The Witness has some impossible puzzles if you’re colourblind

3 min read

The Witness has some colourblind blocking puzzles

The Witness is an incredibly devious puzzle game, that we already know. It’s an open-world filled to the brim with increasingly complex puzzles that often test one particular skills. Whether it be perceptive reasoning from experience with other puzzles, spacial awareness or dexterity, you can be sure that The Witness is taxing all your senses to formulate a solution. Although some of its puzzles are literally unsolvable for a few.

Kotaku Editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo picked up on the fact that some of the puzzles in The Witness might be literally impossible for colourblind players to solve, which puts a damper on the entire experience. He tweeted out several images asking followers with all manner of colourblindness to see if they could tell the difference between certain colour clues (certain puzzles use them). The responses he received proved that puzzles dependent on colour differentiation were impossible for a few to discern – made worse by the lack of a colour-blind mode.

For reference, here’s what one particular puzzle would look like to someone with a particular form of colourblindness:

It seems creator Jonathon Blow and his team were definitely aware of this during development, and tried hard to implement a solution to help those affected. In the end though it simply wasn’t possible given the many different types of colourblindness, so instead Blow made all the puzzles that depended on it completely optional to the completion of the game.

“We definitely thought about colorblindness but ultimately there was not much we could do in terms of the individual puzzles. So the approach instead was to ensure the game did not require you to complete any particular area to get to the end. Colorblindness is only an issue with a fraction of the puzzles in the game, and our design focuses these puzzles in a small number of areas, so the workaround is just to skip those areas.”

As an intriguing design twist, Blow and his team even tried to create a puzzle that only colour-blind players would be able to solve, but eventually ran into the same issues of not managing to cater it for all kinds. Still, that would’ve been really neat.

“We actually tried to put a puzzle in the game that only colorblind people could solve!” he told me. “But we were not able to engineer it because colorblindness is a very individual thing.”

The areas where these affected puzzles are completely optional to the main game, but there are already helpful guides up to help those striving for 100% completion with only these standing in their way. It’s good that Blow and his team recognised how this could really destroy the experience for a small group of players, and the workaround is ultimately one that doesn’t affect the majority either. In short, you really shouldn’t have a reason not to play The Witness, and that’s great.

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Last Updated: January 28, 2016

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff's a bastard.

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