Proteus is a peaceful first-person exploration game set on a cheery pixellated island. There are no enemies. You can’t die. You can’t jump, shoot, dodge or pick anything up. Your only objective is to roam, observe and enjoy the evolving soundtrack triggered by your path. You’ll encounter more danger doing a lap of Kew Gardens than exploring Proteus’s serene, procedurally generated world.
"Your only objective is to roam, observe and enjoy the evolving soundtrack." Once you’ve spawned at sea and wandered ashore, you can start getting a feel for the island’s layout. Every playthrough rearranges a series of geographical elements that you’ll come to recognise, like an abandoned shack, some mysterious ruins, and a strange circle of stone animal carvings that regularly grace the peak of one of Proteus’s easily scaled mountains.
By day, there’s no purpose to your exploration. At night, you’ll discover a delightful way to shift the island to its next phase, which I won’t spoil. The change alters the island’s weather, colour palette and wildlife, and evolves the soundscape.
If you have a decent pair of headphones, plug them in for Proteus. The island responds to your rambling with a deeply satisfying emergent arrangement. The hop and flutter of Proteus’s creatures is accompanied by an electronic riff. The hoot of a digitised clarinet serves as the call of an owl. Flies swarm to the scattered notes of a frenzied cyber-fiddle. Rain falls in cascading chimes. I charged into the midst of every gaggle of monsters and absorbed the resulting wall of sound with childish glee.
"The joy faded in the latter stage - I found myself walking aimlessly, unstimulated and bored." Proteus captured me completely for the first 20 minutes. I found a weird hopping box creature, and chased it into the sea. I discovered a glittering fallen star that leapt away from my advances. I chased that into the sea as well. Its cheerful chirping fell silent as it vanished beneath the waves, replaced by the calm orchestral hum of the tides and a faint sense of regret. As darkness fell, the sky was suddenly sliced apart by a gleaming meteor shower. With no clear objectives, the joy of discovering the unexpected is the only reason to keep going. That was enough, for a while.
The joy faded in the latter stage of Proteus’s 45-minute arc. The creatures that make the first half feel so busy and interesting become increasingly sparse. I found myself walking aimlessly, unstimulated and bored. Proteus’s bubbling symphony has a disappointing coda, and you may feel shortchanged by its length.
The procedural generation offers a reason to restart, but the island felt deeply familiar in my playthroughs. Players on Proteus’s forums mention a couple of surreal, well-hidden secrets, but my experience each time was largely identical, and I found no deeper meaning or binding narrative to the island’s mysterious landmarks. Proteus is mood music. If you’re looking for a soothing green oasis to return to every now and then, this will do the job nicely.
Expect to pay: $11 / £7 Release: Out now Developer: Ed Key and David Kanaga Publisher: Twisted Tree Multiplayer: No, lol Link: www.visitproteus.com
BAFTA have released the nomination shortlist for the upcoming 2013 round of their Video Game awards. PS3 exclusive Journey tops the nomination leaderboard - it's up for eight categories. But Telltale's The Walking Dead and Ubisoft's Far Cry 3 aren't far behind, receiving nods in seven and six categories respectively. There's also strong indie recognition. Dear Esther is nominated for five awards, Thomas Was Alone for three, and both Proteus and Super Hexagon both receive a mention.
The ceremony takes place on March 5th, and will streamed live on Twitch.tv. Tune in to find out if we live in a world where CoDBlOps2 can be given an award for "Game Innovation".
Full list below:
Action Borderlands 2 Development Team Gearbox/2K Games Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Development Team Treyarch/Activision Far Cry 3 Dan Hay, Patrick Plourde, Patrik Methe Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Halo 4 Development Team 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios Hitman: Absolution Development Team Io – Interactive/Square-Enix Mass Effect 3 Development Team BioWare/EA
Artistic Achievement Borderlands 2 Development Team Gearbox/2K Games Dear Esther Robert Briscoe Thechineseroom/thechineseroom Far Cry 3 Jean Alexis Doyan, Genseki Tanaka, Vincent Jean Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Halo 4 Development Team 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe The Room Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games
Audio Achievement Assassin's Creed III Mathieu Jeanson Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Beat Sneak Bandit Simon Flesser, Magnus "Gordon" Gardebäck, Simogo/Simogo Dear Esther Jessica Curry Thechineseroom/thechineseroom Far Cry 3 Dan Hay, Tony Gronick, Brian Tyler Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Halo 4 Development Team 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Best Game Dishonoured Development Team Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks Far Cry 3 Dan Hay, Patrick Plourde, Patrik Methè Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft FIFA 13 David Rutter, Nick Channon, Aaron McHardy EA Canada/EA Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Mass Effect 3 Casey Hudson BioWare/EA The Walking Dead Development Team Telltale Games/Telltale
British Game Dear Esther Daniel Pinchbeck, Robert Briscoe, Jessica Curry Thechineseroom/thechineseroom Forza Horizon Development Team Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios LEGO: The Lord of the Rings Development Team TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment Need for Speed Most Wanted Development Team Criterion Games/EA The Room Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games Super Hexagon Terry Cavanagh, Niamh Houston, Jenn Frank Terry Cavanagh/Terry Cavanagh
Debut Game Deadlight Raul Rubio, Luz Sancho, Oscar Cuesta Tequila Works/Microsoft Studios Dear Esther DanielPinchbeck, Robert Briscoe, Jessica Curry Thechineseroom/thechineseroom Forza Horizon Development Team Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios Proteus Ed Key, David Kanaga Twisted Tree Games/Twisted Tree Games The Room Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games The Unfinished Swan Ian Dallas, Nathan Gary Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Game Design Borderlands 2 Development Team Gearbox/2K Games Dishonored Development Team Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks Far Cry 3 Patrick Methè, Jamie Keen Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe The Walking Dead Development Team Telltale Games/Telltale XCOM: Enemy Unknown Development Team Firaxis/2K Games
Family Clay Jam Chris Roem Iain Gilfeather, Michael Movel Fat Pebble/Zynga Just Dance 4 Alkis Argyriadis, Matthew Tomkinson, Veronique Halbrey Ubisoft Paris/Ubisoft LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Jon Burton, Jonathan Smith, John Hodskinson TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment LEGO the Lord of the Rings Development Team TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment Minecraft: XBOX 360 Edition Development Team Mojang/4J Studios/Microsoft Studios Xbox LIVE Arcade Skylanders Giants Paul Reiche, Fred Ford, Scott Krager Toys For Bob/Activision
Game Innovation Call of Duty: Black Ops II Development Team Treyarch/Activision Fez Development Team Polytron Corporation/Microsoft Studios Xbox LIVE Arcade Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Kinect Sesame Street TV Development Team Soho Productions/Microsoft Studios The Unfinished Swan Ian Dallas, Nathan Gary Development Team Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Wonderbook: Books of Spells Development Team London Studio/ Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Mobile & Handheld Incoboto Dene Carter Fluttermind/Fluttermind LittleBigPlanet (Vita) Tom O'Connor, Mattias Nygren, Lee Hutchinson Tarsier Studios/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe New Star Soccer Simon Read New Star Games/New Star Games The Room Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games Super Monsters Ate My Condo Development Team Adult Swim Games/Adult Swim Games The Walking Dead Development Team Telltale Games/Telltale
Online - Browser Amateur Surgeon Hospital Development Team Mediatonic/Adult Swim Games Dick and Dom's HOOPLA! Adam Clay Team Cooper/CBBC Merlin: The Game Development Team Bossa Studios/Bossa Studios Runescape Development Team Jagex/Jagex The Settlers Online Christopher Schmitz, Guido Schmidt, Rainer Reber Blue Byte Software/Ubisoft SongPop Olivier Michon, Thibaut Crenn, Daouna Jeong FreshPlanet/FreshPlanet
Online - Multiplayer Assassin's Creed III Damien Kieken, Mathieu Granjon, Yann Le Guyader Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Borderlands 2 DevelopmentTeam Gearbox/2K Games Call of Duty: Black Ops II Development Team Treyarch/Activision Halo 4 Development Team 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Need For Speed Most Wanted Development Team Criterion Games/EA
Original Music Assassin's Creed III Lorne Balfe Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Diablo III Development Team Blizzard Entertainment/ Blizzard Entertainment Journey Austin Wintory That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Thomas Was Alone David Housden Mike Bithell/Mike Bithell The Unfinished Swan Joel Corlitz, Ian Dallas, Peter Scaturro Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe The Walking Dead Development Team Telltale Games/Telltale
Performer Adrian Hough (Haytham) - Assassin's Creed III Danny Wallace (The Narrator) - Thomas Was Alone Dave Fennoy (Lee Everett) - The Walking Dead Melissa Hutchinson (Clementine) - The Walking Dead Nigel Carrington (The Narrator) - Dear Esther Nolan North (Nathan Drake) - Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Sports/Fitness FIFA 13 David Rutter, Nick Channon, Aaron McHardy EA Canada/EA F1 2012 Development Team Codemasters Birmingham/Codemasters Racing Forza Horizon Development Team Playground Games/Turn10 Studios/Microsoft Studios New Star Soccer Simon Read New Star Games/New Star Games Nike+ Kinect Training Development Team Sumo Digital Ltd/Microsoft Studios Trials Evolution Development Team Antti llvessup, Kim Lahti RedLynx/Microsoft Studios
Story Dishonoured Development Team Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks Far Cry 3 Jeffrey Yohalem, Lucien Soulban, Jeffrey Yohalem Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Mass Effect 3 Mac Walters BioWare/EA Thomas was Alone Mike Bithell Mike Bithell/Mike Bithell The Walking Dead Development Team Telltale Games/Telltale
Strategy Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Development Team From Software/Namco Bandai Games Diablo III Development Team Blizzard Entertainment/Blizzard Entertainment Football Manager 2013 Development Team Sports Interactive/SEGA Great Big War Game David Moss, Steve Venezia, Paul Johnson Rubicon Development/Rubican Development Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai Development Team The Creative Assembly/SEGA XCOM: Enemy Unknown Development Team Firaxis/2K Games
BAFTA Ones to Watch Award in association with Dare to Be Digital Pixel Story Martin Cosens, Thomas McParland, Ashley Hayes, Benhamin Rushton, Luke Harrison (Loan Wolf Games) Project Thanatos Hugh Laird, Andrew Coles, Thomas Laird, Alexandra Shapland, Thomas Kemp (Raptor Games) Starcrossed Kimi Sulopuisto, Vili Viitaniemi, Minttu Meriläinen, Petri Liuska, Andrew MacLean (Kind of a Big Deal)
Given that they've been recognising games for a few years now, shouldn't BAFTA update their acronym to reflect the fact? BAFTGA, maybe? BAGFTA? Perhaps not.