First things first, a confession: I have not finished The Witness. I don't know if I'm even an eighth of the way through. Heck: I don't know if I'm ever going to finish it, the way things are going. (I might tear out all my hair first, and I don't really have that much hair to spare, to be honest.)
The Witness was put out in 2016 by a development team headed by Jonathan Blow, creator of the beloved indie platformer/puzzler Braid. I was planning to skip The Witness. Something about the Cult of Jonathan Blow doesn't appeal to me: there's a dude centricity to it that feels alien and like I'm not welcome. It's a mostly baseless feeling, though perhaps fueled a little by Indie Game: The Movie, which was such a boy's club that I almost shrugged myself out of existence while watching it.
But a couple of friends I trust recommended it to me. Maybe I have retroactively imagined it, but didn't they had a certain desperate gleam in their eye? Wasn't their bag brimming over with graph paper, scrawled with lines and notes? Didn't I ask, "Isn't it just a bunch of puzzles?" And didn't they respond, "OH, YES, IT ABSOLUTELY IS."
And goddamn if I've suddenly found myself in the same boat. Goddamn if it's not me buying up graph paper like it's going out of style and thinking about puzzles literally all the time. Even if I never finish it, I feel confident in saying that The Witness is infuriating, beautiful, surprising, stupid, and genuinely smart. In short: it's excellent.