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The Witness Guide: Spoiler Free Tips for Solving Puzzles

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by Kyle Hanson

The Witness is a gorgeous, atmospheric experience that throws players into a puzzle filled environment full of mystery and intrigue. To accomplish this task the game doesn’t take a whole lot of time explaining its mechanics, leaving some players baffled as to how to solve many of the puzzles found in the game. Of course, figuring out the secrets of these puzzles for yourself is a huge piece of the enjoyment behind The Witness, so we won’t go into specifics here. However, some tips could give away some of the “aha!” moments in The Witness, so proceed with caution. OK, so here’s our tips and tricks for solving puzzles in The Witness.

Figure out the Key

Puzzles in The Witness are grouped together into sections. You’ll slowly be introduced to different elements of solving them, with each section usually exploring a single new piece, though sometimes multiple can be added at once. Your first and main task is to figure out the key to solving these puzzles (more on that later), so spend all your energy trying to figure out what makes this set of puzzles different from others, then get ready to use it multiple times throughout the area. The color of the puzzle usually indicates what solution needs to be used.

Experiment and Fail

None of the puzzles found in The Witness will cause you harm, and failing to solve them does nothing except possibly reset the puzzle that activated it (which you can easily re-solve), so don’t worry too much about messing up. In fact, failing at puzzles is the key way of learning how to solve them. When confronted with a new element, such as black symbols inside the maze, you’ll only figure out what needs to be done with them by trying a solution and seeing which of them flash red, indicating failure.

Pay Attention to the Environment

Some puzzles aren’t just contained in the screen you are staring at. Many involve elements outside of it, including the environment around the puzzle itself. Trees, buildings, rocks, anything nearby could be important to figuring out the key that we mentioned earlier. If you keep failing but aren’t sure why, try to pick out any tiny difference between this puzzle and others that you’ve solved. I can’t really give examples without spoiling something, but literally anything can be important here, so just keep experimenting.

Perspective Matters in The Witness

Still having trouble solving a puzzle? Maybe you’re looking at it the wrong way. I mean that literally. First off, you don’t have to be right near a puzzle in order to solve it, in fact, as long as you can see the face of it, you can solve it from anywhere. Secondly, many puzzles involve elements of the surrounding environment in different ways. Light can be important, or nearby pieces of foliage. Sometimes you need to look at a puzzle from different angles, and from different places in order to spot what the solution is, so try moving around if you’re having trouble.

Simple Solutions can be Right

The Witness contains a lot of intricate puzzles, but it also has a lot of simple ones too. Don’t get too caught up trying to figure out complex solutions for simple puzzles. Sometimes you just need to try the dumb stuff first and get them out of the way before diving into the really complicated elements.


If all else fails, or you just don’t feel like continuing on your current path, you can just wander around and explore the island of The Witness. You’ll stumble across new puzzles almost anywhere you go, so take some time every once in a while to just walk around, not solving anything. This will help you find new areas, but also give you better ideas for how to solve other puzzles on occasion. There’s a lot to see and do in The Witness, so you’ll feel like you missed out if you spend all your time grinding puzzles.

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