The Witness developer Jonathan Blow has laid bare his aim to make a classic adventure game free of the negative aspects of the genre seen across the years. In a new interview, the Braid creator has shed light on his motivations and the game’s puzzle aspect.
Speaking with Eurogamer, Blow explained the issues driving The Witness, while showcasing some of the game’s puzzles at play. Each conundrum stems from a series of around 800-900 panels that you might have seen before, but eventually they will break out of this mechanic and enter the wider environment.
An example given by the site is that players may have to physically line up the solution by looking at the problem from a specific angle – a bit like the Riddler symbols in Batman: Arkham Asylum – and so on. It’s at this point the game’s island and its various themed areas become a large part of the puzzle.
“I’m taking the structure of a classical adventure game, but getting rid of all the things that are terrible about adventure games,” said Blow, who then added, “I think we can make games interesting in more ways than just challenge. We can make them interesting through what happens.”
He added of the game’s puzzle and reward mechanic, “There are a lot of psychological studies that say explicit rewards demotivate you from the rest of the game. If you have a game that’s about getting loot, and you’re fighting monsters to get loot, you end up not necessarily being interested in fighting monsters for its own sake, you just want loot.
“As a game designer, I’m very careful about that. With this game I’m trying to do a lot of things about communication, and about having these moments of epiphany, understanding the world you’re in.”
In essence there is no loot awarded for solving puzzles, but there will be unspoken “non-verbal communication” that gives players feedback and enlightenment when they overcome problems. It’s all sounding very intriguing, and looks set to be a major indie win for PS4.
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