There is something wonderful about exploration. As gamers we’ve been conditioned to explore all corners of our digital environment, for there could be untold treasures waiting around the bend, be it a cache of ammunition, or a shiny new sword. It’s this kind of reward that has kept us pushing forward. But, what if there was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? What if just exploring the landscape was the reward?

Welcome to Proteus.

Currently in beta, IGF nominee, Proteus is a game that strips open-world exploration down to the bare essentials. There are no objectives, no combat, you can’t even jump. It’s just you and a randomly generated island. As the player you are left to explore your surroundings as you see fit.

Upon first glance it would appear easy to dismiss Proteus as unstimulating, but given a little time with it, it soon becomes apparent that it is an example of a video game pushing the interactive entertainment medium forward.

As you begin to traverse your surroundings, you quickly come to the realisation that all elements of the island emit their own unique sound. From the gentle electronic hum of a forest to the strange blooping of the frog-like creatures that inhabit the island, all audio components harmoniously meld together to create an interactive soundscape.

By taking natural sounds familiar to the human ear and blending them with digital, almost alien counterparts, composer, David Kanaga, has contributed some absolutely stellar audio work to the game. Which when combined with the 3D space, essentially allows the player to create their own minimalistic ambient soundtrack as they venture deeper onto the island.

From a visual standpoint, Proteus has a beautiful low-fi aesthetic; it’s the love-child of Minecraft and Microsoft Paint. Rendered using blocks of solid colour, and both 2D and 3D elements, the island has a recognisable, but, dreamlike quality to it. It also features complete day and night cycles, weather patterns and seasonal changes all of which act as variables for the sounds dynamically generated on the island.

It’s incredibly easy to lose an hour to the surrealist trappings of Proteus. The combination of audio/visual components compliment each other in a perfectly hypnotic way, lulling the player into a zen-like state.

Proteus is the video game equivalent of a relaxation CD, but, it’s the coolest relaxation CD ever made. It’s an extremely pure experience and one like no other in recent memory. For that reason alone it’s definitely one to watch, or should that be, listen out for.

Proteus is available for pre-order on the official website, doing so grants you instant access to the latest build and all future updates.

Website: http://www.visitproteus.com

Developers: Ed Key & David Kanaga

Format: Windows, with OSX and Linux builds forthcoming.

Release Date: Autumn 2012