Bear Witness

by Shane Dillon
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WITH 2016 looking like it’ll be a bumper year for gamers, the year is already off to a great start, with critics (and gamers) falling over themselves to praise the recently released The Witness (PS4/PC, Cert 3+), and showing an equally strong interest in Firewatch (PS4, Cert TBC, due out this week; see panel, right).
Both can be described as open world games with very strong, creative art direction, shying away from strikingly realistic graphics to create settings that are, quite simply, beautiful and original to look at. But first, The Witness …
Long in development by acclaimed indie developer Jonathan Blow, The Witness tasks you with exploring an island that’s divided into lots of distinctly different zones, and which is absolutely stuffed full of puzzles to solve – many hundreds of them, in fact.
While most are based on navigating from A to B though initially very, very simple maze-like grids – thus opening doors, or activating power lines, and so on – their designs soon ramp up into fiendishly head-scratching difficulty.
Other puzzles won’t give the player a break as they seek to complete the island’s secrets, unlock more parts of the island to explore, and work out the central mystery at the heart of the deserted island.
With scattered audio relics from the former inhabitants of the island, there’s a sense of something grand and mysterious having happened before your arrival at the seemingly idyllic island, where birds sing amidst the gloriously colourful trees and flowers, but half-ruined buildings litter the overgrown landscape.
Already a smash commercial and critical hit – and a popular title for those who watch gamers playing online, via sources such as Twitch – The Witness is definitely well worth taking a good look at.

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