The Witness Image
Metascore
87

Generally favorable reviews - based on 82 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.1

Mixed or average reviews- based on 578 Ratings

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  • Summary: You awaken, alone, on a strange island full of puzzles that challenge and surprise you. You can't remember who you are, and you don't remember how you came to be here, but there's one thing you can do: explore the island in hope of discovering clues, regaining your memory, and somehowYou awaken, alone, on a strange island full of puzzles that challenge and surprise you. You can't remember who you are, and you don't remember how you came to be here, but there's one thing you can do: explore the island in hope of discovering clues, regaining your memory, and somehow finding your way home. The Witness is a single-player game in an open world with dozens of locations to explore and over 500 puzzles to solve. This game respects you as an intelligent player and it treats your time as precious. There's no filler; each of those puzzles brings its own new idea into the mix. Expand

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The Witness Announcement Trailer (PS4)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 71 out of 82
  2. Negative: 2 out of 82
  1. Play UK
    Mar 25, 2016
    100
    An intensely satisfying and stupendously intelligent puzzle game that's incredibly well crafted, making it a very early, yet solid, Game of the Year contender. [Issue#267, p.62]
  2. Jan 25, 2016
    100
    The intricate puzzles and tantalizing secrets of this starkly gorgeous, mystical island are enough to lose yourself in for dozens of hours.
  3. Feb 1, 2016
    95
    I don’t think The Witness is a contender of the best game ever, but I do think it’s one of the best puzzle games out there. It does everything a puzzle game should do and does it well. I would like to see a bit more opportunities to interact with objects in the world, but I completely understand why that wasn’t part of the “deliberate” design architecture. Quite simply, The Witness has been one of the best experiences in gaming I’ve had in a long time, probably in about 7 years.
  4. 90
    It’s a brilliant, beautiful, masterfully crafted work, and the more you discover, the more apparent it is.
  5. Feb 4, 2016
    90
    The Witness is an expansive and wickedly smart follow-up to Braid, with puzzles to test even the brightest minds. Its mental gymnastics are well worth the occasional frustration, and you'll come out feeling like a genius.
  6. Feb 3, 2016
    83
    The Witness is one of the most elegant puzzlers around. It'll make you think, it'll make you laugh, and it'll make you yell. Above all else, though, it'll take you on one memorable journey that will stay with you for a long time.
  7. Jan 25, 2016
    40
    It's easy to fall in love with The Witness, and even easier to have your heart broken by the callous indifference of Jonathan Blow's beautiful island. A healthy challenge is good for any game, but the puzzles on display here offer few inroads to understanding for those who can't think exactly like their creator.

See all 83 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 66 out of 118
  2. Negative: 25 out of 118
  1. Mar 9, 2016
    10
    Masterpiece of a puzzle game. Beautiful world and creative, evolving puzzles that can really challenge you. And an open, optional endgameMasterpiece of a puzzle game. Beautiful world and creative, evolving puzzles that can really challenge you. And an open, optional endgame that rewards exploration. If you don't like puzzles you won't like this game, but if you do it's a must-play. Expand
  2. Jan 31, 2016
    10
    This is the best designed puzzle game I've ever played. There's no nonsense in this game, just a very complete experience.

    For me, the best
    This is the best designed puzzle game I've ever played. There's no nonsense in this game, just a very complete experience.

    For me, the best puzzles can't involve rote memorization or having to backtrack to a different area to get a key or something. The best ones just give you all of the tools you need and then you need to stare at it for a few minutes to work it out. If a game's really good, I might even pull out a notebook to work on a serious business puzzle. That's the type of puzzle that The Witness offers.

    If there's a puzzle you can't figure out, try exploring a bit more, you'll get it eventually. I just beat it and the only times I got stuck were because I had made some random assumption about how a puzzle worked. The only ones I didn't like were the tone puzzles because I can't hear tones worth a damn.
    Expand
  3. Jan 26, 2016
    10
    The Witness is a puzzle game that essentially revolves around only one type of puzzle. Although there are variations to it, you’ll basicallyThe Witness is a puzzle game that essentially revolves around only one type of puzzle. Although there are variations to it, you’ll basically spend your time going around solving finger maze puzzles. However there is an environmental element to the puzzles where you’ll find solutions in the world around you. That in my opinion is a really clever implementation by Jonathan Blow (the genius who made Braid). But don’t let finger puzzles put you off... play this game, the world of The Witness is absolutely breathtaking and there is a good story behind all the puzzles even though it is quite subtle.
    In my honest opinion this game is better than The Talos Principle and is on par if not better than the original Myst Games. However my biggest concern is the price, 40 dollars is just too much for an indie game with only one mechanic. The game itself however is an absolute joy and possibly one of the games of the year.
    Expand
  4. Jul 25, 2017
    9
    Jonathan Blow has produced another fascinating game that is ALMOST a masterpiece of game design. However, I think it is just a little bit tooJonathan Blow has produced another fascinating game that is ALMOST a masterpiece of game design. However, I think it is just a little bit too frustrating to deserve that coveted title in game history. However, make no mistake, it will be remembered for years to come for all that it does well - since it has gone from "Zero to One" (to quote Peter Thiel's book) - created a market for itself - just like only a visionary product can, by simply side-stepping all competition through radical innovation.

    But first, let's look at the only other points of comparison that I can think of. 1) Braid. Blow's previous game shares many design similarities, but it is a fundamentally different sort of game. 2) The Myst series. The only other puzzle game series that relies on player exploration, patience and mystery. 3) The Talos Principle. The "other" contemporary philosophical puzzle game. To sum it all up, I would say that The Talos Principle is more fun to play, but less mind-blowing overall. In general, I adore both The Witness and the Talos Principle, and I would recommend players to play through them both.

    So what does it do well? First, it avoids clichés and creates new ways to think about games - and reality itself. It challenges the player to rethink his own attitude towards challenges and puzzle solving. Those patient and curious players who don't throw the controller down at the first inconvenience, will find something special here. The game will start to invade their sleep. Their whole perceptual apparatus will be taken to places where no other game can take them.

    Secondly, the puzzles themselves are masterfully done and the player is given all the evidence to solve them. It's a fair game. From the simply line puzzles of the beginning to the brain-melting finale, there are a lot of puzzles to solve. Their simplicity might turn some people off, but it also means that the player is forced to really integrate the mechanics into his gut reactions and innermost being. There is sufficient variety and progression in complexity to keep things interesting all the way to the end.

    Thirdly, the game is absolutely beautiful from beginning to end. I played it on PS4 Pro, and the 1440p HDR output made the world come to life. The world is teeming with detail, style and colour, with innumerable little hidden secrets, nooks and crannies that make the world breathe, even without any fauna to populate it. The game world is a single, interconnected tapestry - a home away from home.

    But yes, then there are downsides. Unfortunately, the game is brutally hard and unforgiving by design. The game demands a lot from the player and gives very little positive feedback. It rewards you very slowly, sometimes not at all. This is meant to teach the player a lesson. But it can be a harsh lesson. And not everything can be excused on the basis of a spiritual exercise in patience.

    The Witness has all the aspects of a cult game. This game is definitely not for everybody. It has already found a niche fan base that really loves it, because they have fallen in love with its harsh, brutal, unforgiving challenges that are embedded in its (paradoxically) soothing, meditative world.

    For those lucky and crazy ones who persevere through its strict discipline (and/or design shortcomings), real beauties await. Two cliches can sum it all up: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and the destination is in the journey.
    Expand
  5. Dec 8, 2016
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The Witness is a really good puzzle game, some very tricky challenges in a lovely setting. This game has you doing unusual things, at one point I was sitting right at the TV tracing a path, the next I was turning up the volume really loud. Looking back through my notepad is like viewing the scribes from an alien language.

    I completed the main story and felt great satisfaction, only to then realise one extra challenge! I still have not beaten this challenge, I had plenty of attempts and I know I could do it with enough time, but finally the frustration got the better of me and there are other games to play. I feel this challenge has slightly detracted from the rest of the game which was enjoyable the whole way through.

    The puzzles are very clever but they all revolve around the central grid based theme. I cant help but think this limits the creativity. If they expanded the puzzle type I could imagine much more interesting gameplay and utilise even more of the environment, with more hidden mysteries. I feel this would make a good sequel.

    For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and exploring every corner of this enticing world. The developers deserve credit for making what is a dull mechanic very engaging, though this will always limit the games full potential.
    Expand
  6. Feb 15, 2016
    5
    Simply put the value for money this game offers is abyssmal. It feels like a well put together phone or tablet game, beautiful world, but oneSimply put the value for money this game offers is abyssmal. It feels like a well put together phone or tablet game, beautiful world, but one filled with line mazes and puzzles only. Lets face it who wants to pay alot of money for alot of line puzzles that lead nowhere important. Expand
  7. Jun 28, 2016
    0
    I had an issue installing The Witness which resulted in every file on my desktop being irretrievably deleted - yep, every pic, video,I had an issue installing The Witness which resulted in every file on my desktop being irretrievably deleted - yep, every pic, video, document. Absolute disaster. The distributor of the game, Steam, were utterly disinterested and even their parent company, Valve, made no effort whatever to try to help resolve the issue and basically told me to stop bothering them. You don't often come across customer service this bad these days.
    I'm a reasonably tech-savvy person and if it happened to me, it could happen to anyone.
    My advice - don't touch it with a bargepole.
    Expand

See all 118 User Reviews

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