The Witness: A lost world of puzzles

Let’s face it we all need a source of inspiration, a beacon of hope in this dreary mid-winter. As the glowing faces of freshers grow aged and tired and final-year students push through their last ounce of childhood, one might question where this inspiration can be found or whether it will ever appear. To many, a 100-hour puzzle doesn’t sound like the answer, but look more closely – it just might be.

Now you may have sensed some form of irony from my opening and before actually taking the time to sit down and research Jonathan Blow’s The Witness, it was hard to find a genuine interest in the game. In a world of quick, meaningless games where the player is left sedated for a few days after an impulse purchase, someone like Blow, who at least offers genuine dedication, passion and skill to his work can often slip under the radar.

The Witness is a follow-up to Blow’s first game Braid which saw the protagonist have to climb and make its way through puzzle challenges whilst answering philosophical questions at the same time. In addition to winning the Independent Games Festival award in 2006 and being selected by GameSpot for their ‘Best Original Downloadable Console Game’ award, Braid was nominated for five Xbox Live Arcade 2008 awards. The Witness is Blow’s attempt to emulate this success and one has to wish someone showing originality in this seemingly repetitive industry the best of luck.

I myself am by no means a serious gamer, nor have I had any real passion for any quick-fire games such as Call of Duty, but surely people must get bored of the same stuff that comes out month after month. So if you’re bored of laying siege on a Nazi Village (or whatever happens in CoD) then why not give The Witness a chance? Who knows, it may even open your square eyes to a new gaming world.

Given that the only people who are probably going to relate to this article are going to be gamers, I should maybe be a bit nicer to the gaming world and attempt to explain what the genuine attraction to the game is. Basically, the game is an intricate exploration of a lost puzzle world and is so detailed and complex that even Blow himself has trouble explaining his own game, which only adds to the mystery. The intricacy of each puzzle is in-depth and depends on those ‘a-ha’ moments in which the gamer eventually works out the solution, which Blow ensures is a very rewarding moment, and I don’t doubt that.

This game has the potential to be genuinely very special; Blow has hired out real-world architects and the attention to detail throughout the game is astonishing. He has spent £5 million and multiple years creating the best possible gaming experience for you, so I think £40 sounds like a reasonable price – maybe.


Luke Giles


Image: The Independent. 

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