Review: Proteus (PS3/PSV)


Title: Proteus
Format: PlayStation Network Download (174 MB total)
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Curve Studios
Developer: Curve Studios
Original MSRP:  $12.49 (Cross-Buy)
ESRB Rating: E
Proteus is also available on PC and Mac OS X. This is a Cross-Buy title.
The PlayStation Network download and PS Vita versions were used for this review.

Wander around an 8-bit wilderness until you’ve had enough. That’s basically all the “game” has to offer.

At the outset, you appear, in first person, disembodied, floating above a body of water. You push the left stick to move and the right stick to angle the camera. Your only choice now is to go toward a nearby 8-bit island. So you go. And then you wander the island. Eventually some other islands appear and you go and wander them. Marvel at the change of seasons, weather and day/night cycles. Then wander more. Then go to bed. Not in the “game” but in real life.

There are groups of pixels who act somewhat like animals scurrying or hopping out of your way. Every time they do they make a horrible racket.

So the “game” ends when, oh wait. It doesn’t end. I mean, it does end by turning it off. The word online is that Proteus has an identifiable ending and that most people won’t understand it and may not get it as the end.

The PS Vita version creates islands for you to peruse based on the Vita’s GPS determining your location. There is an online commercial of a guy in Europe wandering the wilderness, Vita in hand, while Proteus uses his GPS to create a similar 8-bit world to the one he’s walking through. First, the GPS in the new PS Vita model will only work via WIFI and not by true GPS so soon the feature will be largely meaningless as depicted. The generated Proteus world will not be like the real world you’re recklessly roaming by looking at your game screen. Do not play this “game” while operating heavy machinery nor while walking anywhere! That is actually very stupid.

Ever wonder what a GTA game would be like with no theft, no autos and on a small scale, say, less-than-grand? Now imagine Minecraft with no tools, monsters or the ability to do little more than make grass hide. People don’t play Minecraft because of the pixels. It’s a fun game with a specific art style. Proteus is all style but in a far more cynical way.

Fez and Minecraft had a baby.

Pixelated animals become self-aware, realize how ugly they are and make appropriately annoying squawks and squeaks while strange plants sense you hovering near and shriek and burrow. At least that is my interpretation of this 8-bit bandwagon-rider.

The sound is not musical. The noises generated by the flora and fauna made it necessary to turn down my sound system so the neighbors didn’t come running to help me. There is no music to speak of, although Curve Studios keeps saying there is music in the way the world noises become cacophonous while you “play”.

This game is single player only.

I wanted to like Proteus. I want to like everything. I want to find a gem every time I review another game. I generally think game creators are artists trying their best to make something unique and special for us ground-dwellers to feel good about, something for us to play that helps elevate us somehow. But at the very least they should make a game when they say they’ve made a game. And when they make interactive art they should say that as well. Curve Studios has not said that about Proteus even though it is truly not a game. It’s not very exciting interactive art either.

It makes me wonder to a higher degree whether this whole thing has been a joke perpetrated on the entire gaming universe to see how much crap we’d swallow.

This computer program you run on your gaming console is all app and not real art. It feels like a true cash-in. It feels like the emperor strutting around and shouting, “How about this art, baby?!” And I feel like the kid who shouts, “Hey Proteus! I can see your Proboscis!”

Proteus is what you’d buy if you had finished the internet.


Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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