Developer(s) – Curve Studios
Designer(s) – Ed Key & David Kanaga
PEGI – 3
Recently made free to play to PlayStation Plus subscribers, Proteus is a game, which simply has players waling around an open world and not doing much of anything else. To me, it is an awful wretched game, whereby it’s biggest and most interesting talking point is in its development history; like many other games of its kind. Originally, Proteus was intended to be an RPG in the same ilk as Skyrim or Oblivion, but when the developers realized the extent of the work, which would have to been put into it to make that happen, they instead decided to make a game, which was in their own words “non-traditional and non-violent”. Even Sony insisted that more content be added to the final product before they ported it to PlayStation consoles, but the lead developer, Ed Key, admitted that he and the creators never attempted to steer the direction of the development of these features, adding only a minor facility to the PlayStation Vita port of the game. To me, Ed Key has made Proteus sound like the most half-hearted video game ever developed, and it was certainly made apparent to me whilst playing.
Graphics – 6/10
One of the few aspects I can give at least a small amount of credit for is its visual style. The scenery is made heavy use of pixel art and makes for a few things in the game to marvel at; though not a lot. There have been many more indie games that I have played and reviewed this year that have stood out to a much greater extent than this; games like Don’t Starve and Chronicles of a Dark Lord. There was much more thought put into the visual concepts of those two games than there was in this, and by that token alone, make this game pale in comparison; although the soundtrack to this game is also pretty relaxing and well done as well.
Gameplay – 0/10
As I stated before, Proteus is a game whereby there are no objectives or things to do but to walk around a randomly generated in-game open world. I’m all for open worlds in video gaming, but not empty ones void of things to do. It’s because of this that I even hesitate to call Proteus a video game. Some people have gone so far as to label it an anti-game, which many actually consider being controversial, but to the people who have coined that term, I say good call. The game makes for no entertainment as well as no replay value, and it’s a wonder to me why the developers ever bothered to release it at all.
Controls – 4/10
Though there aren’t a lot of faults with the game’s control scheme, the fact of the matter is there wasn’t a lot for the developers to get wrong, as the game makes use of only a few buttons on the controller. Aside from the movement being pretty stiff, the fact that there’s nothing to do in the game warrants little use for most buttons, which certainly by today’s standards is embarrassing.
Lifespan – 2/10
To complete the game’s one arbitrary objective of changing through seasons in quick succession before the credits roll will take about 40 minutes. But beyond that, the game will only last about as long as the player’s interest, which shouldn’t be any longer. My own personal interest didn’t even last long enough for me to want to finish it. The game can be finished multiple times in quick succession, but I only consider that t be part of the problem.
Storyline – 0/10
Not only does this game not have any kind of narrative attached to it, but there’s nothing in the way of a basic premise either. Nor did I find any kind of abstract or elaborate story elements open to any kind of interpretation whatsoever. It’s a shame that developers couldn’t even be bothered to add some kind of premise to the game to make it even vaguely more interesting than it turned out to be.
Originality – 0/10
This game is also in no way, shape, or form unique. Though the developers called this a non-traditional game, it doesn’t establish any warranted new video game traditions or break any boundaries of any kind. It lacks everything that a gamer would want in a game and introduces nothing new that a gamer may want to see in one.
In summation, Proteus is a catastrophic excuse for a piece of software that shouldn’t really be considered a video game; easily the worst game I’ve played this year so far. Even by the lead developer’s own admission, it’s a title that turned out to be less than what he initially wanted it to be. So in effect, it’s unfinished work, and credit should never be given for incomplete work.