February 19, 2023The Witness Review (A 2023 Game Review)

Thrown onto an unknown island with no knowledge of who you are or how you came to the island, you embark on a journey to figure out the different puzzles and challenges the game, The Witness, will throw at you in hopes of finding out what happened to you and your memories. If you want to know more about this game, continue reading our “The Witness” review!

The Witness Review

The Witness is so full of puzzles and secrets, both literal and metaphorical, that you have to explore the land to find out what it’s hiding. It’s a world where freedom is granted in which you are welcomed to explore the land as you go through the different and multi-layered puzzles you have to solve. The Witness lets you enhance your knowledge of the island by solving these puzzles, which will get you even more hooked on the game.

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Photo Credits to Steam

Release Date: January 26, 2016
Developer/Publisher: Thekla, Inc./Thekla, Inc.
Genre: Puzzle-Adventure game
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Android, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, macOS, iOS, Nvidia Shield TV, Classic Mac OS
Metacritic Score: 87%
Steam Review: Very Positive
  • BAFTA Games Award 2017:
  • Best Original Property
  • Game Design
  • Best Debut Game
  • Game Innovation
  • Canadian Videogame Awards 2016:
  • Fan’s Choice Award: Best International Game
  • NAVGTR Awards 2017
  • NAVGTR Award: Game, Puzzle

The game starts when you wake up on an unknown island and don’t seem to remember anything about who you are, where you are, or how you got to the island. You are now tasked to embark on a journey filled with puzzle-solving to find out what secrets lie deep within the island and in your mind.

The whole concept of the game is solving puzzles. There’s not really much to it. You have to solve puzzles at every turn, but what takes this game to the next level is how hard each puzzle becomes. It’s a game where you’ll have to figure everything out. There aren’t any vocal (or text) instructions that will guide you to solving each puzzle. You are taught by the different experiences and puzzles you’ll encounter all throughout the game.

Each puzzle is accompanied by one rule until you get to solve more puzzles, then more rules are added to create some sort of puzzle rule book. Once these rules are established, they remain unchanging throughout the whole game of The Witness.

The Witness’s puzzles are challenging, but they are always solvable in one way or another. The game even encourages you to sometimes walk away from a difficult puzzle. Sometimes you have to allow yourself to wander around the area in order to see that the solutions you seek are farther up the road. The Witness teaches you how to ask the correct questions and look for the answers in the right areas, in addition to providing you with the tools necessary to uncover the solutions.

At some point in the game, you’ll also have to use your surroundings, or the environment, to solve the puzzles. The mechanics of The Witness puzzle are quite difficult to explain with words because they’re quite complex. So it’s better to explain them through signs and symbols, which is what the game does.

I’m not going to lie; because of the games’ difficult puzzle-solving mechanics, I’ve been stuck on several puzzles for several days, not understanding how to solve the puzzle. But because of that, I had to look for answers elsewhere and wander around the area to look for possible solutions.

The Witness was designed in such a way that the puzzles of the game are matched by the layout of the game. Every tree, rock, and even path was designed to have a purpose in the game. There was actually one part of the game where I had to move around to see that the sun was shining through the answer. If I hadn’t looked around at my surroundings and the environment, I would not have been able to solve the puzzle. The game encourages you to look at the puzzles from other perspectives to find solutions.

You can’t leave anything unturned, for you might miss something important. This might be quite annoying at first, but as you go through the different paths and scenes The Witness takes you on, you’ll find beauty in each scene. Sometimes, these revelations are revealed to you in a surprising manner. They’re everywhere, so whether or not you’re seeking them, they will actively seek you out to be found. That’s just what The Witness is all about: it will actively show you and point you to new directions and perspectives that will always lead you to the correct solution.

Just like how you can see different revelations everywhere you go, there’s also a lot you can actually miss if you don’t look hard enough. There are tons of secrets, paths, and mysteries that lie deeper within the environment than meets the eye. They’re always tucked away in the game’s most challenging puzzles, or sometimes even hidden in plain sight. I can definitely say that I most likely missed a lot of things during the first playthrough, which makes me want to go on another round just to find everything there is to find about the game.

Lastly, I just want to bring up how beautifully structured The Witness is. It has an incredibly beautiful landscape that hides a lot of secrets. I often stopped in the middle of puzzle-solving just to breathe in my surroundings. And because of that, I was able to look through the environment to find solutions to puzzles I’ve been having a hard time solving. So, even if you’re so focused on solving the puzzles, sometimes it’s better to stop and just enjoy the beautiful landscape. You never know what you’ll find.

Final Verdict

Overall, The Witness is one of the most beautifully-crafted puzzle games I’ve tried in a long time. It used its magnificent surroundings to not only leave us players in awe, but they were also masterfully incorporated into the game as a way to showcase different solutions to different difficult puzzles. The Witness is among the best indie games that gave us a masterful puzzle game that not only made our brains turn but also showed us subtle messages about the deeper meaning of the game.

But despite being satisfied with the game, I actually had a pretty hard time finishing it at all. Because of this, I can say that it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you have a lot of patience and the burning passion to finish a difficult puzzle game, then you’ll definitely love The Witness.

That’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed reading this article!