It's easy to fall in love with The Witness, and even easier to have your heart broken by the callous indifference of Jonathan Blow's beautiful island. A healthy challenge is good for any game, but the puzzles on display here offer few inroads to understanding for those who can't think exactly like their creator.
Truthfully, I wish I didn't have to score The Witness. I don't want to set people up for that expectation; I don't want a voice in the back of their head that says "Okay, when does this become a ten?" In a way, that's unfair and detrimental to how the game should be experienced, which is as open-minded and unassuming as possible. Don't go to The Witness. Let The Witness come to you.
Thus, I highly recommend The Witness. Although I really liked Blow's previous game, I just loved this. I became so absorbed in it, and its beauty complements the way it challenges my mind. I like how simply it begins and how complicated it is at the end but that there's a logical line from those two points. There's just a lot contained within, and I'm still finding more. I want that for others, too.
Despite occasional pangs of belittlement, The Witness refuses to release its hold on me. Although there are aspects of the game that I clearly dislike, part of me longs to be immersed within its fascinating world. It feels strange, therefore, to try and put a score on this review, given how each individual will react differently to it. That term may be overused but if you were to spend just an hour or two with the game, you would know it to be true. Unique, divisive, and fiendishly clever, there are bound to be those who love it and those who absolutely hate it. Then there are those, like myself, who fall somewhere in between, able to appreciate Thekla's achievements but frustrated at how The Witness continues to build a wall around itself, as if guarding a secret from its players.
The Witness is an intentionally simple game to grasp, but enjoyment almost feels proportional to patience. These puzzles are absolute brain-breakers, so anyone that doesn't have the patience for them will get no enjoyment out of The Witness. I was certainly on the verge of being one of those people, but exploring the sheer beauty of the island and learning more about its central mystery turned out to make returning worthwhile.
more, everything about the game—its puzzle structure, its philosophical leanings, its mysteries—eventually comes together in pretty arresting fashion. Part of this is thanks to the game's multiple layers of puzzle-solving gameplay. We've been asked not to say more about that part. Players may need as little as an hour or as long as two weeks to figure out one of The Witness's coolest parts, but however and whenever players get to that point, it's a pretty clever one. (Some of the game's most incredible aesthetic trickery comes as a result of this part of the game, by the way. Kudos to Thekla for pulling it off.)
A masterpiece. The Witness is an amazing and clever experience, rich in details and love. The game design is simply elegant and the atmosphere is out of this world.
Review in Italian | Read full review
This Xbox One version of the Witness stands shoulder to should with its PC and PlayStation 4 counterparts, delivering the same content we saw in those releases with a comparable visual fidelity.
The Witness is an outstanding game, one that slowly reveals its brilliance and assumes the players intelligence rather than guides it. It is an absolute must play for puzzle fans.