The Witness should be at the top of every puzzle fans most anticipated games list
If you so much as mention 1993’s Myst, and old-school gamer nearby will smile with fond memories. The classic first-person point-and-click puzzle adventure brought you (“The Stranger”) to a mysteriously uninhabited island littered with machinery.
Gamers more hip to the puzzle gaming scene are likely fonder of titles like Braid, Jonathan Blow’s 2008 platform-puzzling masterpiece. With Blow’s new island-based puzzler The Witness finally hitting the scene this year, it looks like you can get the best of both worlds.
Much like the premise of the game itself, much of The Witness remains a mystery. Set in another abandoned island with a sole occupant (“The Witness”), your sole “goal” is to solve hundreds of various puzzles. While nearly all the game’s deeper elements are still under wraps, a small handful of concepts have been revealed to the public.
According to a count by Blow himself, there are as many as 440 individual puzzles to solve. Many of them are focused on electronics spread across the island. While some are as simple as weaving through mazes on monitors, other puzzles are far more obscure. Some require an adventure from one end of the island to the other, yet others require compound knowledge from previous challenges.
While a handful of the game’s challenges are intertwined, a large part of The Witness‘ appeal is its openness. Players are free to explore the island as they please, tackling puzzles in nearly any order that they desire. With a decently sized crew of artists aiming to make The Witness as beautiful as possible, exploration will likely be a reward in itself.
As players progress, they’ll uncover more and more audio logs from the creator of the puzzles. “The Witness” has no memory of why they found themselves on the island, with only the words of the creator as guidance and explanation. These logs can be uncovered in any order, and help create a sense of intrigue and mystery as players progress through the island.
Unlike Braid, Blow isn’t the sole designer of this project (and he insists that the media remember that!), it’s undeniable that his eccentric ways have made their way into the game’s unveiling. The Witness was first revealed at the Penny Arcade Expo in 2010 in secret, with Jonathan Blow purposely remaining as far from his booth as possible. He also constantly mentions the concept of a “magic moment” that The Witness is constructed from, but refuses to ruin the surprise until the game is released.
With a fantastic development team, nearly five years of development, and plenty of mystery surrounding the project, The Witness might be the most important puzzle title to look out for this year. Players curious for more information as it’s released can visit the team’s blog for an interesting insight into an even deeper development cycle.