Game designer, Jonathan Blow, may have designed one of the hardest games he's ever made with The Witness. Despite its difficulty, it looks great.
On the surface, The Witness looks like a beautiful open-world video game set on a tropical island. In reality though, the actual game is a series of puzzle-mazes that you have to get through. It's an interesting concept that puts a new spin on the puzzle solving genre.
First of all, let's talk about how beautiful the graphics are in The Witness. There are many pretty games on the PS4, but The Witness may be the best looking one on the console to date. It has a bright color palette and amazing level design that makes the whole game a visual masterpiece to look at.
What I like most about the visuals is that it has a cartoon-look design not too dissimilar to the graphics seen in Nintendo's The Wind Waker video game. The cel-shaded graphics adds a little variety compared to the many 3D style of games out there. It's like you have been transported inside of an actual cartoon.
The tropical island also has nice scenery for you to gawk at as well. Not only are there trees, but there is a beach, waterfalls, castles and even a desert to visit too. The island is small compared to AAA open-world video games, but it's big enough for you to explore and find out secret hidden walkways and more.
However, exploration is only half of the fun in this game. The core gameplay is solving maze puzzles like the ones you may see in a kid's activity book or in a newspaper. The goal is to start from the beginning of a maze and navigate your way through until the end. The first few puzzles are easy, but then the game gets difficult the more puzzles you find.
The difficulty curve spikes after you exit the first area and finish the tutorial. After that, you are on your own and you have to find your own puzzles to solve. The game has no map and nor does it give you any clues on how to solve puzzles. You have to find out things for yourself which is why this game is difficult.
I didn't like how this game doesn't give you any clues in order to solve the harder puzzles. It's all trial and error based as you have to find out what certain symbols mean by yourself. Some puzzles get really difficult to solve because the grid requires you to group certain colors or even create a certain shape.
The game doesn't tell you what the symbols mean which gets annoying sometimes. I managed to find out what some colours mean, but other symbols are still foreign to me. You also have to look on the ground for wires as some of them lead you to puzzles that you may have to solve first. This is because all of the puzzles are powered by electricity and you have to find the main power source first.
It's worth mentioning you need to be a very smart and patient gamer in order to fully appreciate the the pace in The Witness. It's not the type of game that will give you instant gratification. The first hour or so I didn't know what the heck I was supposed to be doing. It wasn't until I solved the first few puzzles did I find some small clues on how to solve the harder puzzles in the game. After that, you then want to explore the rest of the island to open secret doors and more.
Overall, The Witness is one of the most unique puzzle games I have ever played in my life. I don't think I've played a puzzle game before that has an entire open-world island that you can get to explore. The gameplay is addictive and the graphics are one of the best I've ever seen. However, the game is not perfect. The difficulty curve might be too hard for some gamers and the lack of clues might frustrate some gamers. Only consider playing this game if you are the patient type of gamer.