Monday, 15 February 2016

The Witness: PS4 Review

The Witness: PS4 Review

Platform: PS4
Developed by Thekla Ltd

There's just something about The Witness that has an amazing propensity to melt your brain.

Developed by Thekla Ltd and from the brain behind Braid, Jonathan Blow, the game's simplicity is also your downfall.

Set on an island where you have no idea of its location or indeed who you are, this indie's MO is very simple. Sort of.

It's all about exploring the island and solving puzzles, which in turn unlock other areas for you to then engage in further puzzles. If that all sounds like simplicity itself, well then let me assure you, it is anything but. In very similar vein to Flow on the iPad, the puzzles are all initially about literally joining the dots via a predetermined path (though in reality, the execution is a little trickier than that).

In the isometric world, there's very little to see but the colours are all bright and exciting and offer a sense of hope as the desperation to solve these puzzles set in.

But you gradually learn as you progress that these puzzles are training you and helping you adapt to what's going on. It may be an open world but occasionally as the gates stay closed until you've managed to solve some of the mind-benders on offer. And they don't always get any easier. One such puzzle that was set at the end of a maze was a very clever comment on the environment and literally saw me re-tracing my steps to solve it.

There are some frustrations though which may put people off from fully immersing themselves within The Witness.

This is not a game that panders to easy understanding or offers up clues to what to do next, how to do it, and why it must be done a certain way. However, it also lacks a map which if you come back to the game after a bit of time away can be confusing and disorienting ; this is a game that challenges in many ways and encourages you to exert the brain muscles with a reward of making you feel like you've achieved something.

The Witness is the antithesis to your dumbed down gaming experience; it may prove a little too difficult for some and a little too wilfully obtuse, but it is rewarding as you negotiate the 600 strong puzzles (some of which only apparently a small percentage of the populace will be able to solve). As an experience, The Witness is second to none, but as an indie title, it's close to the top.


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