HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
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.
- Walkthrough and solutions
- Collectibles and extras
The Monastery and its series of nested puzzles are a perfect example of how The Witness communicates without words. If you get stuck and confused — and we surely did — it's helpful to consider what the design of the wordless world is trying to tell you. If you were designing this game and you wanted to tell players how to think, how would you do that?
It's so important to understand The Wittness' nonverbal communication that the philosophical key to solving some of the puzzles within is laid bare in the first two very simple puzzles you solve.
The Monastery seems to have been abandoned long ago. It's not as pristine as it once was. What might that imply about the state of the puzzles and their intended solutions?
Your surroundings are supremely important, particularly when solving certain puzzles.
Confused? At the end of your rope Why not take a walk around the area?
Be sure to check out our beginner's guide for more general tips for the discerning island survivalist.
FRONT DOOR PUZZLES
The first two puzzles are so simple that they probably don't need a guide. But we've included one here because they convey enormous meaning. Though it's not overt, what you must do to open the doors to the Monastery teaches what you must do to solve the puzzles within it.
The tree puzzle has four possible solutions, and there's an easy way to understand which direction opens which set of doors. In short, if you stand behind the tree and face the doors you want to open, the puzzle path left open — based on where you're standing — will open the doors that you're facing.
Put differently, if you stand behind the tree puzzle and face the Monastery door, there's only one path you can trace. As ever, it's a U shape. The bottom end of the U is closest to you. The open, top end of the U is farthest away. That open end is also a visual metaphor signifying the doors that open when you solve the puzzle in this way.
Everything you trace is closed. The one side you don't trace is open. That works no matter which way you face when solving the puzzle.
OUTSIDE GATE PUZZLES
When you entered the area, you had to look through two walls to solve two puzzles on the other side of them. Solving the series of three puzzles on the outside of the Monastery building requires you to do the same thing — with a twist.
You need to stand inside the Monastery and, with the doors facing the puzzles outside open, look through to find the correct path. (At least for the puzzle on the left and the one in the middle.)
The second puzzle in the sequence uses an idea we first encountered in the Orchard. Look down, and you'll see the bit of wood that fell off of the wall. Imagine that it didn't fall off, and you'll see the correct path.
The third puzzle twists the formula again. Go outside and look at section of the outside wall facing the puzzle. You'll see a zigzag shape running down through a tree. Trace that on the puzzle to solve the third and final puzzle in the sequence.
Solving those three puzzles has two effects. First, it routs power to the closed gate on the wall to the right of the puzzles. Second, it energizes a series of puzzles attached to the structural posts inside the Monastery. Second, it grants access to a small area, though a gate blocks its exit. For the solution to that puzzle, see the SIDE GATE section.
There is utterly no indication within the world about how to solve these puzzles, though you can understand then by thinking about what you just did in the previous puzzles. Here in the Monastery, it's always as much about what you're looking through as it is about the puzzles you need to solve.
In this sequence, you need to place tree branches and leaves between you and the puzzles. Sometimes, they'll show you a very clear path. By the end, they'll trace a path. And the final, most damning puzzle even incorporates broken branches into its solution. Look to the floor.
YELLOW LEAF PUZZLES
Two-thirds of the this wall of puzzles is straightforward: Stand in the right place and trace a path from a gourd through a series of yellow flowers.
The third in the sequence (from left to right — it's the one in the shape of a chalice) requires you to trace your path at the same time you close the doors on the wall that will block it. That requires you to be quick and in the right position, so we've included a video to show you exactly where you need to be.
BACK GATE SWITCH
SIDE GATE PUZZLE
We suggested above that, if you get stuck, it might be a good idea to take a walk. That's how we discovered that we could reach the gate that blocks the path beyond the outside gate puzzles.
To reach the area, walk out the front of the Monastery and down its staircase. Then turn around, facing the Monastery and walk up the grassy hill to the stairs' right. You'll eventually make your way to the door. The solution isn't apparent, but to solve it, just stand in the right place and — as with every puzzle in this area — use the environment to show you the way.
There is another door that leads away from the monastery, blocked by yet another puzzle. We'll cover that later.
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.
Whether they realize it or not, everyone who walks into the Monastery must first walk over a series of environmental puzzles. Face the Monastery's front door and back down the stone steps. The building's keystone has the same shape as the ball that begins other puzzles. Why? Because it and a mess of similarly light colored stones are a series of environmental puzzles.
Finding the right paths requires some footwork. Walk around the front of the Monastery until, from your vantage point, there is an unbroken path of light colored stone. Enter puzzle solving mode and trace your way down.
Solving each will release a stream of energy that blasts directly to this area's obelisk, lighting up a rune with each successful trace. To reach the obelisk and examine what you've unlocked, just walk up the hill to the right of the Monastery stairs.
Stand in the right place, and you'll uncover a silhouette. It's on the wall opposite the Monastery's entrance, providing that walls doors (or blinds) are closed. The shadow through the trees in the back of the Monastery create something similar, no work on your part required.