The Witness gets a bit tricksy as you move up the coast.
The Witness: Desert Ruins puzzle solutions
The puzzle variation found in Desert Ruins is rarely seen in other areas of The Witness, and thank goodness, because it’s fiddly as heck.
In the sections below we’ll explain how to tackle the challenges in each section of this multi-level puzzle series, spacing them out with screenshots to help you avoid spoilers if you’re just here for a little bit of help.
At the bottom of the page you’ll find image galleries showing all the puzzle board solutions.
Desert Ruins – ground level
The secret to solving these puzzle boards is that they’re dependent on the environment. Study the boards carefully from all angles and you may see it.
Still stuck? Here’s another tip: really reflect on the puzzles, and wait for illumination to strike. (Thanks to my pal @ponk for this one).
No good? Okay, the solution’s in the next line.
The puzzle solutions are etched on the terminal screens, presumably be people wearing, I don’t know, steel wool gloves while using the sliders. From the right angle, the sunlight catches the scratches and casts shadows, and you can see the path to take.
Some of the screens are half shaded, or require viewing from weird angles indeed. One can be moved with a slider at its rear to catch the sun better. I flat out guessed the moving one, so if anybody knows the real solution, please let us know!.
Desert Ruins – downstairs
Once you’ve finished all the puzzles at ground level you’ll power the lock on the door on the coast side of the ruins, allowing you access to the level beneath. There are two sets of puzzles here.
The first set of puzzles isn’t too hard; use the nearby slider switch to move between light sources so you can highlight the solutions. The last board needs to be pieced together by looking at it under all the lights in turn, so have a notebook or tablet handy to take notes.
The second room is a bit tricky; there’s not enough light to see the etching on most of the boards. If only you could see them from another angle.
Maybe, if you could get down lower… but that’s impossible. Something’s in the way.
Maybe there are some lessons from past puzzles to leverage here?
Yeah, you just have to look at their reflections. You may need to take some inetresting sideways angles to see the boards properly.
Desert Ruins – flooded basement and elevator
This one’s a bit of a nightmare. You need to sue reflections again, but there are sliders positioned around the room that drain or refill the room, and the etchings are only visible from very specific angles and water levels.
I brute forced the big puzzle at the end of the room, because I could only figure out how to see maybe a third of it. I’m not proud.
Once you make it through the water room you’ll be in the last area of this zone. You need to solve several puzzles to power the lift, which takes you up to the activated laser.
When the laser is active, follows its beam to Town, and climb up to find a compass-like slider you can use to reposition a nearby reflector, directing the beam in the correct direction.