Long before my autism was diagnosed, I refused to sit still – much to the annoyance of my parents. It was too loud, too bright, too crowded, there was always something about the world that didn’t agree with me. When we drove, the road never made sense, full of painted symbols passing out of my sight in a rhythmic fashion, teasing me with their incompleteness. So I kept squirming in my chair, changing my perspective constantly, sliding the windscreen wiper into the gaps to, in some small way, solve the world around me.
The Witness turns that familiar childhood memory into an 80 hour puzzle game. It has ambitions of being a lot more, espousing the virtues of epiphany, science and how we could save the world if only we just took the time to look at it differently. The game failed to stir any such thematic resonance within me, yet I couldn’t help but find something worthwhile from my time on the Island beyond mostly enjoyable puzzles. Rather than an enriching intellectual experience, The Witness is an escapist fantasy, in the same way that a Bayonetta is. The fantasy it offers me as someone struggling with sensory over-stimulation and environmental processing scratches a similar itch that Bayonetta does for someone struggling with not being Bayonetta.