The Witness Puzzle That Broke My Spirit

The Witness Puzzle That Broke My Spirit

I spent three hours staring at this puzzle, wondering if I was losing my mind.

Warning: We're going to spoil a single puzzle in The Witness, but this puzzle sucks, so whatever.

If there's a single refrain in people's observations about The Witness, it's that you shouldn't look up solutions to the puzzles. Walk away, play another game, do whatever you need to do. Don't wander over to YouTube or Twitter for help.

So when I reached this puzzle after a few hours of playing The Witness, I did exactly that. I'd eureka'd my way through the other brain teasers before hitting this wall of bricks. After an hour of scratching my head, I decided to call it quits.

Then, Rise of the Tomb Raider happened, and I lost the next few weeks to Lara Croft's latest adventure. I don't regret that; it gave me hope that my return to Jonathan Blow's mysterious island would be one of revelation. On Sunday morning, as I sipped a cup of coffee, I figured my a-ha moment was at hand.

And so, I found myself in the same place as last time.

The Witness Puzzle That Broke My Spirit

Thirty minutes went by. Sixty minutes. I was fuming. I knew the trick to these puzzles was a riff on perspective, but I didn't get what the precise trick for this one was.

Specifically, it's related to moving a set of tree branches in front of the grid.

The Witness Puzzle That Broke My Spirit

In some puzzles, the branches (or flowers) produced the path in-between where the objects fall. For these, the branches actually make up the path itself, but since they obstruct the grid, you need to mentally remember (or draw) the path.

There's another set of branches that present a different set of options. Sort of.

The Witness Puzzle That Broke My Spirit

I went between the two over and over, wondering how they might connect, which resulted in the expected series of notebook pages full of total garbage.

The Witness Puzzle That Broke My Spirit

Nothing made sense to me. I didn't get it. No matter what I did, the pieces didn't line up in a way that produced a successful path. My wife didn't have any answers, either, and I'd almost thrown the controller at the TV in frustration.

There were two options, really.

One, walk away from the game, which might be permanent.

Two, hope Twitter could give me a hint on what to do next and not totally spoil the solution. Would that be cheating? At that point, I honestly didn't care.

Over and over, people kept saying "look around" or "something is missing."

Nothing, nada. Of course, something is missing. The god damn solution.

Then, someone suggested I look for a twig. What the hell are you........... oh.

The Witness Puzzle That Broke My Spirit

"You have to be effing kidding me" is a direct quote from my angry mouth.

Yes, I realise a previous puzzle — the trees with the apples — suggested there might be times when the solution could literally exist outside the puzzle.

No, I still don't think that makes it a good puzzle. It's a cheap shot, a trick.

A few moments later, the cord lit up and everything was over. I suppose, technically, I've tainted this playthrough of The Witness, but it meant the difference between me continuing to play the game and leaving it behind.

I hope there aren't any more puzzles like this.


    I hope there aren’t any more puzzles like this.

    There are. Some of the puzzles do use cheap tricks. Some people get an "aha!" reaction when they realise it, others get a "oh, well that was bullshit" reaction instead. I tended more to the latter on the ones I found, personally.

      I've called bullshit way too many times. I'm happy enough to own up to using a guide for a puzzle or two...or three.

    I found that one easy, I had seen the twig on the ground on the previous puzzle and though it was suspicious. But then I've been stumped on puzzles that others probably flew through.

      Every other puzzle in that area had to do with "perspective", which was my clue.

    See I loved that puzzle, as the logic slowly dawned on me once I had the thought "the twigs are missing bits" that it could be on the floor. The environment related ones are awesome.

    Except for one. I won't spoil the solution, but that door on one of the buildings in town that is covered in sun symbols of about five different colours can fuck right off. I applied the taught logic to that one for ages, none of it working, because the solution is a cheap trick no one in their right mind would just figure out.

    Seriously: Fuck. That. Door.

      Ahahahaha I know which one you speak of. Did you do it before the bunker?

        Haven't hit the bunker yet, I'm guessing it teaches you the trick? I cracked and looked it up.

          Yeah, the colour filtering is the bunker's big trick.

            The only indication that I couldn't solve this one yet was the odd number of stars. It didn't make sense, so I wandered off, did the puzzle on the next door over - and stumbled onto the solution.

            Then, 5 minutes later, found myself at the bunker where it explained everything. Fuming!

              I did the town last given it incorporates all of the puzzle areas

                I thought I was doing that, didn't know the bunker existed until afterwards.

      I still haven't solved that one. Finished the game without it. But I was still trying to give it a logical solution, as I suppose you did as well.

        The solution isn't logical, just an epic troll. Many angries.

      There absolutely is a logical solution. The town puzzles combine aspects that you learn in each of the other areas of the game. There's a whole series of puzzles (elsewhere) that teach you exactly how that one on the door works.

      while I don't agree with the cheapness of the puzzle in this article, I agree with your comment that the star puzzle in the town doesn't make any sense.

    So you're mad because in this one instance you were literally stuck thinking inside the box. ;P

    Yeah, that puzzle also made me rage. Ended up brute forcing it.

    it’s that you shouldn’t look up solutions to the puzzles.

    Then provides solution to puzzle later on in article.....

      Ahhh... The second sentence of the article is a larger sized and bolded spoiler warning.

      It's the sentence immediately prior to the one you quoted.

    I love hearing about where different people got stuck in this game. I solved this particular puzzle pretty quickly, but goddamn I got hopelessly stuck in the quarry. I fluked my way through half of the "tutorial" puzzles, with that little white triangle thing, and still didn't understand the rules of them.
    Almost wept when I finally figured out what was going on.

    It took me a while, but I wouldn't call it cheap. It just requires slow observation. And patience. The solution is literally right next to the puzzle...

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