Blow opened the demo by stating that his latest project was inspired by puzzle-driven PC adventure games. I admitted to Blow that I lacked experience with the point-and-click genre, and that I found their obtuse design decisions daunting when trying to approach them in the modern era. He assured that The Witness abandoned the trial-and-error gameplay of its inspiration, instead focusing on meaningful puzzles that educate the player and bring context to the game's world.
The game lacks a tutorial, and instantly drops players into its island setting with no preamble. The Witness's puzzles are so intrinsically linked to its gameplay, however, that players need no instruction. Players learn lessons and patterns by completing early line-tracing puzzles, and these mechanics then apply to later challenges that expand on previously introduced concepts.
In contrast, The Witness's puzzles rely on player knowledge and observation. "The key to these puzzles is in the player's head," Blow said.
Responding to my concerns regarding the potential to become stumped by a tricky puzzle with no hope for progression, Blow jumped to a later area of the game in which players can choose between completing one of two puzzle paths located within a derelict castle. One path winds through a hedge maze, and requires players to complete linked line-drawing puzzles in a specific order. The other half of the area features puzzles driven by pressure plates and player positioning. Blow noted that players only need to complete one of the two paths in order to progress and can freely travel between them, giving ample opportunity to pick the progression path that best suits their acquired skillset.
The Witness is aiming for a release by the end of this year for the PlayStation 4 and PC platforms. An iOS version is also in the works, and while a rudimentary version is up and running on the iPad, a mobile port will not meet the game's console and PC launch.