It always begins the same way, with an ocean, or at least a body of water. I know this because there are pixels that give the impression of light reflecting off waves, the faint sound of the sea, and an island of some sort in the distance. I spin around, to get my bearings (and then have to restart when I notice the mouse is inverted by default and can’t figure out how to get back to the options screen), and head towards the only point of interest.
The movement is floaty and there are limited options for interacting, with only movement and the option to sit down seemingly available. So I explore, just as the soothing music starts, day quickly becoming night, and rain falling. And that’s where things get weird. Things start falling from the sky, the music gets more intense, and yet it’s somehow still soothing. I’ve never discovered a secret gathering of wood sprites hanging underneath moonlight in a forest, but I imagine it would have a similar feeling about it.
Onwards I travel, my only aim to explore and discover, my only options to move or stop. I follow a rabbit-like creature until it jumps into the ocean, gone forever. Seemingly every nook on this impossibly-scaled island has something, a hut, a decrepit tower, but it’s up to me to invent stories for them, and nothing to do besides look at them.
I once visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, completely intoxicated, and this is the most similar experience I’ve had yet. It’s no way near as profound an experience, and I’m given to racing across the landscape rather than taking time to enjoy things properly, but I think that’s because there are (deliberately) no details in this land to dwell on. On the other hand, I’m given to truly admire how given to symbols us humans are. Big, chunky loosely arranged pixels can be recognisable, even familiar, and this really is the strength of the game.
It’s not a game however, not in any true sense of the word, it’s more of an installation, a digital gallery, if you will. As such, there comes a point where you feel like you’ve seen it all, and are ready to move on.
I wonder if at some time in the future, I’ll come back to Proteus, maybe invite someone else to guide me through its freshly created world, but until then I’m left with a sense, a fleeting memory, of a place I’ve never really been to, and no longer exists.
Performance & Quality
Despite the complete apparent lack of detail, we noticed some minor dips on frame rate at some points, at least, enough to detract from the experience somewhat. That aside, the game runs well windowed or (preferably) full screen.