The Witnes is a puzzle game released in 2016 by Thekla on PC, PS4 and XOne. There's no HUD, no tutorial, no living thing besides the flora and the player, who must solve puzzles on panels scatered around the island. Jonathan Blow presented us a masterpiece of game design, both artistically and technically.
The current "any%" speedrun of The Witnes is 14:55 by Amerald. Today I finally present a 11:05 optimization of that, to illustrate how fast this game can go.
- Find the fastest/shortest solutions, because a lot of puzzle have multiple ways to solve;
- Use the fastest/shortest route between panels based on the map. The game have distinct areas with grouped puzzle panels, there's a bunch of different combinations of area order, but one is faster;
- The puzzle panels can be activated/started from any side, so this has to be abused anywhere possible;
- There's some lag when moving on the y direction, probably due how the puzzle panel spawning was coded, so the movement in this TAS was carefully molded to minimize these lag instances;
- Prioritize reaching the panels from the front of the player, not from the sides, because there's an extra frame for turning to face the panel before starting the puzzle;
- This category is the fastest possible (without Credits Warp), so most of the game's content isn't even shown. Unfortunately, I didn't find any sequence breaking glitch to chop the route even further.
The start is very straightforward, on the first 2 rooms you simply learn the inputs on the panel and what exactly is solving the puzzles.
On the surface, the puzzle increase on diffulty, just to force a smooth learning curve. Solving the 4th puzzle enables 3 new areas of panels straight away, and you can play them in any order. I called each one A, B and C, based on the order of wires leading to them, from left to right, and each one shows a new puzzle mechanic (I won't spoil here). The final puzzle panel is only turned on when the player completely solves all these 3 areas, and it contains all the puzzle mechanics.
The final puzzle is very close to the last puzzle of area B, my only doubt was where I would start: A or C. It turns out that starting on A, then heading to C, then B, takes a total of 164 tiles, and starting on C, then A, then B, takes only 152 tiles, so that's the optimal route to go. Here I considered each tile to be 16x16 pixels, because the player always stops at 16 pixel multiples.
Once the route was defined, it was only a matter of moving as fast as possible between panels (you can hold the other button to run), solving each puzzle performing the fastest solution possible.
This game is very interesting to TAS, despite being just a puzzle game. Before anyone asks, yea I have the intention to TAS the 100% category, and I'd love to find some glitches to use here.
Shoutouts to eternaljwh for the tip on activating the panels from any side.
Suggested screenshot: 13399
Post April Fools' bits and tips
This demake was made by dustmop, it was released a few months after the original game. Unfortunately it's a demo, and due the lack of updates it might forever be a demo.
I made a map of the game, both with unsolved and solved panels, and a compilation with all the puzzle solutions I used.
Also I made a simple Lua script with some basic info to help the process, it uses the puzzle solution images as an overlay during the puzzle sections, it helped not wasting time thinking about the solutions more than once.
Samsara: (wakes up dazed and confused in a room with a bottle of piss)
feos: TIL BizHawk Windoes. Judging...
feos: Replacing with a replayable movie and rejecting because I'm upset that Bizhawk doesn't emulate Windows.
feos: It's a decent little game. It's a homebrew demo, but it's been about 5 years already and there's no full game, nor any indication that's still being developed or planned. So it's fine to TAS what we have.
Gameplay looks straightforward, but there's still some room for optimization in this game, given mechanics and routing. Feedback was mixed, and it was unclear if the people who said they liked it actually enjoyed the movie or the AFD joke (or something else), even after I explicitly asked for extra feedback.
Accepting to Vault.