“Cracking The Code”

The Witness is the most intellectually demanding and therapeutic game I’ve ever played, without rival. From the forward-thinking minds responsible for 2008’s innovative Braid, comes a puzzle game that challenges players with intricate, mind-bending obstacles to outsmart. The Witness is easily one of the most challenging games I’ve worked up the motivation to complete. Unlike many contemporary projects, The Witness values knowledge above every other component of its composition. The title trusts the player to connect the dots necessary to progress through the game, stemming from their own intellectual fortitude, avoiding the traditional teachings of tutorials and hints to guide them. It’s an initially overwhelming realization and one that will undoubtedly turn players away, but for those brave enough to stick with it, one of the generation’s most superb and strikingly original games, awaits.  Coining The Witness as a challenging game is a seismic understatement. Thekla Inc.’s mysterious and picturesque puzzle game ranks among the upper echelon of video games to truly push me to my mental limits. I left my venture on The Witness’ island, overcome with exhaustion, stress, and a palpable anxiousness that another line puzzle would await me in the real world. Nevertheless, at the same time, a guttural level of satisfaction arose upon completing The Witness’ long, turbulent, and utterly genius story. What sets the project apart from the genre’s proudest champions, is that The Witness, unlike like other puzzle games, operates under the assumption that the player is already smart. There’s no handholding or pats on the back to encourage players to push forward, only loneliness and the faint ambiance of the island’s various sounds. The Witness cleverly manages to be as meditative as it is infuriating, striking an unusual balance between the calm and the catastrophic. Like a layered display of artwork, there’s more than one way to perceive The Witness. Discovering new dimensions to its gorgeous world, complex puzzles, and surprisingly human themes, is all part of gaining a deeper understanding as to what a game like The Witness represents. To truly understand and appreciate this experience, you must walk the shores of the island and witness it all, yourself.

Excerpt from review (9.5/10):

“I made it less than ten minutes in before The Witness stumped me. This was the first of a herculean amount of roadblocks that stood in my way of seeing an end to Jonathan Blow’s follow-up to the innovative Braid, which put him on the map back in 2008. In the same vain as Braid, The Witness presents itself in an intellectually stimulating fashion, subverting expectations around every bend. As a result, The Witness is an absolutely exhausting, unyielding, yet ultimately rewarding experience. It’s rooted deeply in mystery and a steep intellectual criteria that somehow works, feeding into an evocatively invigorating and encouraging tone that kept me company throughout the entire duration of my time on the abandon island. Personally, The Witness encouraged me to take a dive into the minutia of my anxiety, addressing its triggers, intensifiers, and ultimately solutions. The Witness is indeed a game about solving puzzles, nonetheless, I didn’t expect it to help me bridge valuable resolutions of my own.”

Note: Check back every day for new entries & updates in my personal GOTY 2016 roster…


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