Have You Played… Proteus?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

It’s a challenge to effectively portray the peculiar emotional effect of playing Proteus [official site]. Perhaps the flagship entry in the RPS-celebrated ‘walking simulator’ genre, it’s a pixel painting of seasonal wonder.

A uniquely generated space is crafted for each new game, and then you wander about in it. And really, that’s it. The magic is in the wandering. The world is filled with intricately animated flora and fauna, colours shift, day turns to night, different creatures and behaviours appear, and as you progress the seasons shift through a year.

Sound is incredibly crucial. As you move around the world, where you go, what you explore, dynamically changes the music you hear. You begin to realise that through your movement you create this joyful sound, embellishing an already wonderful experience into something spectacular. And the results are something that cause me absolute elation. Proteus taps into something important inside of me, and creates a glorious place to be. You should go there too.


  1. Vacuity729 says:

    Yes, I have. Occasionally, just occasionally, I have genuinely awful days at work. When that happens, I play Proteus. Its soundscape, delightful visuals, and natural progression through the seasons from lively spring to tranquil, almost deathly, winter provide a near perfect system for unwinding stress and mental tension.
    I don’t know if it would work well if I played it often, but I only have days like that very rarely, and Proteus is my refuge from them.

  2. Scandalon says:


  3. DingDongDaddio says:

    I wish I hadn’t, boy it frustrates me. Not much more fun than picking out a new wallpaper or screensaver – but at least a screensaver plays itself. This is just actively wasting my time.

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    phuzz says:

    One of the few games where you can ask someone “have you listened to the graveyard in autumn?” and still make some kind of sense.

  5. GallonOfAlan says:

    I have played it, it bored the arse off me.

    YMM, as ever, V.

    I don’t regret paying for it as I’m happy to support this sort of endeavour but it turns out I like a bit more ‘game’ than this offers.

    • onodera says:

      A bit more game and a bit more fidelity in my case. Firewatch is pretty, Proteus looks like a tech demo from the times before VGA.

  6. Risingson says:

    Proteus, again. Wonderful tech demo, shallow as an experience.

  7. iainl says:

    Not nearly as much as I should. More games should, like this, aspire to the emotional response of a Nils Frahm LP, rather than the usual wish to be a Michael Bay film.

    • Risingson says:

      High culture vs low culture, again. IN VIDEOGAMES.

      You can enjoy both things, you know. And maybe Nils Frahm would be offended for that comparison, in the sense that Frahm is fun as well.

      • RobF says:

        It’s not really high vs low culture to suggest that more games should aspire to be something more than Michael Bay movies, surely?

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Nobody said you couldn’t enjoy both. They just suggested that it would be nice if there were more of the former to enjoy.

  8. Velox says:

    That’s one of the games I’d really like to play using some kind of VR equipment..

  9. Zeroebbasta says:

    I played it, and found it to be incredibly creepy. The aerie music, the too-perfect garden… I dunno, it gives me the chills.

  10. RobF says:

    It’s still one of my favourite things. So yeah, played it and played it a lot. It’s wonderful.

  11. aircool says:

    Utter pish!

  12. bunionbell says:

    Not much of a “game”, all the better for it

  13. elderman says:

    Played it and loved it. Still one of my favourite gaming experiences. The end was lovely, too. I wasn’t sure there was going to be one and when it came it was perfect, by my lights.

  14. Rogerio Martins says:

    Yes, awful game with absolutely no purpose or entertainment value to me. I’m completely oblivious to the things that make this hollow shell so interesting to people.

    Glad that people are enjoying it, it’s a shame that I couldn’t think of a single thing that makes this good.

  15. anHorse says:

    I walked around a bit and couldn’t find anything to do or even anything interesting. It wasn’t abstract it was just lacking in anything

    I haven’t played it since, one of the few games RPS recommended/reviewed well which I couldn’t see any appeal in.

  16. ansionnach says:

    It was an interesting idea and it does have its own beauty, but I ultimately found it a waste of money as it was a fairly shallow experience.

  17. Velleic says:

    Despite the fact that I haven’t actually played it very much, Proteus was worth every penny for me.
    Was a bit dubious about it at first – went through the season cycle and thought “was that all?”.
    But whenever I’m stressed, I always start up Proteus. The fact that there are no goals or objectives whatsoever leaves me free to simply watch and listen to the sunset and the changing seasons, and wash all the stress away.

  18. icarussc says:

    I loved it so, so much. The ending aurora/close sequence is the only time that a game made me tear up.

    For quite a while, on rainy or otherwise gloomy, polluted days (of which there are far more than otherwise here in Shanghai), I’d play it with my kids after school as a sort of substitute for the beautiful Canadian wilderness I grew up with but they haven’t experienced much.

  19. Unsheep says:

    I liked the game, but would have liked it even more if it had some some form of gameplay element, like Eidolon or Path to Thalamus, or some kind of interesting backstory for you to discover, like Dear Esther.

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    alison says:

    This is one of my favorite walking sims of all time. I never had a console so i missed the whole Rez thing, but Proteus reminded me of interviews with Brian Eno and all those nutty professor ambient guys who were into procedural music and interactive soundscapes and whatnot. Playing it i felt like i was walking around in Conway’s Life, in a Future Sound of London video, in some bizarre virtual reality that should have existed in the 90s, but never quite did. The story is touching on the first playthrough, but even after the initial discovery there is something really magical about revisiting the experience. It’s an alien space, but it’s beautiful and comforting and very organic. It’s everything great about electronic music, computer graphics and interactive gameplay bundled up into a 15 minute hit. It’s sad some people are looking for more of a game out of it. I see it as a perfect example of what cyberspace should be.