Last week I reached the ending of Jonathan Blow's latest opus, The Witness, without the aid of any outside help. For a split second, I felt like the smartest man on the planet. Then, upon watching the ending, I quickly felt like the dumbest as I had no earthly idea what the game I'd just spent a couple dozen of hours on was about.
In Play is a new column taking a weekly sideways look at new game releases. It's a bit like our old series Game of the Week, if you remember that.
After receiving literally several requests to reboot the podcast, we're doing just that. We had a lovely time recording this one-off special at last year's EGX and a bunch of the Eurogamer staff - including myself - have missed being able to sit down and chat video games for around an hour or so.
There are three simple reasons why The Witness is my most anticipated game of 2014.
2014 is upon us, and it promises riches and glory unlike any year before it. With their launches under their belts, the next generation of consoles will, hopefully, show us what they're made of. Virtual reality headsets may make their mark on the mainstream. And with a raft of crowdfunded games due out over the next 12 months, 2014 should tell us whether all that money we pumped into promising projects on Kickstarter was worth it.
Indies are scorching hot. Maybe it was Minecraft. Maybe it was Super Meat Boy. Maybe it was Journey. Either way, just weeks before the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One it is indie developers who find themselves - whether they like it or not - on the front line of the next generation battle.
There are a couple of refreshing things about Braid designer Jonathan Blow's presentation of his next game The Witness on Sony's stand at E3. The first is that it's happening at all. The second is that he's showing us the actual game. Such is the illusory nature of the great annual video game circus, where even virtual worlds aren't real.
At E3 last week, in a behind closed doors presentation called Xbox 101, Microsoft engineering manager Jeff Henshaw - not a member of the PR team, he points out - tells a small gathering of journalists that Xbox One's 300,000 server cloud gives the next-generation console a unique advantage.
The two-man developer Vlambeer knew it was on to something with its 2D dogfighting retro throwback Luftrausers. Its snappy pace and minimalist visuals seemed well suited for on-the-go gaming, but Vlambeer worried its control scheme would be compromised on mobile. Instead, the Netherlands-based developer decided it would be a perfect fit for the PlayStation Vita's widescreen and button input. So it did what any small studio would do - it worked on a pitch.
"I'm not directly managing third-party relations," says Shuhei Yoshida, when I ask him a question that pretty much has nothing to do with the area of Sony Computer Entertainment for which he is responsible.
New IPs, we're told, aren't really feasible at the tail-end of a generation, so it's heartening to sit down and discover that a sizeable part of the games industry is sticking its tongues out at the likes of Yves Guillemot and Peter Moore; 2013's looking like it's going to be an absolutely stellar year for Actual New Games.
Back in December the Eurogamer editorial team had a massive public fight about whether 2011 was a good year for games. Well, we had the closest thing we're capable of having to a massive public fight - we wrote polite editorials disagreeing with one another. One thing we all agreed upon, however, was that we would very much like to see more Actual New Games in 2012.
After Braid, Jonathan Blow's latest game, The Witness, seems like quite a departure: it's a 3D exploration experience set in a realistic environment rather than a dreamy watercoloured side-scroller. That said, it's still a dense congregation of ingenious puzzles, and it concerns itself, to a large extent, with a classic Braid preoccupation - the relationship between game themes and game mechanics. With the designer recently visiting London, we caught up with him to ask him a selection of rambling questions and received some surprisingly concise answers.
At first, you might say that The Witness is set on an island. Then, it slowly starts to dawn on you that the game is the island: breezy, threatless and yet strangely mysterious. With its pebbles, trees, and little tufts of grass, it's both realistic and quietly abstract, in the manner of a Japanese garden. It's playful and sombre. It's intricate and wordless. It is, in short, the new game from Jonathan Blow, the creator of Braid.