Platform: Xbox ONE, PC
How was the game received?: Personal Purchase
Genre: Single Player 3D Puzzle
Release Date: Jan 26th 2016
Where to buy it: Get it Here! or the Xbox Store
Reviewed on: Xbox ONE
Description of the game
The Witness is a single-player game in an open world with dozens of locations to explore and over 500 puzzles. This game respects you as an intelligent player and it treats your time as precious. There's no filler; each of those puzzles brings its own new idea into the mix. So, this is a game full of ideas.
This game caught me by surprise as I do like puzzles but haven’t really been into playing puzzle video games too much. The Witness is also a game I haven’t really heard of until receiving free with gold. Decided to give it a try one day and so happy I did. It’s one of the few games I felt completionist about and got all the achievements. I recommend if you play this, avoid looking up anything about it outside a store summary. You will get stuck, but it’s the only challenge and you feel so accomplished to solve it yourself. Otherwise you are just copy pasting basically.
You start out in first person in a tunnel with a door in front of you. The game teaches you basic movements like run, move, and interact. All of the puzzles are in the form of a maze. It sounds simple and starts this way too. The puzzles get harder, and sort of train you on the way. They start simple and straightforward like this:
And advance to as far as impossible like the one on the right:
(part of the timed music box challenge)
There isn’t much explanation about objectives or strategies, it’s basically up to you, your logic and curiosity. As you find your way around a beautiful island, the puzzles unlock paths and start to introduce new rules. The only way to learn these rules (aside from looking it up and ruining the game) is trial and error. I will admit there were a couple things I looked up near the end, a secret area and how to find it, as well as some collectibles. As far as answers to puzzles I looked up 2, one of which was OUTRAGEOUS in a room where you could change the light between 3 colors.
There are many secrets to be found throughout the island. It plays highly on perception. Some of the collectibles are called “environmental puzzles” which look like a maze line with a circle to start and a line to an end.
The orange square is a switch type puzzle showing how a maze starts and ends, then the glowing white outline is the “environmental puzzle”. A combination of these puzzles and getting stuck had me questioning finding these puzzles on my breaks in the real world! It’s amazing how this game gives perspective like this, which you can find with a video of what I believe to be one of the creators in first person trying to interact with what look like environmental puzzles in the real world. There are a few secret videos that are real world videos. Some of the narrative in those is quiet interesting if you listen. One of an eclipse sounds like a story of one of the developers talking about his start in a Radio Shack, lack of business allowing him to learn advanced computer skills, then on to Bach and music composition.
What was interesting is the background of Bach and leaving “Easter Eggs” in his music, and the term Easter Egg being developed in gaming, and used to exploit the human obsession to find secrets. The videos and the game itself seem to be an attempt at expanding curiosity and questioning which honestly felt good.
Playthrough was amazing, loved feeling like a boss in the secret area solving “the music box” timed puzzles. Not often am I one to worry about going through a game I have beat for collectibles, but I did on this one for a while. The especially interesting part were those secret videos. The first person developer was hilarious and that house looked awesome! I loved solving difficult puzzles and finding secrets. The first playthrough is just a beautiful mind opening adventure. I don’t see it having any replay value, though it is fun to go into the complete file to find more secrets and environmental puzzles. When you reach the end, there is a kind of elevator looking structure on the water, I recommend saving here, once getting in the elevator it’s the closing video and starts you back at the beginning again. You will probably have an autosave, but saving before entering that elevator allows you to have those solved puzzles added on to your total solved puzzle score, for if you want to completionist through after. I really enjoy this game and recommend it to anyone who has ever enjoyed doing a maze, or solving puzzles or exploring and adventure.
Overall Score: 4.5/5 (due to no replay value, the first playthrough is great)
*Images taken from various pages within: https://www.ign.com/wikis/the-witness
*Many spoilers there, I recommend waiting until near the end of the game to view that site. It helps to find secrets and collectibles for the completionist. Even if you aren’t, check there for the secret videos including the “Entry Area”.
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