Proteus

IMAGE(http://indiegames.com/2013/01/29/proteus%202.png)

Just finished a playthrough of Proteus, an interesting little indie "non-game" in approximately the same ballpark as Dear Esther (note: it's a big ballpark). Unlike Dear Esther it doesn't have a plot or a fixed world - instead a new island is generated when you start playing, and you just sort of putter around it exploring and interacting with what you find there. Despite the crude graphics, it's really quite charming. It's strongest feature is a procedurally generated soundtrack that responds to what you're doing and where you are, which somehow really helps draw you in. My only real criticism is that I found the pacing just a touch slow. The movement speed is fine, it can just take a little longer than I would have liked between things happening. That said, it only took me a bit under an hour to do a single playthrough.

It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I definitely recommend it if you're in the mood for a relaxing, smelly-hippy non-game experience.

It's on Steam, or can be bought direct from the developers here.

It really is a pretty game, I love the look of it and the music, and I love the animals that run around.

I've found a lot of strange things, and they seem to get even stranger at night. Standing near some objects when the stars are out leads to some interesting effects.

I'd played the beta, so I generally knew what to expect, but wandering the island and listening to the music respond was delightful.

IMAGE(http://isaackarth.com/files/public/2013-01-31_00008.jpg)

Don't come in expecting to interact with a lot of things. This is a walk in the woods listening to the birds and the music of nature, with standing stones marking the drumbeats.

Antichamber has my attention for the time being, but this will definitely stay on the wishlist until the time seems right.

This is pretty rad.
I was caught off guard that

Spoiler:

there is kind of an "end"

Also, the help says f9 takes a snapshot which I took to mean a screenshot, but it's not, it's a save game so you can return to the same world if there is one you particularly like (or a particular time of day or season)

And there can be (not a lot, but some) significant differences between worlds, I've seen things in my second go through that simply weren't there the first time.

Ian Bogost has written three reviews of Proteus in one.

IMAGE(http://www.gamasutra.com/db_area/images/feature/186735/proteus_shot1.jpg)

A lot of times when I link to a review of something, it's because the review agrees with what I think about the subject. Or it's because I want to argue with it. In this case, while I'd already thought about the first two parts, by the time I got to the third I was reading about using Proteus in a way I hadn't thought about it before.

I just picked this up and have been wandering around a bit.

Initial thoughts: I wish there was a little more interactivity, but it's really quite lovely and enjoyable in its own right. The sound is a huge part of this game and it works well on my TV / surround sound / gamepad setup (yay, Steam Big Picture Mode!). I do find myself wishing the visuals and the sound had somewhat higher fidelity; the 8-bit style partially falls down for me because there's so much repetition of objects. I know there are technical and time constraints, but the joy of exploration is muted a bit by the same-y nature of the landscape.

In addition to actually playing the game, I've been leaving it on in the background while taking care of my 21 month old. She digs it, and every now and then she goes and plays with the controller, moving around as best she can. At one point I chased what seemed like a frog around, and it jumped in a pond - she became really bummed that it was gone, and started yelling "frog! frog!" until I managed to find another one.

If nothing else it's worth the price of admission just to give her something neat to interact with which has 1) no killing and 2) no fail states. That's not the kind of video game you see very often.

When I started this game I thought it was going to be an explore and discover game where you have to find your way around on your own. I was really quite confused for the first 20 minutes until I realized that there really is no objective aside from walking around. An interesting idea for sure but I feel once is enough for me.

The objective, aside from walking around, is to change the seasons, but I totally get your point. I also didn't feel especially compelled to play through it again. I'm glad I did, because I did see some new things, but I could easily have gone without.

I think the changing-the-seasons thing actually detracts from it a bit, because it sets the expectation that there are more things to interact with, and I think the only other thing that does anything much is the circle of statues on the hill.

The real feedback, for me, is listening to how island sounds different at different points. Looking around for hidden visual/mechanical interactions distracts from that. It'd be a purer experience if it committed fully to one way or the other.

Gremlin wrote:

I think the changing-the-seasons thing actually detracts from it a bit, because it sets the expectation that there are more things to interact with, and I think the only other thing that does anything much is the circle of statues on the hill.

The real feedback, for me, is listening to how island sounds different at different points. Looking around for hidden visual/mechanical interactions distracts from that. It'd be a purer experience if it committed fully to one way or the other.

I think even knowing that there's a "trigger" for anything is a spoiler for this game. I went in completely cold, and had thoroughly built an expectation that I wasn't supposed to "do" anything before I found the stones, so I guess I just assumed that they were completely unique in the world.

I do still think this game needs something more, though. My general sense is that the environment is not diverse enough and exploration outside of the stones is not rewarding enough. That could be addressed with more interactivity with other elements, or just more "unique" objects or interesting geometry.

When I played this morning for the first time I saw these wisps from the top of a hill making noise. So I though I stumbled upon something and followed them thinking they were going to lead me somewhere. Eventually I realizing I was walking in a circle.