Braid is still a stand-out indie success story – the game took a complex concept, married it to an emotionally compelling narrative and fit it all in a platformer environment in a way that had never been seen before. After almost a seven year wait, Braid’s creator, Jonathon Blow, has finally released his next masterpiece, The Witness, onto the world and after only a week the game has already almost outsold its predecessor and garnered some of the strongest critical praise so far this year.
At its core, The Witness is a puzzle game loosely inspired by the classic Myst. The player traverses a beautifully stylized open world island, seeking out panels that contain mazes. These mazes operate on a delicate and constantly changing set of rules, all of which are essentially never explained directly to the player. The challenge, and reward, of the game comes from the process of attempting to unpack how to deal with the constantly shifting expectations of the environment. At its core, The Witness is not a game that will make you feel intelligent for progressing – it is a game that assumes your intelligence and gives you the opportunity to utilize that.
After a lengthy development period like The Witness experienced, it can be hard to expect what the reception will be from the community – but so far it has been incredibly positive. As of today the game has sold over 100,000 copies across the two platforms it is available on, PC and PS4, and rumors abound about the possibility of the game emerging on the Xbox One eventually (Braid, after all, debuted on the Xbox 360).
While the game still has some distance to travel in order to meet all of its margins and make a profit, Jonathon Blow was confident about future sales and the ability for the game to fund future projects, stating “we should break even and make a comfortable safety margin on top of that, which will allow us to make more nice games in the future. Unless some kind of world economic disaster happens.”