Proteus is the sixth piece of interactive fiction I’ve played.
Interactive fiction can be thought of as on two dimensions, the extent to which the game focuses on the “player” (who he is, why he is there, and so on) and the extent to which the game focuses on the environment (the emotions it evokes, the thoughts it provokes, and so on).
This allows us to create a simple 2×2 matrix
|Not Player Centered||Player Centered|
|Not Environment Centered||N/A||The Novelist,
|Environment Centered||The Stanley Parable, Proteus||Dear Esther,
Like The Stanley Parable, Proteus focuses exclusively on the environment. But while The Stanley Parable is cognitive, subverting the expectations of players, Proteus is emotive, building up a perfect child-like world with no rules, no enemies, and no protagonists — only delight.
Most reviewers of Proteus, whether their impressions are positive and negative, play Proteus for less than an hour. Whimsy without people or danger may be a hollow emotion indeed.