The Witness: The Playthrough, Part 1

This will be a series of articles in which I detail my blind playthrough of the indie first-person puzzle game, The Witness. Just for fun, I will discuss the sights and puzzles I encounter, my inevitable hardships along the way, and my thoughts on what it all means. That being said, if you have not yet played the game and intend to experience it for yourself, spoilers abound hereafter; you have been warned!

First off, my initial thought when booting up The Witness: wow, this game is beautiful! I feel as if I am playing a video game inside of a carefully-crafted painting. Everything is bright and soaked in vivid colors, and the sounds of the island (though it is fairly quiet) are wonderfully done as well.

Once I had finished that thought and got over how pretty everything was, I began solving the game’s first line puzzles. It took a few of them to get used to the mechanics of it all, but after the initial puzzles I was feeling pretty good about myself. The Witness is a game I had heard is very difficult, so after completing the first area’s challenges in fairly short time, I was left wondering if I was a line-puzzle genius that had just discovered my true purpose in life. Then the gate separating the first area and the rest of the island swung open, and I stepped out into the open expanse. I followed a path to another set of puzzles and… Reality, or shall I say The Witness, slapped me hard in the face. I solved this set of line mazes too, but it took much longer and had me scratching my head as if I were infested with lice (ew, I know).

Afterwards, I meandered about for a while, exploring different areas I came across. I played around with some puzzles inside of a windmill and even managed to make it begin rotating. It doesn’t mean much to me yet, but eventually I’m sure I’ll double back there armed with more knowledge of how the game’s puzzles work. In fact, this seems to be a core principle of The Witness that I’ve picked up on so far. If you encounter a puzzle that doesn’t make much sense to you yet, leave it alone and find something that looks familiar or at least simpler. So with this new approach to the game, I wandered from place to place and eventually found an area I now know to be called The Marsh.

At The Marsh, I found a series of puzzle panels that began very simple and progressed to more complex. This was familiar; this was kind of like the series of panels I encountered at the beginning of the game. In short, it was at The Marsh that I figured out these series of panels are what I should be searching for in my travels, because this is how The Witness is going to teach me to solve these frustrating little line mazes (for those not familiar with the game, there are a variety of different styles of line puzzles, each with their own set of rules). Even after completing these “tutorial panels” and moving on to the actual puzzles of this area, it took some time for me to finish them all in The Marsh. Once I completed the final puzzle of this region (which involved platforms moving as I solved the same line puzzle over and over in different designs), I claimed my first Achievement in The Witness (my playthrough is on an Xbox One). With the Achievement, I watched a gun-like device rise out of a box and shoot a bright laser to a nearby mountaintop.

Naturally, I found a path and worked my way up to that very mountaintop. At the peak, I discovered multiple stone statues of people in various poses and outfits. And I also found an audio log, which played a lengthy quote. I’m not sure what to make of the statues at this point, but the quote definitely seemed to be dealing with the “cosmic perspective” of the world. I’ll keep pondering those statues and what they mean as I continue exploring and drawing lines.

As I progress further in The Witness, I will post the next part in this series.