The Witness is a game brimming with secrets: daunting and multilayered mysteries that sunk into my subconscious, tracing snaking paths across my brain until I was literally seeing mazes every time I closed my eyes. That’s the kind of power The Witness has. It hooked me in with its masterful puzzle design and gorgeous visuals, then compelled me forward as I began to carve out my own purpose on the island. It’s a freedom granted by a world as welcomingly open to exploration as it is enjoyably challenging to solve.
The Witness is a fully 3D world navigated in first person, but revolves around solving two-dimensional mazes found on in-game panels, completed by drawing the correct path from a circular start point to a rounded end point. This simple, intuitive core concept burns at the center of the 700 or so puzzles you’ll find on The Witness’s enigmatic island setting. Tracing lines feels as smooth as cutting butter with both a mouse and a gamepad and is accompanied by a warm, electric buzzing effect. The pure tactile joy of communicating with these interfaces and the initial sense of wonder and mystery their very presence brings were enough to motivate me in the earliest moments of The Witness. But these light-up labyrinths quickly became more sophisticated, adding new rules and constraints to the basic maze-like structure and thus allowing for the real tough, yet fulfilling challenges to emerge.