‘The Witness’ Game for iOS

The Witness is a Myst-like puzzle game — and you know I love those — that drops you on a colorful deserted island filled with hundreds of puzzles for you to solve as you explore, all of which are some variation of “draw a line through a maze,” which becomes a lot more varied and difficult than it sounds at first.


Much of the game’s intrigue and difficulty stems from the fact that nothing is ever explained to you, either verbally or through written word. You simply have to figure everything out for yourself, as explained by Andrew Webster for The Verge back in 2016:

Some of the puzzles are extremely challenging, others less so, but they all seem to build off of one another. The puzzles you’ll be solving toward the end of the game would make no sense when you’re just starting out, with rules that expand and become more nuanced the more you play. The game is able to teach you these complex rules without verbally explaining a thing; you learn by doing, without any explicit instructions.

To me, there’s no better or more poetic summary of the game than the one Jez Burrows wrote in his Dept. of Enthusiasm newsletter, so I won’t try to top it (bold emphasis mine though):

What I find most interesting about the game is how it teaches you to play it. All the puzzles involve drawing a line through a grid, but as you explore the island the game slowly introduces rules about how those lines can be drawn—rules about colour, or symmetry, or light and shadow. Then it starts combining them. Until you solve these more complex puzzles, some areas of the island remain inaccessible—a precipitous network of tree-top rope bridges, or the ruins of a monastery pierced by a red maple tree. You’re encouraged to keep exploring (and by extension to keep learning) until you realise, perhaps deep inside a mountain, that the game has taught you an entire language without uttering a single word.

The iOS version of The Witness is perhaps the best way to play the game, given its touchscreen nature. I especially recommend playing on iPad, curled up on a couch with headphones on.

Get The Witness for $10 on the iOS App Store.