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The Witness presents a world that is full of purposeful design and order, embedded with its own sense of meaning, begging to be uncovered. More than that, it acknowledges that there is something beautiful about this truth and its discovery. The puzzles aren’t presented on a blank canvas; they occupy a colorful and majestic island full of intrigue and mystery. Even the game’s name alludes to this sense of discovery. We aren’t creating our own meaning. We are here to learn about something already present.
Yet, at the same time, The Witness seems hesitant to commit to the idea of a capital “T” truth. The only clues along these lines are the many audio logs scattered throughout the map, which play voice recordings quoting individuals who have all contributed competing philosophies meant to offer an interpretive lens through which to view the world. These recordings range from behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner to German humanist philosopher Nicholas of Cusa to early church father Augustine of Hippo—and almost every type of thinker in between. The final log even presents a fairly explicit caution against claims of absolutism. The Witness isn’t promoting some type of postmodernist relativism, but I couldn’t help experience some degree of disconnect when trying to discern the end goal. How can a world so meticulously cultivated down to the most minute details, including the placement of bolts on structures, be advocating such a breadth of conflicting propositions of truth?
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