‘The Witness’ for iOS brings you soothing graphics to accompany tough puzzles

The Witness
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends
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Puzzles can be exciting for some, and frightening for others. When you’re young, those big, colorful pieces were always exciting to put together — mainly because there weren’t very many of them. As you become older, the pieces become smaller and far more numerous and confusing. This week, we have an app that still brings you bright visuals accompanied by intense puzzles.

The Witness is a single-player game with over 500 puzzles, and it has a few distinguishing qualities from other such apps. For starters, the plot begins with you waking up alone on a deserted island. You’re unable to remember how you got there, and so you spend the game discovering clues and regaining your memory. Most importantly, you’re also attempting to find your way back home.

The game originally launched on PC and PS4 back in 2016, following by XBox One and Mac later on. While it’s already been available for Android, the app now has a home on iOS as well. You’ll have to make sure you’re running on iOS 10 or iOS 11 in order to be able to play it on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. As far as price goes, it will cost you $10, which seems expensive, but is a bargain compared to the $40 price tag it has for gaming consoles and desktops.

When I say it’s a single-player game, I really mean it. You get little to no direction other than the ability to walk completely throughout the locations to try and spot a clue. If you’re looking for a game with guidance and barely any no effort, you might want to consider one that’s far more easy-going. I’m not the biggest fan of puzzles but when I downloaded The Witness, I figured they would be a bit challenging but more simple for the most part — I was really wrong.

In the beginning, you start off walking through a dark tunnel and up a staircase to what looks like a garden. You’re on your own to find where the puzzles are and then solve them, though. The puzzles look extremely similar to the ones you’ve probably seen in coloring books, where you have to find the direct path to the exit. With this game, the biggest hint you’ll get is where the actual exit which is signaled by a blinking circle. But it’s up to you to figure out how to get there. To try and solve them, simply run your finger across the path you think is correct.

While the puzzles themselves are a struggle to solve, the interface is super easy to navigate and follow along wit. In order to move around, all you have to do is tap the screen twice to start running and once to walk or stop. If you want to run further distances without having to continuously double tap, you can tap to where you want to end up. A beam of light will appear to mark where the end point is, so you know exactly where you’l stop. You can also zoom out and back in with two fingers, the way you normally would on your iPhone.

When it comes to graphics, I loved how bright and crisp they were. As a first-person game, The Witness takes every last detail into account to give you an immersive experience. From vivid colors to changes in scenery depending on which direction you walk in. I went from a rugged trail out in the open to an area filled with bright orange Fall leaves coating the grass.

The sound effects are also what makes the game even more enjoyable, with a notification in the beginning letting you know it will sound better with headphones. Walking through the outdoors, you’ll hear everything from the leaves crunching underneath your shoes to the body of water calmly flowing in the background. It can definitely also act as one of those ambient noise machines because before you know it, you’ll walking around to enjoy the view instead of attempting to solve puzzles.

It makes sense that a game with such difficult puzzles would need nature to help balance out your sanity. When I started the puzzles in the beginning, I was on a roll, zooming through each one. But soon enough, you’ll start to realize they’re not easy at all. Even though the game does tell you the end point, the paths become more complex and what seems like unsolvable. Another aspect of this game I really appreciated was the fact that you don’t have to solve the puzzle right in front of you in order to move on to the next one. If you find one of them is too difficult, you can abandon it and come back to it later.

The game may seem intimidating after a while — I wasn’t able to play for more than an hour at a time — but it will keep you coming back. Sometimes, when you don’t overthink the puzzle too much, you’ll realize the answer is actually right in front of you. Other times, it’s best to simply move on and come back to it later. It’s not like there aren’t tons of places to see and discover within the game — don’t forget to give your brain a break. With over 500 puzzles to solve, it’s one of those games you’ll most likely always have available to play.

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