Game of the Month: The Witness

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The Witness     Jan.26th     PC/PS4

The first game from developer Jonathon Blow, Braid was released in 2008 on the Xbox 360 and received huge critical and commercial success. The game combined platforming and puzzle mechanics to create a time traveling masterpiece that stands as one of the best “indie” games from the last generation. His follow up game, The Witness was announced the following year and after being in development for almost 8 years it’s finally ready to be released.

witness4The Witness is an adventure/puzzle game that drops players onto a deserted island where they must solve puzzles scattered throughout different zones. With over 600 puzzles to discover and complete, Blow says that completionists could spend nearly 100 hours solving every puzzle in the game (you don’t need to solve them all though in order to finish the game). He also hasn’t shied away from making some of the puzzles very difficult, but the open nature of the game means that if you do get stuck on a particularly tough puzzle you are free to move on to another one and return later to finish it.

The story surrounding The Witness remains mostly a mystery. What we do know is that as you explore the island you’ll discover recordings left behind by… someone. And as the game progresses you will piece together the mystery of who was here before you. The game does feature voice actors for those recordings but in an interesting move, the game features almost no music whatsoever. The only sounds are the natural sounds of the island. Blow says this was done to fully immerse the player into the role of being on this island alone and not to distract from everything there is to take in.

The pressure to create something special after a game as beloved as Braid must weigh on Blow, but he says fans should have faith in his ability to deliver. In an interview with Eurogamer he said “Some people seem to have jumped to the conclusion that the game is going to be about solving simple maze puzzles, and thus not be particularly exciting. If that thought crosses your mind, all I can ask is to have faith. I wouldn’t make a game about solving a series of rote puzzles,”

The Witness is crafted with an attention to detail that is impressive. From the architecture to the landscapes, you get the impression that every inch of this mysterious island was placed there with a purpose. And after being in development for 8 years my guess is that the final product will be a highly polished and remarkable experience. You can find out for yourself when The Witness becomes available on PC and PS4 on January 26th.

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