The Witness has delivered on its promise of mind-bending puzzles and beautiful scenery.In this The Witness Beginners Guide, we’ve put together several basic tips to help you unlock the secrets of The Witness’ mysterious world.
If you're looking for puzzle solutions, head over to our The Witness Puzzle Solutions guide, where you'll find a walkthrough for every puzzle in the game.
The Witness is chock full of mysteries and secrets to uncover around every corner. This guide features a set of general tips and guidelines to keep in mind for players who are new to exploratory puzzle games like this one. There’s no spoilers or puzzle solutions in this guide, only suggestions to help you achieve every satisfying “A-Ha” moment on your own.
Think Outside the Box
At first, it will seem as though the puzzles of The Witness have been placed within a stunning, cel-shaded world merely for aesthetic purposes. However, as you begin to explore the landscape, you will discover that the environment actually plays a critical role in the puzzles themselves.
Your surroundings can offer new information to help you solve nearby puzzles, causing you to see certain puzzles in a different light. If a puzzle has you particularly stumped, changing your perspective or physical orientation can often provide clues in unexpected places. A difficult puzzle may simply require you to see it through a broader scope. Also, note that some puzzle screens can be activated at a distance, rather than zoomed in up close.
Take in the Big Picture
Try to think outside the box when tackling a tricky puzzle panel. Oftentimes your surroundings will guide you toward the puzzle solution you seek. While exploring the vast island, keep an eye out for patterns, even in unexpected places. There are plenty of secrets to discover beyond the limits of those linear puzzle matrix screens. If you sense that something has a deliberate pattern or placement, chances are it does. There are hidden secrets to stumble upon as you travel between puzzles. Stop and click around on aspects of the environment to unveil potential surprises.
Take Notes and Screenshots
In the beginning stage of the game, early puzzles can be solved with a bit of additional patience and mental jiu-jitsu. However, sketching out puzzles on paper can ease your mental burden and help you work through the more complex puzzles you'll encounter later on. Keep a notepad handy for jotting down interesting patterns in the environment, or for untangling a puzzle by hand.
Though the colorful scenery alone is enough to justify taking copious screenshots, having a backlog of screen captures can also serve as reference information for future puzzles. Take occasional screen grabs whenever you encounter interesting patterns in the environment, as these can reveal more than just a pretty backdrop. Screenshots can be captured by double-tapping the Playstation button on your PS4 controller, or by pressing F12 when playing on Steam.
Look for Logic
The Witness mostly contains puzzles that are deliberately structured and have a specific logic to their solution, as any good puzzle game should. Solving puzzles comes down to understanding what a puzzle is trying to convey. Once you understand the key to unlocking a certain puzzle panel, the panels linked nearby in the same section will usually require a similar solution, with slight variation.
Retrace Your Steps
As you complete puzzles and traverse the island, keep in mind that some puzzles can impact adjacent puzzles nearby. After solving several puzzles, try to retrace your steps and return to areas that you visited earlier, in case new information has been revealed in the wake of your progress.
Save Puzzles for Later
If a puzzle has you frustrated or stumped, don’t be too proud to walk away and explore the next puzzle. In the same vein as the previous tip, make note of difficult puzzles and return to them at a later time. Sometimes solving additional puzzles can provide the practice or information you need to grasp a tricky puzzle from before.
Not All Puzzles Need Solving
Game progress in The Witness is determined by lighting a series of beacons throughout the island. Although there are many beacons, you are only required to light seven beacons to reach the game's ending. Once the game concludes, finishing incomplete puzzles can only be done on a second playthrough. This would require re-solving all of the same puzzles again. If you want to complete everything on your first playthrough, be sure to backtrack and revisit unfinished puzzles before completing the final series of puzzles. The game ending puzzles should be pretty obvious when you reach them.