Title: The Witness
Developer: Thekla, Inc.
Publisher: Thekla, Inc.
Platform: Xbox One (Playstation 4, PC, and Mac)
Category: Puzzle & Trivia
Release Date: January 26, 2016
How we got the game: I downloaded it onto my Xbox One
The Witness is a game I had heard about through watching a streamer on Twitch. I was instantly drawn to the tranquility of the game and the beauty of the graphics. When I realized it was a puzzle game, I was all in and wanted to give it a try myself.
The Witness is easy to play, but not easy to figure out. You play in first person mode moving around with the analog stick exploring an unfamiliar island. There are computer-like screens just about everywhere with puzzles on them.
Each puzzle is a line puzzle, for lack of a better way to describe them. You start at once end and make your way to the other. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Each puzzle has its own set of rules. For example, the tutorial puzzles are as easy as getting the line from one end of the other, but the next set of puzzles have black and white dots in the mix. To get the line from one end to the other on those puzzles, you need to take a roundabout way to group the black dots together and the white dots together, separating the colors.
That one is fairly easy to figure out the rules once you get the hang of it. There are no rules or no directions. This game has no dialogue or instruction of any kind. You need to figure out the puzzles, the “rules” of each puzzle on your own. You need to explore the island on your own and decide where to go next.
I’m pretty sure there is no linear path, but the puzzles do get more and more difficult as you progress.
Normally I’d say the puzzles are my favorite part of the game, but I think for this one it’s the graphics. The world The Witness has taken you is a beautiful one, even if it is unfamiliar and a bit scary to explore.
The colors are so bright and each biome (the forest, the desert, etc.) are spot on with their colors and the overall atmosphere. There are some interesting spots throughout the island which are meant to help you get your memories back. The island has a mysterious aura around it and it’s done well.
There’s not much music to this game. It’s soft and soothing that adds to the calmness of the island and aids you when you get frustrated with a puzzle here and there.
At the beginning of the game, your character wakes up in a dark tunnel. You make your way out into the fresh air of the island with some tutorial puzzles. However, you have no idea who you are, where you are, or how you got there in the first place.
The story is a mystery and you need to explore the island and solve the puzzles to find clues about your past and the island itself.
This definitely has some replayability since one could never remember the solutions to the puzzles. While they don’t change, some of the answers are so complex you can’t remember them and have to re-figure them out. There are well over 600 puzzles in this game, so you may even forget some of the rules to certain puzzles.
This is a one-player game, but I can see playing with a group, passing the controller along, trying to figure the puzzles out together or simply just taking turns to give your brain a rest.
The Witness gets…
4 out of 5 lives.