The Witness – Cheesing the Challenge

The Outline

One of the most difficult parts of the challenge is remembering your way through the invisible maze, which changes every time you run the challenge. It gets increasingly hard to remember the path and locations of two puzzles, especially if you retry challenge for prolonged periods of time.

This guide will show you how to cheese the whole memorization part of the challenge using nothing but Steam.

Rundown: We use steam screenshots to remember state of the maze puzzle. One screenshot before you solve puzzle (shows triangle puzzle locations in maze), one after you do (shows path through maze).

Preparation

It is preferable that you have more than one monitor, however that’s not a hard requirement.

  • Launch game, but don’t start the challenge run yet.
  • Alt-Tab out and Right Click on Steam icon in the tray. Select Screenshots in the menu.
  • This will open game screenshot browser, with The Witness already selected. 
  • Click the ‘Show on Disk’ button. Note: in-game screenshot browser that you can open in Steam Overlay does not have that button!
  • This will open the folder with screenshots. 
  • Place it so that you can see it on your second monitor. If you don’t have a second monitor, just maximize the folder, you’ll be able to Alt-Tab out of the game.
  • Now right click in the folder and put it in the thumbnail mode with largest possible thumbnails and make sure you can make out what is going on on the screenshots.

Here’s the tricky part: you’ll see your screenshots divided into rows. Make sure you have enough place for two screenshots on the bottom row, as if you don’t then they’re going to go offscreen when you make them!

Back to the game, don’t forget to set up your screenshot key. Forget any key combinations, use single key that’s easily accessible yet out of the way. I personally use F12.

Make sure your screenshot key works as intended and you have free space in bottom row.

Execution

Proceed with challenge as normal until the maze puzzle (right after first three puzzles).

Approach the puzzle so it takes majority of your screen. I prefer standing at the corner so it’s easier to distinguish directions in maze, but it also makes the puzzle smaller on screenshot.

Take a screenshot. Screenshot with dots should appear in the folder. Without moving your camera, complete the puzzle and take another screenshot. This will be your path through maze.

Continue with the puzzles as normal. Use both screenshots to navigate through the maze and search for triangle puzzles.

If you only have one monitor you can Alt-Tab out of the game window with no consequences, as long as you don’t touch that Esc button, but be aware: not only the clock is ticking in background, but the music will stop until you Alt-Tab back in, so the music no longer indicates proper time left. You’ll run out of time faster than you’ll run out of music. Keep it in mind.

If you fail, Alt-Tab out and delete these two screenshots you made.

Afterword

While the idea is trivial, it helps a lot. Using this approach I was able to complete the challenge on my fourth run, no joke. You still have to get lucky with puzzle layouts, though, but it’s much easier when you don’t have to memorize new maze every 10 minutes.

Xen0morph