If you want to brave spoilers, try our walkthrough.
The Witness is not an easy game. You’ll often be tempted to just look for the exact solutions to its difficult puzzles online. Instead, I offer this alternative.
I’m not here to give you the exact solutions to the hundreds of mazes. Instead, I have some spoiler-free tips that will help you beat The Witness without resorting to cheating or ripping out your hair.
Pay attention to your environment
Not every puzzle has its solution contained within its little display screen. If you’re stuck, look at the area around you. Pay attention to the trees and shadows. They can give you important clues. Even looking at a puzzle from a different perspective, even just standing a few feet in a different direction, can make an unbeatable maze solvable.
Use your phone’s camera and take notes
A lot of puzzles in The Witness can change based on your perspective, or the key to a solution can actually exist in a different part of the island. This is why it’s a good idea to use your phone’s camera (or, if you’re a bit more low-tech, take notes). You’ll be able to use your photos as an easy reference when solving puzzles.
Don’t stare at the same puzzle for hours
You’re going to come across a few puzzles that will stump you. No matter how many times you try, you can’t find a solution. Instead of hurting your brain and repeating the same failure over and over, move on. The island’s filled with puzzles. Try something else, and come back to the one that was giving you trouble later. Chances are, you’ll learn something from those other mazes that will help you out.
You don’t need to light every beacon
Your main goal in The Witness to light beacons, each of which shine a light at the top of a mountain on the island. You can turn these beacons by solving a specific area’s puzzles. But note: you don’t need to solve every puzzle or light every beacon. You just need to turn on seven of them to get to the game’s ending. So, if a certain section seems particularly difficult, see if you can find a different beacon that’s easier to light.
Play with friends
The Witness isn’t technically a multiplayer game, but friends can help you a lot. More eyes on a puzzle can lead to quicker solutions. Your friends might think of answers that you couldn’t fathom. This is especially helpful when a particular puzzle has completely broken your will. A fresh brain can offer a new perspective and even give you a bit of a mental rest.
Look for mazes in unusual places
The Witness has a lot of secrets. A lot of these hide right in the environment. If you pay attention, you’ll notice large circles, just like the ones that indicate the start of a maze, hiding in buildings and nature. If you can shift your perspective just right, you’ll find a way to connect these circles to paths that will eventually end at a rounded edge (again, just like the game’s mazes). Once you see these, trace a path through them just like you would any other puzzle in the game.
If you’re stuck, find a boat
On the outskirts of the island, you’ll find docks that summon a boat. This vessel can help you quickly navigate the island (and get to some places you couldn’t reach otherwise), but it also helps in another way. The map on the ship has a bunch of icons on it. These are the same symbols you’ll find in the game’s puzzles. If a maze is giving you trouble because you don’t know what a symbol means, look for that icon on the map and then go to the corresponding area. You’ll find a series of puzzles that will teach the new mechanic.
Be careful when beating the game
Once you beat The Witness, you have to start the game over if you want to keep playing. That means you’ll have to re-solve all of the puzzles you already completed and rediscover all of the secrets you already found. So, if you really want to 100 percent The Witness, don’t finish the final series of puzzles until you know you’ve done everything else. Don’t worry, you’ll know them when you see them.