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Spoilers for various things that exist in the Witness, although not for what they’re doing there, because we have no clue


So last night I woke the kids up and finished the Witness!

No, no I didn’t. I couldn’t fall asleep and I’m so very, very tired. I haven’t gotten that little sleep in so very, very long.


I played some! I went to the forest and the quarry, like you said. The real forest this time. And the shadows on the grid is a cool mechanic, and totally underscores what we were just saying, that we’re suspended outside of time or however you put it. Because that obviously only works if the sun is in the right place, meaning it will only work at the right time of day, when the sky is clear…but there’s only one time of day, ever, and the sky is always clear, so it works whenever we happen to go by there. Which is convenient, but not the way things work in the real world, or even in a realistic fake world.

And on the one hand: so we’re in a game, duh. I bet the shadows don’t shift in Super Mario Brothers, either. (Maybe they do in the newer ones! I don’t know.)

But then, it’s NOT just a self-contained puzzle game world, because it includes BBC video clips, and quotes from people outside the game world. So we’re in a game, or at least a fake world full of puzzles, but we’re meant to KNOW we’re in a game. Which is why it’s interesting.

As you well know, having almost finished it even if you didn’t actually finish it last night.


Well, the shadows don’t shift in those games because time doesn’t matter, or, at least a time based metaphor doesn’t matter.

But then….another way to read this is not that the island place is “outside of time,” or a place where time stops, per se (any more than any other game world. I mean, time moves….oddly….even in realistic games. That fight will JUST HAPPEN to start right when Lara shows up….that dragon will wait to appear until JUST then….even if we go and cut down eight rabbits and gather three moldy flags…or not….but I digress). It could be time DOES pass here, just like it passes in Lara’s world, or Evelyn’s. But, as you say, the shadows work in the forest (good mechanic, I agree). So does that mean they ALWAYS do, or are we here at the exact “right” time? Witnessing something requires being in BOTH the right place and the right time. Maybe our anachronistic friends came by when the shadows were off, literally or metaphorically, in their world, this one, or their own heads.

Well, I was going to bring up something similar like us knowing it’s a game, but I’m so tired I’m stumbling over myself, so I’ll throw this out there with the idea that we’ll digest and talk on it after the weekend.

As you mention “in a game” and “know we’re in a game,” time to talk about “game” and all that.

Now, when this came out, it did NOT get hit with the “walking simulator” insult like Rapture did. Of COURSE it’s a game! Puzzles! See?

But what had me thinking this weekend was how WE’RE approaching it. We’ve come up with reams of bloggage about it already. That said, USUALLY when we get all bloggy we’re talking about themes and meaning from narrative. We analyze traditional narrative, as applied to games. Usually.

This game (we’ll go with that) has no traditional narrative at all. That I’ve seen. There’s no characters, no sense of conflict past “These are puzzles so I will do them,” no sense of threat, no nothing. And yet, here we are blogging like hell about it anyway.

So…instead of discussing “Is it a game?” cuz that’s silly, what IS this game? We talk about how games are like interactive books/movies/whatever….is this one more like a piece of interactive visual art? An modernist installation to end all modernist installations?

I don’t know as much as you think I know.



It’s true, I suppose, that we could imagine that this was a real world but that we’re only getting the highlights of our time there, or something.

The other times when I wandered by here and couldn’t figure out how these shadowed squares worked…maybe it was because they DIDN’T work yet, not because I just hadn’t figured it out! (Yeah, let’s go with that. All the stuff I haven’t done yet is because it’s not even possible to do! Maybe this is also the case with your impossible puzzle!)

I guess it is kind of like a modern art installation, isn’t it? Especially if you’re nearly done and still don’t know exactly what’s going on. It’s possible that there is no exact thing that’s going on, that it’s all weirdness and possibility open to interpretation…life and art are what you make of them, etc.

Oh, and I also got into the quarry (trefoil thing!), and saw all those statues of guys in robes, and doves. I would say “what is with the guys in the robes and the doves?!” but I’m beginning to wonder if that kind of question is even worth asking.

Maybe nothing is with them. Maybe they just are how they are.


I shouldn’t have given you that out with the timing, should I have?

But yeah….I’m sure the impossible puzzle will be nothing any minute now…..

I’m not sure of anything….there’s a big difference between “nearly done” and “done.” And, as I said, I’m at what I very much believe is the end game but, like every other game I’ve played, that doesn’t mean I’ve DONE everything. I KNOW I still have four honeycombs to find. So I could find out more when I’m done, but maybe you have to be DONE to get it, or it can’t be got. Who knows?

Ah! The trefoil mechanic! You are FLYING! Almost as if you’re missing something.

The quarry was also interesting as it was a place that seemed like it was not done with whatever it was doing. It seemed still….active? Like, here was a place where someone was doing something and got interrupted….tuned to stone? Taken to the rapture? What? Lots of other places looked like they had fallen into disrepair, or had just been left there, but this one looked as if stone was being cut, stuff was being DONE and then poof, it wasn’t. At least I read it that way.


Oh, I’m missing everything. I’m just hopping around. “Check out the bird sounds! Aw, these are driving me bonkers. What else you got? Hey, check out the shadows! Ooh, this one looks hard, let’s go check out the quarry!”

Sorry man, I magpie. It’s how I do. I’ll try to stick with the quarry and/or the forest (I have a suspicion that you have to finish them both to get both sides to open on the puzzle that’s up on top of the quarry under the…bom bom bom…YELLOW BOX…but don’t tell me if that’s wrong) until I accomplish something, but I promise nothing.

I agree, the quarry, especially with the ramp and the lift that still go up and down, has an unusually functional feeling. People could totally have been quarrying stone there right up until they turned to stone themselves. Or whatever. Although the stuff outside looked a little more worn…some fallen rock and branches, etc.

Although that platform in the colorful swamp also still turns, and it seems equally likely to predate the screens and cords, assuming anything predates anything in any meaningful way.


The mighty irony is that the more you hop around the LESS likely you are to miss what you’re missing…..

I mean, Yeah, the yellow box……

The thing you’re missing you don’t even know you’re missing it……



In the quarry, though wasn’t there a place, in the middle there, where the rocks were all half done? It was more than “this stuff works,” it was like “they were halfway through getting this carving out of the bedrock then stopped.” Nothing else in the game, at least as I recall, seemed to be a work in progress. Maybe it was something that still worked, but here, stuff just stopped mid shift almost.

Lots of stuff “works.” But everything else seems put together. Finished. The quarry does not.


So…I’m working really hard to miss something here, is what you’re saying? I shouldn’t even be ABLE to miss this thing I’m missing, what with all the jumping around?

Well, what can I say. I’m good at ignoring things that aren’t the very extremely specific thing I’m looking at. Narrowly focused attention! It’s good for some things! Like cataloging!

Ah, I see what you’re saying about the quarry being unfinished, as opposed to simply working. It’s true, it does look as if they could have been right in the middle of something, where other locations don’t show any sign of ‘recent’ (who knows what that means) human activity.

Hm. The greenhouse kind of suggests that, in that greenhouses need regular tending or else they turn into overgrown jungles, but it’s perhaps less explicit than the quarry.


When you don’t miss it, you’ll know.


You are a librarian to your very core.

The greenhouse was the other one that came to mind. Telling they are the two most modern ones.


Ha! That’s a good T shirt. I look forward to suddenly not missing the thing I’ve not spotted so far.

The greenhouse and the quarry do seem sort of the most modern…ALTHOUGH, somewhat less so, the hedge maze would theoretically also require regular tending to keep it so tidy, and hedge mazes are not necessarily modern.

But nothing is overgrown at all…making me think either time is not passing (or everything in the world is fake), or else someone else has been here a lot more recently than it seems. Or is STILL ON THE ISLAND, but hiding from us!!! Perhaps a groundskeeper is stealthily creeping around behind us, trimming the hedges and mowing the lawns (with an old-fashioned push mower so as not to disturb the quiet), to keep everything nice and tidy.

It’s like a resort!

The staff, who probably live in some impoverished backwater village underground or something, remains invisible, while the guests toddle around amusing themselves with the manufactured mysteries of the place and imagining they’re getting “such a wonderful experience of the real island!” but in fact have no idea.

Damn it, this is all a luxury vacation spot, isn’t it?


Hmm. Good point about stuff not really growing….though….remind yourself of hedge maze the closer you get to the end.

It does seem a bit like a resort. Those couches with cushions? I’d totally chill there, read a book, look out at the pretty.

I mean, if it wasn’t surrounded by petrified, terrified dudes.


Terrified petrified dudes harsh my mellow. Be assured I will be mentioning this in my Yelp review.

“Scenery was beautiful and staff very discreet, but was not fond of art selection: will not stay again until statuary is adjusted to reflect a more soothing mood than the current ‘anguished horror’ motif. Entirely too suggestive of the eternally complaining peasantry I came here to avoid.”


That would probably only knock it down half a star.

Those were very nice pillows.