated to explore the island at their leisure. For those people, enjoy! For everyone else, even as a ‘free’ PS Plus game, I can’t bring myself to recommend it, other than if you just want to see why I’m being such a jerk about it. For those not on Plus, to pay £9.99 for it is sheer madness. Watch a YouTube video of it for 5 minutes and you’ll know all you ever needed to about it. Either that or you’ll wake up the next morning after the best nights sleep you’ve had in months.
My fiancé asked me as I was downloading Proteus if reviewing a game took the fun out of playing it. I said only if the game is crap, since I have to keep playing it even if I don’t really want to. After playing Proteus I told her, “Thank God there’s bugger all to do in that game, otherwise I’d have had to keep playing the bloody thing”.
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Sebastian has been playing games since the age of 8, cutting his teeth with Nintendo and Sega, and now can usually be found dying repeatedly in online FPS’s. Really, he should just quit. Open world RPG’s and grand strategy games also see him lose his sense of reality for several months of the year. You won’t find him on twitter though since he lives in a cave