The Witness’s Famous Voices And Regular Prices

Jonathan Blow’s time-twisting platformer Braid was a powerful force in the latest resurgence of indie games, helping propel them into the relative mainstream. Since 2008, J. Blo and his studio have been working on The Witness [official site], and the colourful puzzler will finally arrive on January 26th. Consider this me reminding you of that, while also relaying word that it’ll cost £30 and its voice cast includes some folks that might make you say “Hey! I liked that voice they did! e.g. Ellie from The Last of Us off that there PlayStation, and Hermes out Futurama.” You talk funny.

The game’s site is overloaded right now so here, I’ll just point you to a PlayStation Blog post about the voice-havers. Some of those I know are pleasant voices.

As for the price, £29.99/$39.99/€36.99 is confident for a game not released by a major publisher and with no murder (well, as far as I know). That’s quite nice. I’d be very interested to see the market develop to support ‘full-price’ games from smaller studios, in all the lavish detail that bigger budgets and longer development timescales can enable. Comparing current screenshots and videos against our preview from 2011, The Witness’s puzzle island is still clearly the same place but gosh, it’s so refined.

It’s a whole lot bigger and all. Back in September, J. Blo said:

“When we started making this game, I figured it would have between 8 and 12 hours of playtime. As it happens, the game we’ve finally built is around 10 times as big as that: if you are a completionist who wants to wring every last drop out of the game, you might expect to play for 80 hours, or possibly 100. For people who don’t want to go quite that far, the game’s still got plenty for you.”

The Witness will arrive for Windows on January 26th. It’s on Steam and has a DRM-free option on the Humble Store. Here’s how it looked a few months ago:

36 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Really looking forward to this one. The only puzzle shown as far as I know is the line drawing stuff. I think the trailer implies moving through a maze somehow related to the stuff you drew, but I hope there are other mechanics as well for variety.

    • ChrisGWaine says:

      I would be disappointed if the line drawing panels aren’t essentially the consistent way the player communicates to the game. There shouldn’t be any need for anything else.

    • brat-sampson says:

      That linked 2011 article contains a few spoilery examples of how the panels linked back to the island and vice versa. Avoid if you want to go in totally blind. Some of the ideas might have changed anyway over the last 4-5 years but other things align with more recent footage, so who knows.

    • Vandelay says:

      Same. The recent trailer I saw (assume it is the same as the one above,) looked wonderful, but there was a lot of fairly uninteresting puzzle mechanics being shown. It almost looked like the Talos Principle if you only had the annoying block puzzles.

      I really hope there will be more to it than those line puzzles. The fact that it is 80+ hours to fully complete, I am sure there must be other things to do.

      • 9of9 says:

        Going by Blow’s comments, it seems that the ‘line puzzles’ are a standardised way of interacting with the environment. Which is to say that it’s not a case of “Here is a stand-alone line puzzle for you to solve to open this door” but more about understanding how the interactions with the panel affect the world. E.g. in one of the shots in this trailer you can see the player on a boat with a panel that shows a map of the island and the path of the boat is itself displayed as a ‘line puzzle’.

    • Donjo says:

      I think it’s pretty much the line puzzle but with a huge amount of variation. Sudoku is a good modern example of nearly inexhaustive iterations on a very simple premise that is consistently engaging. I think that’s the kind of puzzle they’re going for. I also think that the puzzle system will have a lot to say about logic in general, knowing who’s made it.

    • Urthman says:

      I don’t think the “line puzzles” are stand-alone puzzles. I think they are an interface for expressing something you’ve figured out about the world. It’s like a text parser where you have to type “I’ve noticed there are three green cats but only one red one” to open a door.

  2. Yachmenev says:

    Good price for a promising and interesting game. It’s a good thing that some developers work against the devaluation of games that’s gone to far.

    • Hobbes says:

      Is this rhetorical?

      Maybe if games didn’t devalue -themselves- and publishers didn’t use the term “price elasticity” as an excuse to segment games into ever smaller chunks whilst selling the rest of the content in parcels of DLC thereby making the cost of the content complete package exponentially more expensive I’d actually consider this a vaguely serious comment.

      Right now the fact that games hit sales and therefore drop to a value which with DLC priced in makes them tolerable to anyone without insane sums of money is the only thing keeping the hobby generally sustainable. You want to see an indiepocalypse? Remove all the sales, entirely, for two months. Then stand back. There’s not the sheer money washing about for people to throw at the hobby for people playing games to afford to take punts on games they’re not entirely sure about, so if the price as a whole goes up, consumers become very risk averse, which is bad for the entire ecosphere.

      • Awesomeclaw says:

        Big game releases (‘AAA’ or whatever) have cost around £30-$40 for the last 3 decades. The fact that new games aren’t at least £80 is kind of a surprise.

        • crazyd says:

          What currency are you using for the $ there? I can say in America, just about all AAA games these days launch at $60. There’s the occasional $50 holdout, but $40 MSRP for a brand new AAA game is just about completely unheard of.

        • Hobbes says:

          Yes, and that’s just for the base game, you usually end up doubling or tripling that fee once all the DLC is priced in. So in reality we’re actually where you imagine we are, if you want the “complete” version of a game. Sometimes we’re -way- above that figure, depending on how much post release support a game gets.

          Price elasticity has generally meant only one thing – more expensive games, and less complete initial releases.

  3. Drew says:

    It looks a bit like Myst if Pixar made it.
    I can be onboard with that! As long as it’s not too simplistic (walk here, do line puzzle, walk to next place, do line puzzle…) but I’ve got to imagine Jonathan Blow would do something a bit more involved.

  4. Plank says:

    That’s a bit steep for an indie game isn’t it? Is vr compatible or something?

    • Nathan_G says:

      Why do you think it’s ‘steep for an indie game’? It seems to be a huge, polished experience, what does being ‘indie’ have to do with anything?

  5. Premium User Badge

    johannsebastianbach says:

    No cross-platform? That’s really disappointing – especially since J. Blow acts as an trendsetter in indie development.
    Anyone knows anything about Mac/Linux plans? Couldn’t find anything on their site.

    • Urthman says:

      It’s so much easier to work the line puzzles with a keyboard and mouse than with a controller that it wouldn’t be fair to have PC and PS4 gamers playing on the same server.

  6. HeavyStorm says:

    I believe that the price comes out of the fact that it took Blow 6 years to get this done, and other production values such as voice over. So the price might be justified, even more so if the game actually holds the player for 80 hours.

    • Vandelay says:

      Although Alice is talking about this being in line with big budget releases, it is still on the cheaper side. £40-50 is becoming standard, particularly on consoles. If £30 is the PS4 price, then it is a good £20 cheaper than the RRP on big budget games on the console.

      • Hobbes says:

        It is on consoles, but PC has a much wider spread of price points, unless this is as good as the Talos principle, it’s not going to sell like the Talos principle.

  7. Premium User Badge

    TightByte says:

    I’m really looking forward to this. I still think Braid was amazing, deceptively so for looking like a regular platformer for the first little while

  8. Sam says:

    The Talos Principle – a puzzle game with no murdering made by a small team – is also priced at £30.

    • alms says:

      +1. And Croteam didn’t have the puzzle cred of J.Blo’s (hat off to you Alice).

  9. anHorse says:

    Bet you money that it actually has 12 hours of playtime

    • faircall says:

      Just to clarify, you think most people will be beating this game in 12 hours?

  10. Scratches Beard With Pipe Stem says:

    40 bucks? I thought it was going to be free-to-play!

    (Ahem, sorry.)

  11. baozi says:

    Pretty.

    Also, Jonathan Blow seems to like cellos quite a bit

    • Urthman says:

      He’s said this game doesn’t have a regular music soundtrack. The only sounds you hear are things actually in the game world (although he implied that might include music if you find a record player or something like that).

      • baozi says:

        Ah, okay. I was just thinking about the cello tracks in Braid and noticed that the trailer linked above also featured cello-heavy music.

  12. Person of Interest says:

    How sweet of you to remember, Alice! Bunty and Jonny B. will be so pleased.

  13. Urthman says:

    I just wanted to point out that the Steam Discussion groups for The Witness have a subforum titled “Dumb Internet Comments” to which various threads have been appropriately moved, and that I wholeheartedly endorse this move and urge every game developer to do likewise.

  14. rexx.sabotage says:

    if no one exclaims, “My Manwich!”

    they need to scrap the whole thing and start over.

  15. Josh W says:

    I’m very much looking forwards to what this might be! That probably should balance out into “cautiously optimistic”, but it doesn’t. Instead, I’m totally excited about the potential for it to be the kind of puzzle game I’m looking forwards to, and the other side of the scale doesn’t really register at this point.

    Could be so cool!