Perhaps it is easier to describe what Proteus is not, rather than what it is. Proteus has no objectives, in the traditional sense. There is no plot or story whatsoever. There are no people to interact with, nor bad guys to eliminate. There are no attributes to your persona, either. You are neither male nor female, warrior nor wizard, nor any other preconceived type of character. In fact, the only physical quality you may notice is upon leaving the game's island--an eyelid noticeably closes to darken the scene. Proteus is not your usual video game, and whether the end result is what developers Ed Key and David Kanaga originally envisioned or simply what it happened to become, I do not know.
But for all its lack of convention, Proteus is truly a magical game, one where you explore a beautifully imagined, yet randomly generated, island enhanced with some of the most tranquil music in gaming. There's your nutshell. At first realization of Proteus' conceptual limitation, I felt a little let-down, but I soon filed away my bias of what a game should be and allowed Proteus to show me the things it uniquely brings to our medium's table.
The first view presented at the game's onset is its island setting from a distance. The cel-shaded colors are bright and beautiful. I see trees, hills, a carpet of green grass, and a snow-capped mountain in the distance. As I move forward, I realize I am not alone. There are honking yellow flowers which zip back into the ground as I get close, as well as little creatures which hop away to a set of musical chords. A flock of flightless birds scatters away with its own distinctive music. This opening sequence is quite inviting, as is the array of colors that envelope the screen. Greens, browns, blues, and pastels create unique and beautiful--yet, simple--portraits of the island’s venues.