Puzzle-exploration game The Witness has been in production for a very long time, but it’s finally here, and it sure looks to deliver on open-world adventuring.
For those who don’t know Jonathan Blow, he did a pretty good puzzle-platformer called Braid that was both head-scratchingly difficult, but beautiful in its presentation, while it also told a mature story about how one deals with relationships. While The Witness isn’t solely done by him, but with the help of other designers, the look, feel and gameplay are certainly a further development of the main idea of giving players a hard time to solve all the puzzles.
Usually one is held by both hands in today’s gaming, with endless tutorials and explanations. The Witness simply throws the player into a strange world, an island that is amazing to look at and that hoards many secrets to uncover and puzzles to solve. Those familiar with Myst might see the connection (especially with Eric A. Anderson of Cyan Worlds being involved), but those who also had problems with that game might still find something interesting here.
From the first looks of it, puzzles seem to be connected throughout the island, which can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because one can fully immerse oneself in the environment, a curse because it means walking or rowing around by boat without having a clue what to do. But then again, as Blow stated there should be enough ways to tackle these conundrums without the linearity found in so many adventure games.
Story-wise little is known other than the player waking up on the island, making it all the more mysterious and intriguing to play. It looks already amazing and if the music and sound design are anything to go by, this could be something very special, although the current price for a digital only release is rather steep and it certainly isn’t for everyone. The game will be available on mobile and other platforms as well, although it’s not clear when that will be.
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