The Witness in VR would be “quite problematic”
Playing The Witness in virtual reality would be “quite problematic,” according to programmer Andrew Smith.
With such minimal movement and strict puzzle design, you’d expect The Witness to be a perfect candidate for VR. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Speaking in a recent Reddit AMA with Jonathan Blow, programmer Andrew Smith described The Witness in VR as “problematic,” citing the game’s environments and puzzle design as potential issues.
“VR is actually quite problematic for The Witness (outside of the broader issues that current seated or room-scale VR is just bad for navigating any huge open-world environment in first person) in that some of the alignment-puzzles (I won’t go into spoilers) can be ‘cheated’ by crouching down, or tilting your head etc.” Smith explained.
The game’s art style “works really well in VR,” but issues relating to the game’s puzzle mechanics make it a “far from optimal” experience.
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Andrew Smith also noted that navigating the game’s world in VR would be a big issue.
“[The Witness] was very much designed to be a traditional non-VR experience,” Smith explained. “The VR games that will really convince people are those that are designed for the format from the ground up.”
“Any kind of free navigation in VR is a hard problem. If you move around with a gamepad, but can move your head freely, what happens when you move your character up to an in-game wall and then lean forwards to stick your head through it?” he said.
“Should we disconnect the camera from the head tracking before it passes through the wall? Or do we move the collision boundaries in so you can’t get close enough to any object to do that? Both are pretty bad options.”
Related: The Witness Review
The Witness launched last month for PS4 and PC, and has since gone on to sell over 100,000 copies despite piracy problems on PC.
It may also be coming to Xbox One, judging by a recent rating by the ESRB.