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Developer: Thekla, Inc.
at witnessYou wake up alone on an island. You don’t know who you are, how you got here, or why this island is inexplicable with control panels that double like puzzles. Everything is extremely curious, and as you explore, solving chains of puzzles as you go, this island appears to have more secrets than it allows.
The Witness’s favorite brain games are line maze puzzles, where you need to draw a line across a network from start (indicated by a circle) to the end. As you explore the island, more rules and mechanics are introduced, and you’ll quickly pass through networks that were going to hurt your head several hours ago.
It’s easy to fall into rhythm in The Witness. All of the display networks are interconnected, and ending one puzzle in sequence will send a lightning bolt of power over the cable to power the next cable. Completing a series of puzzles leads you to another, then ending that sequence opens a door to a new area – easy to get rid of.
With hundreds of puzzles to solve, it’s only a matter of time until the grid and circular starting point start to burn in your mind. The Tetris effect takes hold, and you start to see patterns in the sidewalks and draw lines in your dreams. For me, it always happens when I get really involved in a puzzle game, but when I saw that very familiar circuit and line in the The Witness scene it made me do double duty.
A series of particularly challenging puzzles led me to the top of a mountain, and as I took a short brain break, I was looking at the island. Something caught my attention about the river, its strange wobbly shape and the perfectly round pool of water that was gushing out that caught my eye. Turns out the mysteries of The Witnesses were not only on the screens, but also hidden in the geography and architecture across the island.
It’s an amazing moment, and I think many players will always remember the first time they discovered it. The electrified effect to you is immediate – once you see one you start to see it everywhere. After the discovery, I started returning to my previous locations in an effort to find more.
Markings on sand, alignment of clouds, shadows cast on the ground, tubes along the wall, outlines of tree canopies – there are tons of them hidden in every inch of island. It’s totally unbelievable, and that’s when The Witness really wowed me.