Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Game review: The Witness

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A scene from the Playstation 4 game The Witness.
A scene from the Playstation 4 game The Witness.

You could cheat. That's the one downside of a game that includes so many visual puzzles: if you get stuck, they're all readily available and easily accessible online.

Entire walkthroughs for The Witness are already up on YouTube, so you don't need to go through the pain of solving this game yourself. You can just watch someone else do it.

But why would you? Part of the delight of experiencing The Witness, an indy title out now on PlayStation 4 and PC, is the sheer delight that comes from deciphering its maddening puzzles, each unlocking a clue that builds towards solving the game.

With more than 650 puzzles to complete, The Witness pares back expectations about what a game should be. If you're looking for sharp graphics, compelling stories or complicated characters, this is not the game for you.

Likewise, if you just want to shoot things, go grab Call of Duty, there's nothing to see here.

A scene from Playstation 4 game The Witness.
A scene from Playstation 4 game The Witness.

What The Witness does have is gameplay that will destroy you. Its puzzles are complex, maddening, soul-destroying works of art that will make you bite your fingernails down to the skin. Some of these puzzles seem so ridiculously simple, yet are so damned difficult to solve, you will curse creator Jonathan Blow for thinking up the damned things.

You will spend large chunks of time just trying to separate white balls from black ones, or getting snake-like lines from one side of a box to another. At the end of each session, when you realise you've still got hundreds of puzzles to go, you will probably think twice about ever playing a puzzle game again.

But you will want to finish The Witness, no matter how hard it gets. Blow has even warned there's one puzzle so difficult only 1 per cent of players will solve it.

Yes, you can cheat. But don't. You might ruin one of the gaming experiences of the year.

Game: The Witness
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC
Verdict: A puzzle game that will defeat you

- TimeOut

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