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The Witness is a 2016 puzzle video game developed and published by Thekla, Inc. Inspired by Myst, the game involves the exploration of an open world island filled with natural and man-made structures. The player progresses by solving puzzles, which are based on interactions with grids presented on panels around the island or paths hidden within the environment. The game provides no direct instructions for how these puzzles are to be solved, requiring the player to identify the meaning of symbols in the puzzles. A central design element to the game was how these puzzles are presented so that the player can achieve a moment of inspiration through trial and error and gain that comprehension themselves.
Announced in 2009, The Witness had a lengthy development period. Jonathan Blow, the game's lead designer, started work on the title in 2008, shortly after releasing Braid. The financial success of Braid allowed him to hire a larger production team without ceding control over the final product. To create the game's visual language, the team developed their own game engine and retained artists, architects, and landscape architects to design the structures on the island. This required a protracted development process, and the game's release was delayed from 2013 to 2016. Blow desired to create a game around non-verbal communication, wanting players to learn from observation and to come to epiphanies in finding solutions and leading to a greater sense of involvement and accomplishment with each success. The game includes around 650 puzzles, though the player is not required to solve them all to finish the game.
The Witness was released for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4 in January 2016, with later versions released for the Xbox One, Nvidia Shield, macOS, and iOS. Original plans for release on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were abandoned as the game engine became more demanding, and the team ultimately opted for an initial release on Windows and the PlayStation 4, with support for other platforms following. The Witness received generally favorable reviews from critics, who praised the difficult but surmountable puzzles and the game's art and setting. Within a week of release, the game had sold over 100,000 copies, which was about as many copies as Braid had done within a year of its release, nearly recouping all of the development costs for the game.
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The Witness 2016 System Requirements
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP / 7
- Processor: 1.8 GHz
- RAM: 4 GB
- Video Card: Intel HD 4000
- Hard disk space: 4 GB