A video game that’s smarter than you

Who said gaming has to be mindless?

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Most video games are mind-numbing exercises in repetition. It’s rare that one approaches anything that could be called an intellectual experience.

But that’s exactly what developer Jonathan Blow has set his sights on with The Witness. The game takes players to a remote, deserted island littered with ruins and other remnants left behind by its previous occupants. But rather than slay monsters or shoot aliens, the player progresses by completing an escalating series of mazes that are scattered throughout the island on tablet-like displays. And that’s it.

What makes this noteworthy, and even exciting, is the endless variation in the mazes. Some feature invisible paths or warped perspectives, while others require the player to decipher symbols, or examine the surrounding area for clues. There are dozens of variations, which twist and collide in ever-more interesting (and frustrating) ways, to comprise the game’s 650 puzzles. The Witness is a testament to the power of creativity: it starts with the simplest of tasks (draw a line) and then mines it for endless inspiration.

This week’s Frandoms are by Sam Rudykoff and Anthea Mislan, CW and AD (respectively) at Fuse Marketing Group.

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