The Witness Review Roundup

Here's what critics thought of Jonathan Blow's new game.

33 Comments

After many years of development, Braid developer Jonathan Blow's next game, The Witness, is finally being released. Ahead of its January 26 launch on PS4 and PC, reviews have been published and GameSpot has gathered a selection of them from around the Internet.

Take a look below to find a list of scores, along with a short excerpt from each review. By the time you're done reading, you'll have a good overview of the game's critical reception.

For a wider view on the game's critical reception, head to GameSpot sister site Metacritic.

  • Game: The Witness
  • Developer: Thekla, Inc.
  • Platform: PS4, PC, iOS
  • Release Date: January 26
  • Price: $40
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GameSpot -- 9/10

"There are still things about The Witness I can't make sense of--some clues I might never notice, and some puzzles I might never solve. But the hints are there. It might not all be clear at first, but that's okay, because I'm always learning." -- Mike Mahardy [Full review]

Polygon -- 8/10

"It's a beautiful game and knowing that I finished it with minimal help actually does make me feel smarter. It also contains some subtle messages about human potential that I found surprisingly uplifting (when I wasn't pulling my hair out). Despite feeling deeply satisfied by the experience, it's hard for me to ignore how much time I spent frustrated and bored and angry. Maybe contrasting those two ends of the emotional spectrum is essential to the experience of playing The Witness, but an era when they can skip the frustration, I'm not convinced most players will have the patience to obtain it." -- Justin McElroy [Full review]

Destructoid -- 10/10

"What truly makes The Witness everything that it is lies somewhere between the fundamentals of the puzzles and the deeply philosophical of everything else. These two work in tandem, complementing each other even when they seem worlds apart. There are so many layers of separation between the two that it's almost impossible to perceive or even conceive. But, they're there, working hand-in-hand and, on some level, one in the same. You'd be hard-pressed to declare that one of these components is closer to defining The Witness than the other." -- Brett Makedonski [Full review]

IGN -- 10/10

"The Witness has a power and pull that carried me throughout the more than 40 hours it took to complete it for the first time, and that, even now, beckons me back to confront the mysteries I left unsolved. Its graceful combination of tangible goals, obscurity, and freedom creates ample opportunity for small victories and grand revelations alike. For the most part, its themes weave themselves beautifully throughout the gorgeous world and wide variety of puzzles, but even when it breaks subtlety in favor of a more heavy-handed approach to exposition, it never detracts from the truly fulfilling moments The Witness offers in terms of solving its physical puzzles and unlocking its deepest mysteries." -- Chloi Rad [Full review]

PC Gamer -- 89/100

"The Witness might be constructed around mechanical challenges with unambiguous outcomes, but as the choice of title implies, what it ultimately seeks to offer is a vantage point, a perspective on life's mysteries, rather than answers." -- Edwin Evans-Thirlwell [Full review]

VideoGamer -- 10/10

"Coming from Jonathan Blow, the man behind puzzle platformer Braid, it should be no surprise that The Witness isn't exactly as it seems. After a slow start (I'll admit that I wondered how such a simple-seeming game had taken so many years to make) the whole thing builds and builds until your mind has seemingly no space left. You have no quiet moments; Tetris shapes, black, white, green, blue, orange, grids, lines, are everywhere ... Playing The Witness is a real emotional rollercoaster, with flashes of anger, despondency, jubilation, awe, smugness, and admiration. Who would have thought you could get all that from a game about drawing lines?" -- Tom Orry [Full review]

GamesRadar+ -- 3/5

"As brilliant as it is infuriating, The Witness' ingenious puzzles all too easily have their shine worn away by length and a constantly extending complexity." -- Leon Hurley [Full review]

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Avatar image for Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

As I said, the reviewers are simply afraid to score it low, because they fear to show they were too dumb to understand the Great Blow's Ultimate Creation. Yet nobody has understood it, it seems.

Avatar image for Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

This type of game depends a lot on the individual. Some love and welcome challenging puzzles, others might find it annoying.

Avatar image for Jasurim
Jasurim

10/10?

Huh....well that's something. I can't help but still be a little skeptical, it definitely has my attention though.

Avatar image for leondelon51
leondelon51

@Jasurim: It's all bowling has been working on since braid, if nothing else it's still a game that had enormous amounts of passion put into it. If you've ever seen indie gamer the movie you'll see that bowling is honestly quite genius (and that is a powerful word to me). "Every game is a dialogue between the player and the gamer" was something he said that I never really thought about. He has an appreciation for the intimacy of games. I hope he reads this comment (he's notorious for reading every comment about him)

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Maybe it's good, but you think anything out of Blow would get bad scores these days from game journos? Wait for the Steam reviews, then we'll really know if it's good or not.

Online
Avatar image for Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

@Thanatos2k: Type of game where even laymen are afraid to be honest.

Avatar image for saturatedbutter
SaturatedButter

I could see 8/10 if it's really full of a lot of amazing puzzles and setpieces. But for a maze game with no story, I don't see how it can get any higher than that.

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

@saturatedbutter: Why don't you try playing it ? Then you might find out !!

Avatar image for geraldsanduski
geraldsanduski

Note, if you make a game worth $60, don't release it as digital only. Physical copies make it worth $20 more.

Avatar image for bigruss730
bigruss730

It's had mixed reviews.

Avatar image for Hurvl
Hurvl

It's nice to know that his game doesn't Blow.

Avatar image for PSNless
PSNless

For those wondering about the price, according to the IGN review, it takes 40-50 hours to complete the game and around 80-100 to complete everything. $40 seems reasonable for that amount of content if the puzzles don't get old. Catherine was a great puzzle game with a "full-price" and it had enough content to justify it (imo). I would find the "full-price" tag unreasonable for something like limbo or closure (although I loved those puzzle games).

Avatar image for amaneuvering
amaneuvering

This has to be one of the most stunningly beautiful games I’ve ever seen. And the icing on the cake is that this beauty didn’t come at the expense of it being a stunningly great game too.

http://www.inceptional.com/2016/01/25/the-witness-is-visually-stunning/

Also, a 10/10 on IGN—makes my heart soar.

An 9 on here is brilliant too.

Avatar image for berserker66666
berserker66666

When IGN gives a game 10, you know it's something special. Now I gotta get this game ASAP.

Avatar image for jay34mcr
Jay34mcr

@berserker66666: and when GS give a game a good score you know its time to look at other sites not being paid off lol

Avatar image for louixiii
LouiXIII

Way to start the year off.

Avatar image for skyhighgam3r
SkyHighGam3r

Perfect 10 from IGN? Dayum.

Avatar image for girlusocrazy
GirlUSoCrazy

OK I hate puzzles but everything I see about this makes me want to get it. It looks gorgeous, and actually seems relaxing...... Check out the GiantBomb QuickLook

Avatar image for joshrmeyer
JoshRMeyer

Jonathan Blows The Witness... sounds like a mistrial to me ha. But seriously, what's wrong with $40? Am I missing something that wouldn't justify that price?

Avatar image for skyhighgam3r
SkyHighGam3r

@joshrmeyer: Considering it's a PSN only game, the expectation was it would be 15-20 bucks.

It's quite a shock to see it double that.

and hard to justify paying that much for puzzles.

Avatar image for joshrmeyer
JoshRMeyer

@skyhighgam3r: Ah ok... well these flash sales are taking all my money and I'm still working on ethan carter. It'll probably be closer to $20 on the next flash sale.

Avatar image for brn-dn
brn-dn

@joshrmeyer: It's on PS4 with no physical copy available.

Avatar image for joshrmeyer
JoshRMeyer

@brn-dn: I only buy digital anyways... usually on a flash sale for under 20. Most digital games on psn aren $60 at launch. Is this super short or something? I'm sure it'll drop in price in a few months anyways, just curious.

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

FORTY DOLLARS? *spits out coffee*

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico
LTJohnnyRico

@Bread_or_Decide: Yeah its not too bad is it !! .. And judging by the reviews its getting I'd say its more than justified !! And its Digital only ..which is even better !!

Avatar image for Alurit
Alurit

you sure about the videogamer.com score? cause not in their video nor in their written review do they give it a score.

edit: it says it on the website my bad, apparently I am blind

Avatar image for ahpuck
ahpuck

@Alurit: Upper right corner. It says 10 out of 10.

Avatar image for Alurit
Alurit

@ahpuck: than I missed it my bad

Avatar image for brn-dn
brn-dn

Whoa, wasn't expecting 10's.

Hard work pays off I guess, still not gonna pay $40 for a digital only PS4 game though.

Avatar image for hystavito
hystavito

@brn-dn: Yeah I kinda thought he might turn out to be a bit of a one hit wonder but I guess not :).

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@brn-dn: I was more than ready to pick this up tomorrow but seriously WHAT IN CHRIST FUDGE is up with that price? Are they joking?

Avatar image for geraldsanduski
geraldsanduski

@Bread_or_Decide: it's probably got more content than a lot of games priced at $60. At least that's what I think when I hear 40-60 hours to complete.

Avatar image for skyhighgam3r
SkyHighGam3r

@Bread_or_Decide: My thoughts exactly. I was geared up my Card, and then saw the price....

For a PSN game, about puzzles... It's really hard to justify that price.

Even if it is a 10/10. I'm going to wait.

Meanwhile, I'll save my money for Gravity Rush.