The release date announcement follows up on months of project updates and mid-development expansions. Blow notes that the game in its current state is much larger than what he had originally envisioned.
“When we started making this game, I figured it would have between 8 and 12 hours of playtime,” Blow stated. “As it happens, the game we’ve finally built is around 10 times as big as that: if you are a completionist who wants to wring every last drop out of the game, you might expect to play for 80 hours, or possibly 100. For people who don’t want to go quite that far, the game’s still got plenty for you.”
Similar in premise to the classic point-and-click PC adventure game Myst, The Witness is a first-person game that focuses on exploration and puzzle-solving. Players wander a vast island filled with mysterious structures and monuments that hint at solutions to puzzles scattered throughout the game’s world.
The Witness features no dialog during gameplay, and instead immerses players in a pure puzzle-solving experience. The game is structured in an open-ended fashion, allowing players to explore ahead and encounter puzzles they may not yet be equipped to solve. Puzzle solutions feed into other sequences later in the game, however, and players absorb information throughout that allows them to better approach the game’s challenges.
The Witness is a long-anticipated follow-up to Blow’s debut project, the side-scrolling puzzle-platformer Braid. Originally released for the Xbox 360 in 2008, Braid featured unique gameplay mechanics that allowed players to rewind time, and featured a distinct backing narrative throughout. Featured prominently in Indie Games: The Movie, Braid is widely regarded as an important catalyst for the boom of indie game development that has followed in the wake of its release.
The Witness will launch digitally for the PlayStation 4 and PCs on January 26, 2016.