Home Gaming The Witness has some impossible puzzles if you’re colourblind

The Witness has some impossible puzzles if you’re colourblind

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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.

Last Updated: January 28, 2016

No Comments

  1. “instead Blow made all the puzzles that depended on it completely optimal to the completion of the game.”

    That’s rather cruel of him. Should’ve made it optional. 😉


  2. Pieter Kruger

    January 28, 2016 at 10:16

    Bring out the torches and pitchforks…..


    • miaau

      January 28, 2016 at 10:42

      according to http://www.colourblindawareness.org/ 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 woman are colour blind to some degree.

      So, some Pitchforks, certainly, but not sure if there is enough demand for developers to change what they are doing.


  3. miaau

    January 28, 2016 at 10:38

    It is a real problem in games for me. Certain game play elements in some games are insanely difficcult, such as find the secret door in the wall. My wife can spot it, but even when she point it out, I still found it hard. It is not just colours I have noticed, but contrast as well that differs.

    Endless Legend, for example, has Colour blind help, but it is next to useless. Civ 5 and IV helps a lot, by putting names under colours when you tick Colour Blind Help, so you at least know who is who, in Endless Legend I sometimes have not a clue, cause 3 blue and 2 red players are against me helps nothing


    • oVg

      January 29, 2016 at 08:49

      I had a real problem with this Indie game called Galaxy Switch. Its like F Zero but you have to drive into the right coloured gate on a highway. Im fine with red green blue. but when yellow is placed next to the greens I just cant distinguish the two. Good game but unplayable. 🙁


  4. Original Heretic

    January 28, 2016 at 11:28

    To be prejudiced against someone based on skin colour is racism. What do you call it when you prejudiced based on not being able to see colour?


    • oVg

      January 28, 2016 at 12:03

      Shadist 😛


  5. oVg

    January 28, 2016 at 11:58

    As a colour blind person I was happy with The Witcher 3 swapping out the red with a blue and Fallout 4s colour customisation. Even COD has a colour blind option.

    1 in 12 men are colour blind, its a recessive gene passed down from the mother. Its very common to have more blue rods than red rods.

    Cant be that hard to eliminate red and swap it with blue.

    And before you all think I see grass as blue its actually Light that we are colour blind to, first hand light like cathodes. I am fine with pigments (paint) second hand light.


    • miaau

      January 28, 2016 at 12:27

      you too? I appreciated the Witcher 3 thing, it was added in first patch for me. I normally just live with it.

      Mine is quite broad ranging though.


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