An ode to the puzzle solve sound effect in The Witness.

None of the puzzle panel solutions in The Witness take longer than ten seconds to execute. Lines on a grid. Click, drag, repeat. To the uninformed spectator, it’s a rote exercise. Unremarkable. And yet the sound effect that plays upon success is surgically designed to enhance the player’s delight — a sonic scalpel, cutting quick and clean to the pleasure center of the brain.

Compared to other congratulatory sound effects, The Witness’s is sterile and sedate. No indulgent arpeggios. No trumpeting fanfare. There will be no confetti, no Gatorade shower, no ice cream cake. Neither is this the sound of release, of exhalation. You’ve no time for relief. Every puzzle begets another, daisy chained and laser beamed from launch to credits.

Rather, the effect is a glistering, mechanical crunch, accompanied by a whine, like a computer fan spinning up, rising in pitch until it shrieks beyond your audible range. Does it ever truly stop? With keener ears, would you hear it constantly, whenever you’re near a completed puzzle, proximate instances overlaid, each solve adding a voice to the choir, until the final line on the final panel reaches its terminus and the resultant harmony attains the island’s resonance frequency and — like a prima donna to a wine glass — sings it to smithereens?

Listening closer, you notice variations of the sound for each type of puzzle panel, for each material. One evokes the flash on a disposable camera, another the creaking open of an old screen door. But they’re all light bulbs, illuminating. A non-verbal “Eureka!”

By Devin Stone

Devin Stone is a former software engineer, aspiring author, and frequent embodiment of the Pepe Silvia meme. Find him over at

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