Reviews from

in the past

Jonathan Blow is the Elon Musk of indie games

Wow. I'm so surprised to see the negative reviews for this, because its easily my favourite puzzle game ever. Its actual genius game design, with a simple enough puzzle concept that is built upon and built upon to create an open world that is just amazing to explore and unlock piece by piece.
People who say its boring, or tedious, or pretentious can fuck right off. Its a masterpiece.

i never want to touch this game again

Absolutely adore this game. The puzzles are all so creative and fun to try and figure out. The late-game content is also something truly special.

Muy buenos puzzles pero demasiado difíciles para mí, me acabé cansando y tuve que buscar ayuda en internet para terminarlo.

I was unfortunately too dumb to go beyond 4 hours into the game.

one of a kind! the quintessential puzzle game that everyone should try if you're any bit interested in problem solving. this game is layers upon layers of puzzles, every detail in the world building leading to a greater mystery, all taught by exploration and observation. an incredible amount of work was needed to make this possible; to make a effortless feeling, expansive world filled with engaging puzzles throughout, making puzzles that throw out any logic you have learned thus far, AFTER EVERY SINGLE PUZZLE. it feels like i'm traversing the mind of a mad man, it's fascinating to say the least!

This is a fantastic puzzle game that requires heavy use of wits, environmental clues and combining rules and earlier puzzles. If you're the kind of person that solves Sudoku puzzles for fun, you may LOVE this game. If you like puzzle games in general, I recommend you check it out.

My favorite puzzle game of all time and the most satisfying Plat I've ever gotten. This game fits so perfectly with how my brain operates and scratches an itch that no other game has managed to satisfy since. It's quite literally the perfect puzzle game for me and if I could wipe it from my brain so I could do it all again, I would.

Disclaimer: These are my brief thoughts based on my memory of playing this 7 years ago:

The only way to beat this game is to “witness” a walkthrough for it. Just like Braid, this game enjoys the smell of its own farts way too much and thinks it’s way smarter than it really is. If this wasn’t riding the legacy of Braid, the witness would’ve had no witnesses to play it.

I played this first when it came out and I enjoyed it for a bit then got tired of it so I looked at a walkthrough to still see the ending and it felt like some pretentious shit (some "branlette intellectuelle" as we say in french) so I just moved on.
Came back to it a few years later and I loved it. I'm amazed by the puzzles, illusions, and how everything is taught to you without any text. I love the beauty and calm of the island.
The endings are still a bit of a "branlette intellectuelle" to me haha. But that secret lecture about easter eggs was super interesting !

The witness proves that Jon Blow's "pretentiousness" is every last bit deserved.

In a way, every video game is a sort of puzzle. You're put into a situation where you have to move forward and there's something blocking the way, whether that be an enemy to defeat, an obstacle to overcome, or, appropriately, a puzzle to solve. In games like The Witness, where puzzles take center stage, it can be interesting to see how developers introduce variety in puzzles so that the game doesn't become tedious. Trailers didn't say too much in this regard; all that was revealed of The Witness prior to its release were solving line puzzles, some with differing criteria, but all effectively the same kind of puzzle. Whether this excited you or not, it's fair to say that most players likely expected there to be a deeper aspect to the game. And as much as The Witness would love to convince you there is more under the surface, you'll likely only love it or hate it for its puzzles alone.
Something The Witness definitely has going for it is its presentation; there's a lot of emphasis on what you take away from it visually. Its atmosphere is scenic and deliberate, and there's a lot of perspective tricks you can find just by wandering around the island. Of course, there will come a time during this game where you're likely to find that the line & dot puzzles are not limited to just the panels you see on screens; dot & line puzzles appear in the wild too; whether they're outlined in clouds, rivers, or buildings, and that aspect of The Witness is the most satisfying to discover and and continuously explore. It's immensely satisfying to see what you might think is a portion of an environmental puzzle, then piece together the rest of it, then find the right perspective to solve it. And so The Witness shines the most when it's being experienced as a casual exploration game. The panel puzzles are still good for the most part, though. Each area (11 in total) has a different puzzle gimmick, and it's fair to say they aren't all created equally. For every orchard and forest area, which communicate their rules quite effectively, there's a swamp or treehouse area, which can feel a little opaque. A lot of what you find easy or difficult to solve will depend on how your mind works, but the open world aspect of the game helps a little bit to alleviate these issues; you are free to start with what makes the most sense to you, and go from there.
For a game with only one real type of puzzle, it must be said that The Witness gets a tremendous amount of content out of it; the game currently is sitting at an average of over 22 hours on HowLongToBeat. But it's hard to say that TW can maintain interest over the full course of its playtime. It's the type of game that you start out super invested in, playing for a few hours at a time, but as you go on, your play time will likely decrease session-by-session. And it's a shame, because after you've cleared a certain amount of areas, the final area becomes available, which is the most creative and well-designed area in the game. But by this time, you're likely to be a bit too burned out on the puzzles to fully enjoy this new area. The challenge mode, unlocked after solving all 11 of the areas, is even more thrilling, but takes even more time to unlock. There's just too many base puzzles to slog through before getting to the really interesting ones, and that's amplified by how slow and meaningless the game feels.
Usually in games like The Witness, you'll be solving puzzles which serve in moving the game's story forward, or opening up more of the world to you. It's possible this is what The Witness thinks its doing, too; there are almost 50 audio logs which you can find throughout the island, usually located in some obscure area or behind an optional puzzle. But these aren't in service of a bigger story or connected narrative; in truth, outside of some loose connection to where you find them, they don't seem to serve any purpose at all. They're in the same vein as the secret video files you can find; they mean nothing, and their inclusion doesn't bolster the story or gameplay at all because, quite frankly, there is no story here.
The Witness is strictly a puzzle game, and the inclusion of all these other video and audio clips doesn't add some kind of grand mystery to the backdrop of the game, it just comes off as overly pretentious. It's clear that, while the game respects the player's intellect, it doesn't respect their time. And whether it's how slow the player moves or how long animations take, and the game's well-made puzzle system suffers because of it. Would the game be excellent if it was only puzzles? Probably not-there's still a need for a little more variety, especially considering its length-but it would have been significantly more enjoyable. Trying to piece together what The Witness is about, only for it all to amount to nothing in the end, is seriously unsatisfying, and bound to leave a bitter taste in the mouth of even the most adamant puzzle enthusiast.

This review contains spoilers

I am not sure how to feel about this game, not sure at all. Some parts are great, other parts are absolutely atrocious. Some parts were such a joy, some parts are downright painful. One part made me want to keep playing it forever, another part literally gave me a mental breakdown (or something close to it).
I am glad I have finished this game. Not only because I have completed a great challenge, but also because I don't have to suffer through this game anymore.
This game can feel so rewarding, yet also one of the most painful experiences I have had in recent years in gaming. (Do note I said it [i]feels[/i] rewarding, you gotta have an intrinsic joy for puzzles to keep that feeling though.)
Do [b]not[/b] play this game if you do not [i]really[/i] enjoy puzzles. This game is almost only puzzles. There is a bit of philosophy (which you will be too mentally engaged/fatigued to think about), but there is no story or music or lore or reward or anything. The only reward is more puzzles. You complete puzzles so you get to complete more puzzles so you can complete more puzzles. It is like a big Sudoku book, and once you complete one you get to complete 5 more. Each book twists the formula a bit, but by the end of the last Sudoku book you won't want to play Sudoku anymore. (Maybe this game is best experienced, where you complete one puzzle a day or only play when you have nothing else going on or only complete one section a week/month/year or something. I don't know...)
If you are someone who finds puzzles to be something that pads out a game, someone who sighs gently when they get stuck at a puzzle in a story game, or only played Portal 2 for the witty dialogue and story first and the puzzles second... then do not play this game.
If you do enjoy puzzles, then go ahead and play the game. At times you should have fun, but to limit suffering allow yourself to look up hints and guides and just understand you will never 100% this game on your own.
This is not the sort of game you complete without a guide or some hints, even without going for secrets you will certainly need help.
The Challenge looks actually interesting at first, but probably only because I like the music. Also I [b]love[/b] the environmental puzzles. I just think it is a bit naff that there seems to be no reward for finding them all.
Overall... get it on sale if you are willing to play with hints or not complete the game.
As for those wondering, I completed 90-95%+ puzzles without any sort of guides or hints. However, I really threw in the towel at the end. I also threw around a lot of swear words.
Also I activated all the lasers, which I don't think you needed to do to get the "Endgame" ending... so yeah.

I really enjoyed this game, from start to finish. Even if it was a bit pretentious.
The puzzles are entirely just lines you draw on surfaces, with mechanics being built on that basic premise, as with most puzzle games -- except the way it teaches you them without conventional tutorials is extremely creative and causes a lot of substantial "a-ha!" moments.
A lot of the mechanics really tie in perfectly with the themes around perspective, as well. I love how much this game is tailored around it. I won't spoil exactly how, but it had me impressed on multiple occasions. Pretentious, yes, but even if you don't like it, it shouldn't make the game any worse for you.

O jogo é legal mas eu sou burro.

Babygirl this game is yuckydisgusting.
But in all seriousness, this game is just a conga line of disappointments. The best thing about it is the way it looks, and that's saying something because my computer doesn't have a graphics card so I had to play on the lowest settings. Hearing it was a puzzle game taking place in such a vibrant, diverse environment, I was so excited for some cool environment-based puzzles, like finding items and such. So seeing that the entire gameplay was just... essentially just water pipe puzzles. Walk around, find more water pipe puzzles. And the fact that they're all on screens makes it feel even more sad to me. There's nothing I could really say about this game that hasn't already been said. This game isn't worth $40. It's barely worth $20, because although the map itself is great, it doesn't justify its own existence. These puzzles didn't need to take place on this island. Exploring it would've been more fun if it had rewards involved. But finishing puzzles just unlocks... more puzzles. And then... videos and voice tapes. I don't know. I'm done thinking about this game.

Played it together with a friend. Was a tad too long but otherwise a fun game, especially for couch coop.

it's crazy how many people think it's a personal attack on their intelligence when a game tells them they shouldn't play it if they don't care

This review contains spoilers

This is a really tough game to review.
As a meditation on obsession and the value of quiet reflection, this game only succeeds the same way La Croix succeeds in tasting like fruit: kinda. I found the audio log in the mountain endgame area about "zen moments" made the latter click with me, and the optional cave section and secret ending made the former make a good deal of sense to me. Here are the ramblings of someone trying to make sense of this game at 1 AM:
The effects of obsession are portrayed in subtle ways throughout The Witness. Your character closes their eyes to pause the game, and floating puzzles drift by as afterimages, inescapable even inside their own eyelids. The constant environmental puzzles, too, reinforce that ALL they can think about is puzzles, even when you're not looking at the puzzle panels. (Although that may be somewhat of a stretch on my part)
A secret ending in which live-action footage of a person waking up (perhaps the player character) and ambling about, gesturing towards certain household items, features of the house, and shapes in the backyard plays with this idea. Perhaps inspired by the phenomenon felt by many whom have played this game, only to see circles and lines they desperately wish they could trace whilst on their commutes. Becoming far too invested in The Witness, like anything, can upset the delicate balance of one's mind, and perhaps their whole life.
The Witness contains inherent contradictions. At once both seeking to be a zen experience where one can find a meditative experience coupled with eureka moments, and a game that stresses the importance of balance, not becoming too immersed in any one thing. However, where it falters in the delivery of this message is largely down to timing. Having the player consider how they're spending their time while they're playing would be one thing, but by the time they hit the caves they likely will have already cleared most of what they intend to clear. In the context of a post-game cave, the message delivered is this: you could have spent your time better. A shame, really, as spending just a little more time gets you that wonderful timed challenge to complete, which might have been my favorite part of the whole game.
As far as puzzle game design goes, this one's got lots and lots of great stuff. There's a wide array of puzzle rules to follow, and without fail they are explained wordlessly and in such a way that mindful players should have no problem figuring out what all the symbols and puzzle types are, if given enough time and patience. The sheer variety of environmental puzzles is to be celebrated, as well. It boggles the mind to think of how much was considered when designing this game, and yet it feels largely effortless.
Puzzle-related nitpicks aren't plentiful but I did encounter some things I didn't enjoy. Firstly, boat puzzles were always a slog. Even if I could clearly see the solution, if I failed there was always an awkward boat ride that lasted way too long while I tried to reset and go again. They also made me somewhat motion sick at times, a perfect segue for my next, and biggest nitpick: accessibility.
The Witness is not a very accessible game by any stretch of the imagination. For those with hearing disabilities, colorblindness, an inclination towards motion sickness, and so on, this game could be rendered impossible or incredibly difficult, without the use of a guide. In my case, the boat, along with the spinning/scrolling panels in the endgame mountain area proved the most challenging parts of my time with this game.
Wrapping up my assorted thoughts on The Witness, I want to stress one thing: I actually did really like it. Most of what I wrote may seem negative, but that's in large part due to the scarcity of genuinely negative aspects of this game, in my eyes. The notebook I keep by my side while gaming (and my friend Bret's DMs) were constantly being updated with new things I was appreciating about The Witness, big and small.
At the end of the day, I think it's well worth a shot. It's a mindfully crafted experience, a real sipping on whiskey type game. Do a small chunk of an area when the mood strikes you, finish a section of the map over an afternoon and set the game down again until you want to sip on it a bit more. My advice? Just like the game, and the whiskey bottle say: enjoy in moderation.

in a word? pretentious.
idc to even figure out what that title even means because i know it doesnt actually mean anything. its probably just that dumb "open to interpretation" bullshit.
this game is stupid, lazy, and worthless as art.
the puzzles are fine but theyre irrelevant to the games lazy shallow themes because they dont interact with each other in a way that matters.
all this game needed to be was puzzles on a pretty island. throw away the pretentious art film "story"
it acts all mysterious with its environment and its attempts at world building masquerading as if it has a story to tell but it obviously doesnt. its just a random bunch of biomes and eras of human technology and historical periods that dont actually mean anything. its just a mystery box vibe game. its not deep or interesting in the way it thinks it is.
the audio diaries are insufferably pretentious. that shouldve been a thing you open in the menu to read or listen to. not an autoplay thing you cant shut up. actually just remove that completely its a lazy way to insert themes and ideas into the game. ideas that again have fuck all to do with the actual gameplay of the game. and theyre all quotes by other people! this isnt respectable or interesting art! its just a collage of other peoples quotes! stfu!!!!
i wish i could spoil the ending to this game for everyone planning to play it because i hate it that much. i dont think the game deserves the right to waste peoples time like that. people should be warned of the pseudo-intellectual bullshit this game is gonna throw at them when its over. i had a suspicious feeling of fear about this game that it was gonna have a stupid ending. it was the same feeling i had towards the endings of Lost and Twin Peaks thinking "uh oh... this aint going anywhere but its gonna act like its more important than it is" so i looked up the ending ahead of time and i dont regret it because i was fuking right! the final ending is just a “it was just a simulation/dream” ending😒😒😒 its so fucking lazy. the way its filmed is so cheap & tacky. the whole thing is just a cop out. its so elementary. this is what bad artists do when they give up and cant think of an ending because their ideas were shallower than they wanted them to be.
“sighhh it’s so dumb.”😑
people deserve real art or a normal game. not a shallow game pretending to be art and failing.
a game not being art is not an insult. its okay if the only art in the game is just the art design and having a visual style.
like you dont need to insert dumb philosophy monologues to be considered smart and artistic. its fine.. its okay for a game to be just a bunch of puzzles on a pretty island you dont need to impress ppl with anything else its fine. something being just simple and entertaining still has value i promise!!!!
like im not against games being more deep but like do it right and focus on that. again dont just throw it in lazily to act like its somehow now an intellectual art piece.
this is a game made by lazy talentless people pretending to be artists without putting in the work needed to be actual art to trick dumb people into thinking theyre smart for playing it.
none of this means anything.
you made a bunch of tricky clever puzzles and thats great! but beyond that you didnt actually DO anything artistic or interesting thematically and you didnt need to.
shut up.
i was expecting more puzzle variety not just drawing lines on panel boards the whole time but whatever its fine. theres a lot they did with that simple idea. its mostly works.
some of the lines you draw are gimmicky but its fine.
having to redo the previously solved puzzle after failing one is annoying.
i dont hate first person games but there should be an option to play in 3rd person.
im colorblind so some of these puzzles i couldnt even see or they gave me weird optical illusions that hurt my eyes. so some of the puzzles were impossible for me to complete without collaboration from friends. which compels me to 1 star this game for not having the option to change these things in the settings. why would you not fucking include a colorblind mode? most colorblind people are men. most gamers are men. its stupid. same applies to the sound puzzles i couldnt hear what i was supposed to hear so it was impossible for me to complete those puzzles without the help of friends.
im not dumb this game is just unfair sometimes. you dont have to do all the color puzzles to beat the game but still: go fuck yourself jonathan blow.
a tip/hint guide wouldve been nice to have when things get too confusing. i hate when games make me want to look things up. i wouldnt have gotten through this game without the help of friends. its cool for a game to be hard but i want to get through a game if i started it and i want it to be a self contained experience and this game wouldn’t have given me that. its ok to have difficulty settings you can change while playing. not doing that is inherently exclusionary. people bought your game they should be able to experience All of it on some level.
jonathan blow is not a good person.
the island is sorta confusing and i couldnt really form a visual map of it in my head because its so nonlinear. the map given on the boat is nice but i wish it was available at anytime. traveling on the boat is also clumsy and tedious af
i wish the game would log which puzzles youve finished in a menu so youd know which you havent done and also to know which are optional.
theres several puzzles that just open a door to a puzzle area already completed making it pointless. the open world aspect kinda messes with any progression the game already has but tries to avoid by being nonlinear.
sometimes the puzzles are just about positioning yourself correcting on the ground and looking at the right angle which can be stupidly difficult to get right. it doesnt give you a feeling of accomplishment its just annoying and arbitrary.
the open world approach is sort of nice at times because you can explore other areas if something is hard.
but its a somewhat linear game trying to be open world but it doesnt work as well as it could. sometimes its unclear if youve learned the necessary puzzle mechanics or not so you dont know if youre just stupid or if the game is just allowing you to attempt a puzzle you have no knowledge of how to solve.
sometimes youll do a very hard set of puzzles then later do a very easy set of puzzles realizing you shouldve done them in a reverse order. but the game just doesnt guide you towards its areas in a linear enough way. give me like 4 areas of equal difficulty to deal with in whatever order i want then open it up to harder ones after, not everything all at the same time.
at least its beautiful looking i guess.

Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Game