THERE IS A vast openness – visually, thematically, atmospherically – to any given Tarkovsky film that feels easy to attribute to the monumental scale of Russia, both in its history and its sheer physical size. But this too-easy association belittles an artist who brought immense visions to life as much in spite of his homeland as because of it.
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?