Platform Perfection: A Review Of Proteus (Vita)

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There’s been no shortage of prose about Proteus, and in a way, I feel like I’ve already reviewed it. It’s all well-deserved, though, for in the effortlessly calming walkabout there’s a sense of intrigue and subdued mystery at work; it simply delivers a feeling few games do.

Now, with Proteus available on more platforms that just the PC, we’re in the fortunate position of being able to ask which system it’s best to play Proteus on. With such a pure, evocative experience, is there a “right” platform?

Escapism is a tricky subject when talking about games. To many, it carries a negative connotation: games are used to free oneself from the pains of the real world. Worse yet, they’re used to live out fantasies of aggression.

But I’ve always thought of escapism differently. I’ve always felt that games help me visit worlds that I’d otherwise never be able to. For instance, I love Dragon Age because I’ve always adored the “band of misfits in a fantasy world” premise. I’ll never get to do that, so that kind of escape is really exciting for me.

Proteus on the Vita allows this kind of escapism anywhere. Playing this game on a gigantic monitor is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but the portability affords new opportunities to experience it. Elements like rolling hills and northern lights evoke the familiarity and comfort of a simpler life, while pink trees and herds of unknown animals provide a hint of mystery.

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The beauty of it is the mechanics. Everyone who holds a controller understands walking, and from there, players’ intrinsic curiosity draws them towards every aspect of the game. Perhaps the best example is simply the quest of reaching a new season–it just feels effortless, which is the best compliment you can pay to a game’s mechanics.

Wrapped together at a moment’s notice, in any environment you choose, all of these elements provide the perfect brand of escapism. It’s not only a beautiful way to experience a narrative, but it’s a beautiful way to create your own.

Some people will play Proteus and chase the owl, some will take a stroll down the coastline. Some will meticulously search for artifacts, others will make a game out of uncovering the musical cues. I’ve played a couple of times and just stopped at the Northern Lights–it’s one of those “escapist” moments for me. The Northern Lights are a real phenomena, but this is the closest I’m going to get to them for a long time. So yeah, I take my time with them.

Thinking about it, it’s completely ridiculous that a few pixelated, wavy lines could really evoke that kind of feeling. But they do, and that’s all that matters.