IndieCade 2011: Proteus

By Ozzie Mejia, Oct 26, 2011 6:00pm PDT

Along with the various conventional video games that can be found at IndieCade, the festival has also been home to some specialty titles that emphasize art moreso than gameplay. One of these titles is Proteus, a first-person exploration game from British-based developer, Twisted Tree Games. I was fortunate enough to take a hands-on look at the game, while also observing the reactions of convention-goers that tried the game out for themselves.

Proteus is designed with simplistic graphics reminiscent of older consoles, such as the Atari 2600. The game's main draw is a pressure-free environment, allowing for infinite exploration possibilities. The booth set up at IndieCade contained headphones, which allowed me to enjoy the game's other main drawing point — clear, ambient sound design. As I wandered around the wilderness, I heard the winds and the animal life surrounding me, as clear as if I was actually walking the environments, myself. If I took off into the ocean, I could hear the sound of the ocean, with waves crashing and birds flying overhead.

Proteus is purely an exercise in relaxation and exploring the surrounding environment without the pressures of accomplishing goals. As I played through the demo, other passersby started wearing the second pair of headphones and marveled at the game's sound design. After I finished up, I handed the controller off to a young child, who spent a large chunk of time looking around the wilderness and looking through various nooks and crannies to see what he could find.

After playing through the demo, Twisted Tree's Ed Key was happy to elaborate about what Proteus is. "There's no objective within the game," said Key. "It's more about observation and exploration and just like a strange sort of meditative experience. You see the day and night cycle and the passing of seasons, the strange creatures around you, and you hear a sort of ambient music that's tied to various places in the game."

Key also told me about how Proteus was originally inspired by Morrowind, but time spent in development quickly dictated the game's current ambience-based direction. He noted that the time spent developing the game's music also contributed to the decision to make Proteus more of an atmospheric type of experience.

There's an EP version of Proteus coming later this year, but if you can't wait to check it out, there's also a older demo of the game still available to check out. Proteus is currently planned for the PC, with the possibility of Mac and Linux versions down the road.

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