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What I Want in 2012: The Witness

by naveenwf   //   1:43 PM on 01.13.2012

Indie games don't often get heavy marketing. Word of mouth is usually the largest way for Indie games to garner financial success. A game like The Witness deserves and will most likely get such success. This is primarily because it's being designed by Indie game guru Jonathon Blow. For those of you that don't already know, Mr. Blow designed XBLA (and now Steam and PSN) game Braid (which Destructoid, and specifically, reverendanthony, seem to absolutely love), a time-manipulation based platformer which boasts stunning visuals, a brilliant soundtrack, clever puzzles and an enigmatic yet thematic narrative.

I loved braid. And I'm going to love The Witness. In fact, if GTA V isn't released this year, Iím certain The Witness will be my game of the year.



Well, thatís enough about Blow and Braid. Witness is an exploration-based puzzle game set on a fully-3D beautiful uninhabited island. When Blow created the game, he designed the puzzles first and kept the buildings and/or areas the puzzles were in very primitive, often just as placeholders until a further point in development when he would know what to do with it. From the beginning he didnít just want the island to be a setting for puzzles, but rather a rich island with deep stories waiting to be told. Because of this, Blow has hired two architectural firms, FOURM design (for buildings and such), and David Fletcher Studio (for landscape architecture), to help create an island that feels genuine with a history to each area and building.

And all this architectural work is completely relevant to the main story - the detail to the island will reflect the many times civilizations has been at that island, embodying their various philosophies and beliefs. This way, backstory of the game can be presented non-verbally, imbued into the architecture and landscape of the world. Different styles on the island may represent different inhabitants; Blow essentially hired architects so that the island feels deeper and so that it would be brought alive. He says, "the game is constructed so that the more you pay attention to tiny details during your travels, the more insight you will have to the central story".


The Keep, before and after the architects' work.

The only criticism with Braid was itís short length; I thought the gameís value was so high that the length really wasnít a problem. However, Blow has said that The Witness will be three to four times the size of Braid. He believes in to-the-point puzzles, so donít worry, the game wonít be full of filler material.

One of the reasons The Witness caught my eye is because of itís similarity with Myst, or at least as far as I remember. I was very young, too young, to have remembered what Myst was about at all. I do although have vague memories of Myst, as this was one of the first games that my dad played after the arcade days. I remember watching my older brother, cousin and dad play through the game, and even now, if I look through the garage, Iíd be able to find a notepad full of scribbling; a mix of numbers, diagrams and words - notes for the many hard puzzles that Myst had.

Knowing Braid, I'm sure the game will be incredibly atmospheric with a great soundtrack. The art, as you can see from the screenshots, are brilliant. It's a colourful, deep, rich world that looks great, as far as Indie or retail games go.

So, please keep an eye out for The Witness when it releases this year, and make sure to buy it if youíre into exploration/puzzle games.Photo Photo Photo view gallery
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