The Looker is a free video game created by Subcreation Studio. The game is a parody of the 2016 game The Witness by Jonathan Blow.
Style of Play:
- Play on demand (i.e. purchase and play any time)
- Puzzle video game
Who is it For?
- Puzzle lovers
- Digital aesthetes
- Best for players with at least some experience
- Fans of video games
- Especially fans of The Witness
Required Equipment: computer with internet connection
Recommended Team Size: 1-2
Play Time: 1-2 hours
Price: free on Steam
Booking: purchase and play at your leisure
We explored a 360-degree cryptic garden world without direction as to our goal. We discovered puzzles along the way that generally (though not always) taught us how to interact with them.
This video game introduces a puzzle and then iterates on that same puzzle throughout the entire game. Players use keys on their laptop to move the character (first person – you never see an avatar).
Players who are familiar with The Witness will recognize the game mechanics.
The Looker’s condescending humor, casual vulgarity and willingness to not take itself too seriously really resonated with me. I found it a game of extremes across the spectrum of satisfaction and frustration, with my top two reactions being “wow, that was cool” and “OMG, are you serious?” A parody of Jonathan Blow’s 2016 game The Witness, The Looker employed several Witness-esque game mechanisms, specifically, the introduction of an initial puzzle and then subsequent iterations on that same puzzle throughout the experience. The game featured neither a plot nor a backstory, allowing The Looker’s beautiful setting to simply exist for the player to explore and enjoy without the need to justify its occasional oddities and quirks. The ending of this game was the real standout: I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t…that.
The Looker promised puzzles that would frustrate and annoy, and indeed there were two interactions where a lack of feedback stalled gameplay because I didn’t realize I was able to proceed to the next stage. As with The Witness, there are no hints in this game (no helpful ones, anyway.) On the other side of the coin, many of The Looker’s puzzles iterated in a compelling and unique way as the game went on and it was a satisfying challenge figuring out how to interact with them.
The Looker offers an hour or more of hilarious puzzling at no charge for those who don’t mind things getting a bit crass. If that intrigues you, give this one a shot.
Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction
The Looker is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a parody of The Witness, but you don’t have to have played that game to enjoy what’s going on in The Looker. I went into The Looker blind (not sorry) and found it intriguing, challenging at times, and humorous throughout. The most difficulty I had with the game was discovering how to interact with the world; the controls were fairly standard for a keyboard and mouse setup, but figuring out how to manipulate the environment took longer than it probably needed to. The Looker did a great job with progressive difficulty. Early puzzles laid the groundwork for what you could do, and as the game played out you discovered what was possible to do within (and slightly beyond) those constraints. You can’t beat the price point and what you get for it.
Sarah Mendez’s Reaction
As a fan of The Witness who enjoyed its puzzles more than its metaphysics, I found The Looker to be an entertaining satire that twisted the game’s key features with silly, aha punchlines and outside-the-box thinking. If you’ve played The Witness, the game mechanisms will feel comfortable and familiar, so the fun is in seeing how The Looker subverts them. We giggled a lot. As a bonus, The Looker also layers some of The Witness unique interactions on top of nostalgic gaming activities, producing absurd but delightful tasks. The entire experience was a breezy, jolly way to relive the marathon of The Witness in a couple of hours. Just be aware that there is a bit of crude humor.
If you’re new to The Witness, The Looker might be unwarrantedly challenging. A couple of the interactions didn’t have clear onramps without prior knowledge of The Witness gameplay. Also, the hint “system” isn’t helpful in the least (albeit a comedic highlight). Players are on their own here as much as in the original game. And, from a content perspective, it would be much like watching Spaceballs without seeing Star Wars first; it hits the same beats, but they only make “sense” (if you can call it that) if you’ve seen the original.
My guess is that you’ll enjoy this game in proportion to how much you enjoyed the original. If you’re a fan of The Witness, definitely check it out.
Thanks for putting this on my radar – I really enjoyed The Witness and was happy to hear about something similar. And I got some book recommendations out of it too!
Hooray! Happy to help!