The Witness manages to teach players its mechanics without resorting to boring tutorials.
Games have had a lot of time to grow over the past couple decades, and that presents a problem for game designers: you never know if the player is coming from a rich background of gaming, or completely new to the medium. Most games solve this issue with tedious, extensive tutorials to explain the game mechanics in clear terms, much to the ire of practiced gamers. Fortunately, Jonathan Blow's The Witness is not "most games." Blow walks through some early gameplay in a new video to demonstrate the game's learning stages, featuring a distinct lack of hand-holding.
The Witness is an exploration-based puzzle game, with its core mechanic involving maze-like puzzle panels with several twists. The game world is big, and often you'll have many routes open for you to explore, if you know how to solve their puzzles. However, the game won't tell you how - if you come across a difficult puzzle, you may need to seek out less complex variants to figure out what its rules are, before coming back when you've mastered it.
"In traditional adventure games," Blow explains, "you have key-and-door puzzles where you have to go find a key and open a door. This is the same thing, where I need a key to open this door, but the key is only knowledge. The key is only 'Do I understand what all these things mean?'"
The Witness is headed to PC and PS4 sometime in mid-2014.