IN THE ERA before the world was fully mapped onto its current grid, creators of atlases had creative license to fill in gaps in the collective knowledge however they saw fit, with sensationalized descriptions of new lands, people, and creatures being the norm rather than the exception. With every corner of the world mapped and measured, what atlases and travel writing have gained in knowledge and accuracy they have lost, at least to some degree, in wonder and creativity.
I’VE BEEN WANTING to write about The Witness for several months now, but kept getting hung up on how to address the elephant in the room (or in this case, on the island): namely, how difficult the game is, both in the classic hard-to-solve sense and in how much it asks of players conceptually. There’s no question the game’s hundreds of puzzles are exceedingly difficult, and require an iron stoicism to complete without rage-Googling. But the second layer of difficulty runs deeper, and is more open to debate: assuming one plays the game “right”, i.e. avoids any and all online discussions of the game (and only requires assistance from one’s spouse or partner on—I don’t know, let’s say 10-20% of the puzzles), and somehow, through perseverance, luck, page after page of maniacal scribbling, and the aforementioned pre-internet Genuine Human Interaction factor, manages to complete the game—is it worth it?
Marcos Weiss, AKA Socy, is a freelance concept artist who has lived in Brazil, Germany, and the U.S., and currently lives and works in Berlin. His most recent project is the forthcoming 9Lives Arena from Touchhour Games, due out on Steam later this year.