The Witness. It’s a puzzle game and a walking simulator, but so much more than the sum of its parts. In The Witness, you explore an island inexplicably littered with mazes and tile puzzles all around an island so lovingly rendered, you can’t help but breathe out a sigh of relaxation.
Unlike so many games, The Witness doesn’t hold your hand. There are no tutorial pop-ups to tell you what to do, no arrows to lead you toward your next objective. You alone are in control of your destination. The puzzles themselves don’t teach you how to solve them. Every puzzle teaches you something new: a new mechanic that you can apply to later, more complex puzzles. It’s that difficulty, that frustration you feel when encountering a new puzzle type that makes finally solving it so rewarding. Every new mechanic you learn isn’t simply left in one area of the island, you take it the knowledge you’ve earned onward with you deeper into the game as you explore more of the island. The slow accumulation of knowledge and respect you gain for the mechanics of the puzzles is unique to The Witness, and something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced in any other form of media before.
I have yet to finish the game, so I can’t speak to whether or not The Witness has an overarching plot yet so much as there are bits and pieces of information to be gleaned around the island. There are video and audio recordings, and some statues that let you know something is going on. It’s intriguing, and an excellent way of keeping the player engaged as they ponder tile puzzles and search for meaning in the many, many sections of the island.
If you’re a puzzle fan, a walking simulator fan, or just love challenging yourself with new mental experiences, give The Witness a try.