One of the most frustrating endings I’ve ever witnessed belongs to the excellent film A Separation, by Asghar Farhadi. The film’s about a couple’s pending divorce, their struggles navigating through adjusted lives and multiple court appointments, and it ends with their young daughter choosing which parent she wants to stay with. I can’t say any more, but I can say that the frustration I felt was topped two years ago when The Witness was released, which took hours and hours (and hours) from many of us, giving us the job of deciphering mundane-looking line puzzles.
There’s absolutely no doubt about the difficulties of making games like this, which put you in a lonely world with little sign of life to accompany you. They can produce a variety of reactions from us, most commonly allowing our minds to settle on the idea that all this aimless wandering will be worth it. Sometimes, however, endlessly travelling towards the scary unknown is the entire thrill, the way a good book ties its numerous characters and complex plot into a neat package only at the very end.
I’ve revisited The Witness a bunch in these last two years, and it’s already popped up in multiple conversations, signalling just how influential it’s already become in the gaming sphere. There’s not a soul in sight as you walk across the colourful island completing the task you haven’t really been designated to carry out. Instead, there are just mere illusions of another life, such as the statues demonstrating different periods of western civilisation.
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