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djvlive avatar 10:58 AM on 01.31.2013  (server time)
Indie Mini-Review: Proteus

67 Minutes. That's how long my Steam library has said I've played Proteus.

I can say it was a very interesting and engaging 67 minutes; however it was over much too quickly.

Proteus, the indie exploration game by Ed Key and David Kanaga, was released today on Steam and via the Humble Bundle store.

Proteus takes place on a coastal island where the mysterious protagonist can wander freely with no goals, objectives, or incentives. Proteus is a game mainly for the eyes and ears. It features a very visually pleasing 8 bit meets Minecraft look and a sound environment that changes as you interact with objects around you.

The soundtrack (composed by David Kanaga) is excellent. The objects you can interact with produce sounds that fit in perfectly with the backing track in a sort of tonal avant-garde arrangement. There are 4 in-game seasons, each with a day/night cycle, as well as different sound arrangements based on where you are standing (ie: on mountain top, near a circle of trees, etc).

And that's it really. Simultaneously it's greatest strength and failure lays in it's music structure.

Strength because it's so good. Failure because it's too short.

Proteus is really more of an interactive ambient album then a game.

While the island is randomly generated each time the game starts, all landmarks are the same- only differing in their locations to each other. There are a handful of interactive objects: frogs, birds, bees, storms, snow, rocks; but these only serve as quaint markings on an overall barren landscape.

Discovering how to navigate the seasons is relatively simple and after about 20-25 minutes or so, you've heard and seen most of everything the island offers.

That isn't to say it's not without a few great moments. I personally greatly enjoyed the fall night theme; and even had a frighteningly surreal moment when a circle of statues created a nightmarish clone of myself who ran off into the night.

In 67 minutes I played through the island 3 times, experiencing several days in all four seasons. I'm sure I haven't heard everything yet but I did see just about everything.

A few genius exploration moments here sprinkled with the listening of a great ambient recording there. A solid purchase, if you like that sort of thing. The only thing I really have against the game is the lack of included soundtrack.

I'd give it a 7 out of 10. Worth buying just for the experience, even if it's only a short one.

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