[PS4] Tips on playing The Witness

No spoilers will appear in this post.

Gamer confession: I never really played much of Braid.

That's not a slight on it's designer, Jonathan Blow. I just never got into it, it never really grabbed me so to speak. I bring this up as a testament to how different of a beast his latest, The Witness, really is and why it should appeal to pretty much anyone who likes a good puzzler.

Because The Witness is a very good puzzler. Placing you alone on an island surrounded by puzzles sound possibly cliche, but Blow manages to avoid many of the normal pitfalls of the genre. By having the puzzles of the island be variants of common themes and giving you chances to build up the knowledge you need to solve them makes The Witness feel more like one long brain teaser rather than a motley assortment of riddles and puzzles.

That said, it can be daunting. I honestly don't know how far I am into the game, but from what I have played so far I can offer these tips:

  1. The island is of decent size but not so huge that you should feel you can't just wander away if a puzzle seems confusing. It's entirely possible that another portion of the island will make it easier to solve.

  2. If you think you know the mechanics of a puzzle and it still doesn't seem solvable, take a step back and look at the physical game world itself. Something nearby might change your perspective (obviously writing that in as spoiler free way as possible).

  3. In a new area, keep an eye out for what I call "trainers". These are the puzzles that are lined up directly in a row and usually are a starting point which slowly ramp up new aspects to the puzzles.

  4. On the flip side, if you have a puzzle with a substantial number of squares which includes a symbol you just don't recognize - it's possible that you aren't meant to solve that puzzle until you've found a more basic one with the same symbol.

  5. And finally, the age old trick to puzzlers: pace yourself. It's better to take a break from a puzzle and try it again with fresh eyes than to break down an Google a solution. The joy of The Witness is slowly breaking down the barriers of the puzzles, and looking up the answer will just lead to a joyless game.

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