Platforms: PC, PS4
Reviewed On: PS4
Developer: Thekla Inc.
Publisher: Thekla Inc.
Release Date: 26 February 2016
There is something that sets an indie game apart. Maybe it is the keen sense of individuality, or the separation of conformity that allows developers to create one-of-a-kind experiences without the need to follow the herd of overrated annual franchises that only have one thing in mind. The Witness is a true indie game, with its own journey into the unknown and its unique personality.
The Witness takes place on a gorgeous, vivid island, divided into separate locations with their own look and mystery. The game has a story, which revolves around panel puzzles, over 500 of them. As much as that sounds like something that would be on a mobile device, The Witness is more than just a simple “do one puzzle and move on” kind of game. Instead, each area you find yourself in has a set of uniquely styled puzzles that implement their own set of challenges.
Each area you enter will have a set of tutorial puzzles available for you to learn the basics and ease you into the more challenging puzzles ahead. Some areas in the game require you to use everything you had learned before to get the job done.
The problem is, the game has no real sense of direction in terms of where to go first, so at times you will feel extremely overwhelmed with the puzzle ahead, and in the meantime the game presented you with easier puzzles in another area. But that is not an issue with the game at all, as exploring the island is half the fun. Gorgeous forests, lush jungles, and colourful marshes.
It is as if the island was alive, but with very little effort to convey the feeling of exploration. The game does not direct you anywhere, you just need to find an area that looks unique to its surroundings, and head there.
In terms of sound, I did feel that the game could have used some sort of musical score, as there is literally no music in-game. Instead the game relies on the sounds of the environment like the whistle of the wind through the branches above, or the footsteps of your feet in the water as you walk across the shoreline. Saying that, playing the game on loud is just as rewarding as somehow the game manages to captivate you with its sound mastery.
Progression in the game takes place as you enter each area and complete its set of puzzles which then activates the laser beam which shoots to the top of the mountain. You need to enter each location and complete its unique set of puzzles to activate the laser, and each area houses its own set of puzzles that force you to rethink your approach ahead. At times you will come across a few puzzles that have similar features as areas before, but at the same time implement a new twist on things. You need to now figure out what to do while taking into consideration past endeavours. The game is tough at times and does very little to teach you what you need to actually do.
The game has over 600 puzzles, and for PS4 owners, the trophies in the game are mostly gold and a platinum for completing the game. Regardless of rewards, the game packs its own rewards system, and it is basically the sense of achievement you get from completing some of the hardest puzzles in the game. That is it, and you really never ask for more as completing a puzzle is reward enough.
The Witness is extraordinary from the moment you open your first puzzle door, to the moment you climb up the hill to finish the game. There is no doubt that The Witness has set the bar for indie development, and it could possibly be the best puzzle game for years to come.