Brandon Boyer

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Here’s what we already knew, thanks to maybe the happiest hunch I’ll ever have in my life: Ed Key & David Kanaga’s musical exploration game Proteus is able to transform any space it enters into a fantastic dreamscape, proven out at its chill-out room installation at the Wild Rumpus/One Life Left/Venus Patrol party we collectively threw last March during the Game Developers Conference. There, a few dozen people at a time sat back & blissed out, engrossed in nothing more than someone slowly wending their way around its dynamic landscape.

Here’s what I couldn’t have known until it was quietly revealed as a feature of this year’s GameCity: performed live, as in, again controlled by a single person, but with more power of its progression put back into the hands of creator Key & with direct (rather than procedural) accompaniment by Kanaga on keys, it’s even more sublime than probably anyone would have imagined.

The ‘concert’ lasted for the better part of a full hour, with Key & Kanaga happy to give just enough freedom to the player to lend the performance an air of improvisation, while retaining an amount of control (see Key’s god-mode crib-sheet above, which I spy-cam-snapped only to discover later that his handwriting rendered the espionage more or less an impenetrable wash) to ensure that the game wouldn’t “end” until they were ready for it to.

With any luck, this won’t be the only time a performance like this occurs, as it’s not really an overstatement to say that it left the audience struck somewhat dumb — in the meantime, do your own best bootleg facsimile by picking up the game here if you haven’t already, and join us all in discovering why it’s truly one of 2012’s greatest.

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