Parents' Guide to

The Witness

By Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Brilliant puzzle game is challenging but deeply rewarding.

Game PlayStation 4 , Windows 2016
The Witness Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 4+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 5+

Puzzles are hard, but gameplay is great.

This a super safe game for children. It is a great way to teach young children the general mechanics of a first person style gameplay, teaching them how to navigate through worlds using the duel control sticks. Since there are no enemies or other threats, it allows them to explore a vast open world without stress. It helps develop cognitive thinking, wonder, and general imagination. The puzzles themselves are difficult, even for me. My 5 year old has only been able to solve 2 of them by himself, out of almost 200 puzzles. He has spent a lot of time just exploring though, which is what he loves about the game.

This title has:

Easy to play/use
age 2+

Beautiful Puzzler

There is no content in this that would have a negative affect on a player of any age. The difficulty is entirely related to the ease of play which I will split into two parts - play and puzzle Ease of play - simple / low ability threshold to move around and interact with the game. Ease of puzzles - simple to nigh impossible. The puzzles are really where the suitability for age is rated high and realistically it could be rated as high as 18+ based on the complexity of the puzzles alone. This does not mean it is not suitable for players of any age though. The game has stunning visuals with lots of separate little areas with their own puzzle experiences. Best use of the game depending on age: 3 - 5, Good game for teaching controls to navigate in a 3D environment 6 - 8, Class discussion game, similar to what you might achieve with a picture book with few words. Also some simple puzzle patterns could be done. 9 - 12, Discussion of the environments and mixtures between the nature and build features, art, narratives, etc. Lots of educational options facilitated by an adult. Children in this age could look at solving some of the problems on their own or with groups recognising patterns. 12+ , Enjoy the full game experience and do your best to actually solve all the puzzles. One added benefit to this style of game is that you are almost certainly going to need to look up how to even know WHAT to do with some puzzles, let alone solve them. There are lots of opportunities to encourage researching online to solve problems - even if that resorts to reading an entire walkthrough. As a final note. I am 34 and spent a few hours on this when I first started playing it and there are still MANY puzzles that I have no clue on how to solve.

This title has:

Easy to play/use

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (4 ):

This inventive title is among the most subtle, sophisticated, and rewarding puzzle games yet made. It's also wildly challenging. Crafted by acclaimed indie game designer Jonathan Blow (the man behind Braid), the puzzles in The Witness are laid out in such a way that they teach players how to be both creative and analytical in their approach to problem-solving. Each new series of puzzles introduces new rules that would make little or no sense outside the context of the puzzles you've previously solved. It's a little like learning a new language, understanding the seemingly coded mysteries of grammar one rule at a time. Discovering these answers makes you feel smart, like you've accomplished something more than finding the answer to the puzzle in a video game.

As the game progresses, this feeling only grows. Solving puzzles, finding your way around the cleverly constructed island, and discovering recorded messages -- clips of films and recorded messages in which actors speak passages written by scholars and other famed thinkers -- combine to create a narrative that challenges players to examine and be critical of the way they learn and think, not only in the game but also the real world. Indeed, The Witness both celebrates and wants us to analyze human thought and rationality, our perspective and perception. There's no other game quite like it, and if you have the patience to work through all of its dozens of hours worth of conundrums, you'll likely experience a satisfaction unlike any you've ever felt playing a video game.

Game Details

  • Platforms: PlayStation 4 , Windows
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning : applying information, deduction, defining problems, hypothesis-testing, logic, problem solving, solving puzzles, Creativity : combining knowledge, Emotional Development : persevering
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online?: Available online
  • Publisher: Thekla, Inc.
  • Release date: January 26, 2016
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • ESRB rating: E for Alcohol Reference
  • Last updated: August 19, 2022

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