The Witness: Essential Puzzle Guide; Light all the Beacons, Beat the Game

Learn how to solve each and every critical puzzle featured in The Witness.

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We're already knee-deep into our complete The Witness Puzzle guide, but since that guide covers each and every puzzle in the game, we wanted to spread out and create a one-stop solution shop for those just looking to make it through the main puzzles required to complete The Witness. This guide will only cover the essential puzzle solutions. For any extra puzzles, please refer to our original puzzle walkthrough. It should also be noted that we won't be covering any "tutorial puzzles" in this guide as we wanted to really cut down the extra fat that appears in this guide.

If you want help with additional puzzles, tutorial puzzles, or collectibles please check out our complete puzzle walkthrough for The Witness.

Also, since there isn't any real way to check your progression, and there isn't a "set way" to do things, our guide may feature sections in a different order than you played them in. Don't stress out. The most important part of this game is solving the puzzles. The order doesn't always matter.

Find out what Ozzie Mejia thought of this beautiful and challenging puzzle game in his official The Witness review.

Some Things to Know Before You Get Started

  • Don't bash your head against the wall. If you're stuck and you just can't figure something out, walk away. Take a breather and play with your dog or cat to ease your frustrations. We promise the puzzles aren't going anywhere.
  • Feel like you're moving slow? Sprint using SHIFT/L2/LEFT TRIGGER.
  • Paying attention to your surroundings is extremely important in The Witness as the background behind puzzles can hold the solution you're looking for.
  • This isn't an FPS game centered around mindless running and gunning. Take time to try to think about things before simply attempting to make quick answers. Sometimes taking a few seconds to think things through can save you a lot of headache.
  • If you can't figure out where to go next, just look around for wires leading to something. Many of these puzzles connect with each other, so you'll always want to be aware of what connections your solutions are making.

Also... It should go without saying, but SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Garden

Upon loading into the game for the first time you'll find yourself staring at a door at the end of a long tunnel. Head down the tunnel and solve the puzzle on the door to get the hang of the mechanics. It's a super simple puzzle, so don't worry about getting frustrated just yet.

Once you've solved the first puzzle, head out the tunnel to encounter a second door with a puzzle. Solve this simple puzzle to unlock the first area of the game, the Garden.

Once you climb the stairs from the second door, head straight in front of you to the panel at the end of the gravel path. Solve this puzzle and it should light up the black cable running from the panel.

Follow the cable to find another panel. Solve it and continue the process.

Once you solve this third puzzle in the tower, follow the cable to a large laser-like gate with a puzzle to the right of it. The puzzle is blocked off by three panels, one of which you've just removed.

From here you need to follow the other two cables to the corresponding panels and activate them. First follow the cable that leads back towards the area where you first entered. You'll need to head around the wall to the right of the door, where you should spot the entrance to one of the Garden's four towers. Head inside to find the puzzle. You should notice two cables running from it. Ignore the top one, it only leads to additional areas that aren't essential to the completion of the story.

With this puzzle solved, and the panel removed from the gate lock, head back to the gate and follow the third and final cable to the tower directly opposite of the one you just explored.

Once this puzzle has been solved the gate to the Garden will open.

From here head out the main gate and follow the path until you spot a fork to the left with a door at the end. This is the final puzzle of this area. To solve it you'll just need to line up all the hexagon pieces and seperate the white cubes from the black.

Once inside the bunker you'll find a large box. Open it using the simple puzzle on the backside, and then memorize the image you find inside. We suggest taking a screenshot so you don't forget.

The First Beacon - The Boathouse

Once you've gotten the hang of The Witness and some of the different puzzles you'll encounter across the island, its time to move on to the first critical part of the game. To finish the main game you'll need to activate five beacons across the island. The first beacon's puzzle path begins through a small canyon just past the blue panels in the field.

Head through the canyon and down the path to find a door with a puzzle on it.

Hint: This area is based on symmetry.

Once you open the door, head inside and make your way to the far back of the boathouse to find another group of panels.

Hint: The lines must mirror each other, and the path must be completely clear to solve the puzzle.

With the first set of panels in the boathouse solved, turn and locate the activate group on the side of the kiln in the middle of the area.

Now head around to the other side of the kiln and solve the next set.

This activates a wooden door a little bit away. Exit the boathouse and follow the now-lit cable up the hill and solve the puzzle on the door to open it.

Hint: Use the technique you learned from the green panels in the broken down house and pass through every hexagon with the line.

Now follow the path on the right down to find the first set of panels.

With this group of panels activated follow the wire to the next group and solve them.

Hint: You'll control the blue line in these puzzles, so it is very important to make sure you start in the right node.

This next set of panels changes things up a little bit, but don't let things confuse you.

Hint: The yellow line is fading now, but these puzzles still follow the same rule of symmetry.

Once you complete these puzzles the panel on the wooden gate blocking your progression up the hill will activate. Head up the hill and solve it.

Now make your way back to the center of the hill and climb the stone steps to find a set of six more panels. The right side connects to the yellow cable, and while they don't connect to the beacon you're trying to activate, they are required to figure out the blue solutions.

Now that you've solved the yellow panels it's time to solve the blue panels.

Hint: Remember that this entire puzzle has revolved around symmetry. With that in mind, take the yellow panel solutions into consideration.

With the blue panels activated, the final puzzle of this beacon will unlock.

Once you activate it, step back and watch as the first beacon, your first real step required to complete The Witness, will rise and activate, shooting off into the distance.

The Second Beacon - Desert Ruins

Once you've completed the boathouse, head down the hill and out the gate, following the path as it forks left. After a bit of walking you should find your way over a rise and be greeted by these temple ruins in a desert type biome.

This is our next stop. Head on inside to find the first couple of puzzles waiting.

Hint: Use the sun to highlight scratch marks of the solutions on these puzzles.

Now things get a little trickier. As you can see, this panel is half hidden in shadows.

Make note of any scratches on the portion in the sunlight, then head behind it and solve the simple puzzle to move it.

This will activate a group of panels at the top of some scaffolding.

With those puzzles solved the one below the group will unlock.

Hint: Solve this puzzle by looking at things from a different angle.

This will activate a panel below it, which you'll need to move around.

As the panel moves, head up the scaffolding on the opposite side of the ruins to spot this solution.

Now head to the back of the ruins, down the ramp, and unlock the door.

Once inside you'll need to solve the panels by changing which lights are activated using this panel.

This will unlock the panel on the floor.

Solve it then head through the next door and down the stairs to the next level.

Things get a little trickier here.

Hint: Use the reflections in the water to solve these puzzles.

Remember that you may have to look at things from a different angle to get the entire picture.

Once all the puzzles are solved in this area, head to the now activate door and unlock it to find another set of stairs, and another level of puzzles to solve.

You'll need to pay attention to the reflections in the water again, but this time a new mechanic has been added.

Hint: Raise and lower the water level to produce more reflections.

Some panels may be hidden completely under the water when it is too high.

Now solve this last puzzle to unlock a gate to the last area of the ruins.

Head through the gate and into the last area.

Hint: Use everything you've learned up to this point to solve these last few puzzles.

Hint: If you find your path blocked... simply find another way to look at things.

Make sure to move the last panel so you can spot the solution!

With the last panel solved, head into the elevator and start it up.

This will lift you back up the surface and activate the second beacon.

The Third Beacon - The Fall Forest -- Coming Soon

This guide is a work in progress and we are constantly updating our feature with new puzzle solutions. Please return daily for more content.

Guides Editor

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has been exploring the world of video games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys everything from large-scale RPGs to small, bite-size indie gems and everything in between.