Developer: Thekla Inc.
Platform: PS4, PC
Nominations: Best Independent Game
It’s a real shame that not many people knew about The Witness or respected what it set out to do. While a lot of games feel as though they were designed to be interactive movies, The Witness feels like an interactive painting, yes even more so than Braid if you can believe it. Sure, on the outset, one could walk by it, observe the pretty picture and walk away, but there’s so much more to the experience if you’re willing to engage with it and peel back the many layers. There’s so much to unpack in this game, whether it be all of the hidden puzzles scattered throughout the island, or what the game has to say about the difficulties and joys of the human ability to learn.
I’ll be first to admit that the fight for this award will be tough. People usually flock to indie games for either their ability to recapture the feel of games that have fallen out of fashion, their ability to hone in and refine one particular style of gameplay, or their ability to focus on a narrative in a more intimate setting. All of those features are represented in the nominees with Hyper Light Drifter, Inside and Firewatch, respectively. But I’d argue that what makes an indie game great is its ability to deliver something you can’t get in the triple a scene. And considering The Witness is truly a one of a kind experience, I’d say that qualifies it as most deserving of Best Independent Game. – Alex Suffolk