The Witness is here. After approximately eight years of development, a budget bigger than every cent earned by Braid, and a press campaign that included rocking up at the PlayStation 4's reveal event, Jonathan Blow has finally put the lid on his 80 hour puzzler. But is it any good? Well, we don't know, because despite all of the above we still didn't get sent a review copy. A few sites did, though. Hurrah for them.
Destructoid - 10/10
Truthfully, I wish I didn't have to score The Witness. I don't want to set people up for that expectation; I don't want a voice in the back of their head that says "Okay, when does this become a ten?" In a way, that's unfair and detrimental to how the game should be experienced, which is as open-minded and unassuming as possible. Don't go to The Witness. Let The Witness come to you.
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.
Video Gamer - 10/10
I'm so caught up inside the world of The Witness that it's hard to think about anything else: like Tetris, this is its true power, and it is one of the best games I've ever encountered. 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?
Game Informer - 9.25/10
The opaque world might be disappointing for some players, but The Witness is about a different kind of discovery. It steers your mind in unconventional directions, and makes you feel clever as you build on your knowledge and uncover new layers about the game's language and logic. Even when I wasn't playing it, I was thinking about puzzles that had me stumped. Some puzzles are tough, but all of them are fair, and the fun of solving them is only topped by seeing what awaits you on the next series of monitors.
GameSpot - 9/10
That's what The Witness is about--gaining knowledge to make sense of the island and its gorgeous but exotic environments. The Witness molds its world, puzzles, and themes into such a layered, cohesive whole that, if we look hard enough, we'll keep finding new ways to perceive it. 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.
Polygon - 8/10
That said, I doubt I'll be heading back in for a completionist run. 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.
Venture Beat - 7/10
I admire a lot about The Witness. It is a beautiful game. It is a clever game. It is a big game. But all of its elements, mazes, exploration, and philosophy didn't really come together to express some greater theme. Unless I was meant to question why I hurt my brain to solve a series of difficult mazes for no real award.
Will you be giving The Witness a whirl when it releases this week? Are you still unsure whether the open world puzzler's for you? Solve a line puzzle in the comments section below.