We don’t usually compile review round-ups of indie titles, but The Witness is far from being usual – Braid creator Jonathan Blow announced this island-set puzzler in 2009, and has been slogging away on it since. That’s a six and a half year development cycle, for those waiting for the penny to drop.
It’s also arriving at a higher price than most expected – £30. Rest assured though that it’s an absorbing experience like none other. “For what it’s worth, I’m 40-some hours in, and my interest hasn’t waned in the slightest; it has only grown considerably” said Destructoid’s reviewer.
So far it has gained top marks from a handful of sites, including VideoGamer and IGN.
The Metro and GamesRadar meanwhile were left wishing for a bit more variety and reward.
Here’s a review round-up:
10/10 – Post Arcade: “It’s a vat of distilled, concentrated satisfaction that slowly pours down onto us, one puzzle at a time, leaving players drenched in the feeling that they’re smart, that they’ve accomplished a feat of mental strength, that – just maybe – they’ve learned something”
5/5 – Giant Bomb: “The Witness isn’t just an example of how video games can be similar to other creative works; it’s also a great reminder of the special things only games can do”
5/5 – The Telegraph: “[…but] The Witness is a game that will genuinely have you punching the air or laughing out loud, just from correctly drawing a line on a grid. If that isn’t the mark of a truly special game, I don’t know what is”
10/10 – Destructoid: “For what it’s worth, I’m 40-some hours in, and my interest hasn’t waned in the slightest; it has only grown considerably”
10 – IGN: “A beautiful, powerful, and cleverly designed puzzle game with a wealth of mysteries to unravel”
10/10 – VideoGamer: “Playing The Witness is a real emotional rollercoaster, with flashes of anger, despondency, jubilation, awe, smugness and admiration. Who would have thought you could get all that from a game about drawing lines?”
9.25 – GameInformer: “Some puzzles are tough, but all of them are fair, and the fun of solving them is only topped by seeing what awaits you on the next series of monitors”
9.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “It’s a brilliant, beautiful, masterfully crafted work, and the more you discover, the more apparent it is”
8.5 – EGM: “The Witness is the rare game that boils down to a question of faith. No video, screenshot, or review can really explain why it’s such a worthwhile use of your time without spoiling the experience, so you’ll have to trust me when I tell you it’s worth every second—provided you have a bit of patience and are up for an intellectual challenge”
4/5 – The Escapist: “The Witness is a beautiful, brain-tickling, “puzzle-adventure,” that will manage to both frustrate and awe you at the same time”
7/10 – The Metro: “A colossal achievement in puzzle gaming, with a very cleverly conceived setting and story, but the lack of variety and reward becomes stifling”
70/100 – GamesBeat: “I admire a lot about The Witness. It is a beautiful game. It is a clever game. It is a big game. But all of its elements, mazes, exploration, and philosophy don’t come together to express a greater theme”
3/5 – GamesRadar: “With more judicious editing in each area’s design this could have been a slightly smaller but infinitely more enjoyable challenge. But, as it stands, the demands made, and the returns given, stretch out the reward to the point of transparency”