By: Thekla, inc. (Jonathan Blow)
Update: I started playing on my iPhone and it is less of an issue. Read my thoughts about that here.
I’d been looking forward to playing Jonathan Blow’s The Witness on my iPad ever since it was released on PC and announced it would be coming to iOS eventually. I heard great things about it and loved the look of it, with its gorgeous island that houses all the puzzles. I’m also a big puzzle fan. So when it released today, I deleted some other apps from both devices to make room for it and excitedly downloaded.
I booted it up on my iPad and it started off fine. Some basic line-drawing maze puzzles that start off easy but get progressively more interesting. Each puzzle seems to be 2D, though you walk between them in a first-person 3D environment. The controls are pretty basic, scrapping a joystick for tap-to-move. Normally, I like these controls. But there haven’t been too many first-person 3D games on iOS to try it, and I do get motion sickness from first person 3D games sometimes. I tried seeing the movie Hardcore Henry and finally walked out in the middle after complaining of nausea to my friend for about an hour. It took me the rest of the day for my stomach to settle and feel normal again. So I might be an extreme case. But if you suffer from motion sickness, you may want to watch my videos before purchasing the game.
I didn’t have any problems with The Room series or the recent Morphite, so I wasn’t really expecting any issues here. Part of the problem seems to be the way you interact with the puzzles. You have to tap and hold the starting position and then drag your finger to draw a line. I keep forgetting to hold and end up moving the camera instead, making my motion sickness worse than it already is. It’s also awkward pinching to zoom in and out instead of just being able to walk backwards. And then I get sick just walking around between puzzles, trying to move the camera to see my surroundings. I don’t really know what the answer is, but I hope something can be done so this isn’t my last experience with The Witness. But right now I feel deathly ill and am not eager to revisit the game.
It’s a real shame, as I recently played the fantastic Lynk., which is a line-drawing puzzler that feels perfect on an iPhone. From my brief time with The Witness, I can see that Lynk. borrowed some some ideas from this game. I would love to play through these puzzles in a comfortable manner, but this is not it. There’s just too much walking around between puzzles, and the more I walk, the sicker I become. I’m thoroughly disappointed, but thought I should at least warn others who may suffer from motion sickness. If you don’t, it seems like a really interesting puzzler and you should probably play it so I can live vicariously through you.