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Desert Ruin walkthrough and solutions


Just like there's more than one way to solve some puzzles in The Witness, there's more than one way to use this guide.

We begin with a series of hints designed to gently nudge you toward solutions. If you're looking for a complete walkthrough with solutions, those appear next, at a safe distance for those who wish to avoid spoilers. Because they often require you to solve the area's puzzles first, we end with a guide to finding collectibles. Whatever your choice, you can jump directly to each section using the table of contents below.

Some puzzles in The Witness are designed for beginners who've just made landfall. Others intermediate, perfect for those who've spent a fair amount of time exploring the island. A final group would be difficult for veteran cast members Lost's sixth season to solve.

The Desert Ruin falls into the first category, perfect for your first few hours with The Witness because its puzzles don't require knowledge gained elsewhere. Everything you need to know to solve the puzzles in the Desert Ruin is available in its immediate surrounds. It's beginner's stuff. That doesn't mean it's easy, though.



Like many locations in The Witness, the solutions to puzzles in the Desert Ruin are inexorably linked to their geography. Deserts are notoriously hot, as the sun beats down onto the sparse hardpan. What would puzzles linked in some way to their environment use for their solutions?

If a particular puzzle's solution evades you, try taking a walk. This method of puzzle solving works well throughout The Witness, but it's particularly useful here.

As the series of puzzles continues, The Witness' creators do what they do best: riff on the mechanics they established earlier in your journey. If something becomes confusing, think back to the tricks you had to learn in earlier puzzles. You may find the solution to your present problem as a twist on your previous solutions.

Be sure to check out our beginner's guide for more general tips for the discerning island survivalist.


Walkthrough and solutions

Exterior puzzles

You'll need to use the light and your feet to solve these puzzles.

Interior puzzles room 1

Inside, there is little to no sun. But there can be light. Use the machine to illuminate the room until your paths through the mazes becomes clear.

Interior puzzles room 2

The Witness builds upon the light with water, hiding the solutions in reflective new ways.

Interior puzzles room 3

The darker it gets, the more you'll need the light. In this room, there's a switch that drains water. Using that, sparse sources of light, your position and some switches, drain and fill the water and move around to discover the solutions.

Interior puzzles room 4

The final room in this area uses all of the arrows in The Witness' quiver and then some. The most interesting puzzle is yet another twist on the idea of light and reflections. Pay particular attention to the translucent nature of one puzzle. You'll need to get behind it to solve it.


In The Witness, the island and its structures can be puzzles, too. They aren't as explicit or obvious as the puzzle boards strewn about (which is a nice way of saying that they're easy to miss). You have to look for them, given that environmental puzzles often appear in unlikely places. The good news: If you know what to look for, they're fairly easy to find. They telegraph their presence with the same ball-and-path design as the game's ubiquitous puzzle boards.

The Desert Ruin has a straightforward series of puzzles within, but the area also includes hidden environmental puzzles. Look for circles like the kind you'd find in standard maze puzzles. They're often part of existing structures, and their slight discoloration also gives them away. Stand in just the right place to create a path (or a series of paths) that you can trace.

Active puzzle solving mode at the back of the temple and on a structure by the seaside, and you'll find environmental puzzles to solve. As always, solving them will unleash their energy, which will travel to the obelisk that stands on the path between the Desert Ruin and Symmetry Island.


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