The Witness - Análisis
Because after spending a whole weekend with him I still don't know if I hate The Witness or I love it. On the one hand, there are the moments of satiety when solving dozens of maze puzzles that gradually add new elements to the mix. On the other, I want to feel 'that' feeling again when I overcome them . That is one of the best kept secrets of this creation by Jonathan Blow, the feeling of accomplishment when overcoming a maze that you thought was impossible. When you finish a puzzle you feel almost almighty , at the height of the geniuses that appear in recorders and videos here and there. Because in The Witness there are no explanations of any kind, being we who interpret the tracks that the development team has been leaving. This is so with the puzzles, which teach us the secrets of their mechanics through practice, but also with history, which is discovered VERY little by little by solving more and more of the 650 mazes that have been included.
Everything starts simple, without explanations: a tunnel and the first contact with the mazes. Press the Square button and a dot appears on the screen. We press X and the point seems to want to highlight something. You just have to find a circle to highlight and start the magic of the mazes , the main mechanic used to advance The Witness. At first we will only have to find the exit, but things will gradually complicate themselves to unsuspected extremes: we will trace geometric shapes, we will have to go through different points, separate elements, look for symmetries ... We will even get to get inside the mazes ourselves! The variants are many, but even more so their combinations, making these simple mazes the main protagonists of the production . Sometimes we will finish up to our noses, without fully understanding the requirements of a puzzle, but at least we will have the possibility to continue exploring the island of The Witness.
Exploring the 10 zones the island is divided into is the other half of The Witness, which is an open world, but full of closed doors, which can only be unlocked by solving a puzzle. Of course, at first we can get there and try our luck, however, it is more than likely that we do not understand the mechanics of the solution, which will force us to go back and look for simpler puzzles in which we learn what to do with the mazes. However, after a few first hours in which the marked path is 'more or less' clear, we will be able to abandon the marked paths and discover the secrets of this island, walking through its beautiful forests, discovering landscapes and reaching places every more curious. It will be at this time when we begin to discover recorders with information, to ask what are those blackish totems that populate the island and to find the first environmental puzzles (Yes, the stage is also full of labyrinths).
In reality, The Witness manages to hook us with its proposal thanks to the feeling of continuous realization , and the possibility of leaving a puzzle too complicated and returning to solve it later, when we are fresh (it has happened to us that after multiple attempts with a puzzle we have left to play, to solve it the first time after turning on the console) . The game world is large and intricate , and it will take us a long time to discover all its areas, but even more so to unravel the many secrets it hides. By the time we know how to locate each of the areas, we will already be axes with the mazes, and we can afford to ask ourselves if The Witness has a history. And it has it, light, but complete. What's more, the game can be finished just by completing the main areas , and leaving hundreds of unsolved mazes, recorders without finding and videos without seeing. In that case we will feel powerful, but we will not understand too much, so we will want to go back and discover the rest of the subtleties that give meaning to the paranoia of The Witness. There are many, many hours of play (so many that we have not managed to find everything), which will take us to fully understand the plot of the proposal.
Also, everything in The Witness is geared towards focusing on puzzle solving. There is no music, the sound effects are not too frequent (although always correct) and the visual section exudes affection and variety, but without being overloaded or showing anything that should surprise us technically, to the point that we will notice a certain popping in the detail of elements of the landscape (which does not make us face a less beautiful game). It seems that Blow's intention was to leave us in front of an almost blank sheet of paper, only populated by labyrinths in the purest 'hobby book' style, while we stroll through an idyllic island. In this sense, The Witness is a success, as it offers something different that treats the player as an intelligent entity, rather than as a mere agent within the function that has been organized. It may be minimalist, yes. You may get tired and despair too. The Witness can even be blamed for being self-indulgent. However, while you play, you live on the island and you just want to solve 'that' puzzle more and discover the mystery behind it. A challenge at the height of the best minds, which also has an extraordinary design.
A game so different that we recommend playing it with a pencil and paper next to it.