Mass Effect: Andromeda: A complete guide to glyph puzzles

Despie alien threats and impending starvation, one of the more complex challenges you'll face in Mass Effect: Andromeda involves a puzzle that has its roots not just in an ancient alien species, but in your classic Sudoku booklet.

These Remnant Glyph puzzles involve a complex blend of glyph gathering and the classic logic of Sudoku, with plenty of twists that only an extinct alien race could ever conceive. So let's take a look at exactly how these puzzles work and cover everything you need to know to become a master of Andromeda's Glyph Puzzles.

The Basics

To get started, we're going to look at one of the first glyph puzzles you encounter on the planet Eos. It's easily the most simple sequence in the game as Bioware attempts to ease you into the concept as a whole.

The rules behind this hi-tech game of space Sudoku are identical to its real life cousin, the only key difference is that you won't be dealing with the numbers 1 through 9 and occasionally you'll encounter some non-traditional layouts. Instead you'll need to gather and scan Remnant glyphs to use within the puzzles, and occasionally you'll have to adapt the way you check each quadrant based off of specific layouts.

The rules of the puzzle are simple at their core - your goal is to make sure that no glyphs repeat in certain patterns.

In this case you need to make sure that no glyphs repeat horizontally or vertically in a line, and you'll need to make sure that no glyphs repeat within a quadrant. These quadrants can change from puzzle to puzzle and are indicated by a light blue border.

On Eos, these quadrants are simple 2x2 squares, with four quadrants in all coming together to form a 4x4 grid.

Of course, before you can even start working on the puzzle you'll need to find and scan a predetermined number of glyphs. Luckily, this is the simplest part of the puzzle at large.

To locate a glyph, simply scan the center console at any active monolith and follow the yellow powerlines through the ground to where they end at a glyph.

On Eos, that means running to the base of one of the nearby monoliths and using a small console to raise a platform out of the ground.

This will allow you to climb to the top of the spire and scan the glyph located there. Rinse and repeat for the other spire to find the remaining glyph and you're good to go.

Access the console in the center of the monolith and you'll notice that any glyphs that were previously represented by a question mark are now filled in. At this point you're all set up to actually solve the puzzle.  

You can also watch Nick and Mike play through this section during one of their recent Newegg Livestreams.

Tricks of the Trade

If you've played any significant amount of Sudoku in the past, what I'm about to cover is going to be an old space helmet. But for anyone new to this style of puzzle, it's time to talk about the different types of checks you can make to figure out what glyph to place where.

The Line Check

This is fairly straightforward: you look at a blank space in the puzzle and down the grid horizontally and vertically. You're looking for whatever glyph isn't there and you're using the glyphs present horizontally and vertically as a frame of reference to eliminate the possibilities.

In the example above, by looking horizontally and vertically down the grid from the box in the top left hand corner we can see that in both lines we have 3 out of the 4 glyphs. Because none of the glyphs can repeat in a line, we know that the only glyph that isn't present is the one that looks like a backwards 3. That means we can safely fill in that box with that glyph because no other glyph would fit there without repeating in a line.

The Box or Quadrant Check

That same logic applies to whatever box or quadrant is marked by the light blue glowing lines on the puzzle. In this case, it matches up with traditional Sudoku as a standard cube. Because you can't have repeating glyphs within this quadrant, we know based on the other glyphs present in the box that, again, the glyph has to be the backwards 3.

Fill out the obvious First and Foremost

With these two concepts in mind, your first step to solving the puzzle is to look for any lines or squares that only have a single free space left available. In this case, as we've already figured out the top left quadrant has three out of four glyphs in the cube, the answer to the only empty box is clear. There are two other boxes pictured below that you can fill out the second you begin the puzzle.

Occasionally, for simple puzzles, these are the only tricks you'll need. Once you fill in all the basic freebies you'll reveal another set of boxes that only have a single free space, and you can continue to fill out the puzzle until you either run out of freebies or you complete the puzzle.  In the case of the puzzle on Eos, all you need to do is keep filling in these free squares until you complete the puzzle.

Of course, sometimes you run out of freebies and you're forced to look for other avenues to fill in the puzzle. This is where the more complex levels of cross-referencing and organization start to play a part.

Working Systematically

This trick is as much organizational as anything, and involves choosing a single glyph and working to find and fill any possible boxes with that glyph based off of the lines that the glyph has already filled. Because glyphs can never repeat along a line or a quadrant, we know that there is only ever going to be a number of one type of glyph equal to the number of lines in the puzzle.

In the previous example on Eos we only had four lines, so we only had to worry about four of each type of glyph. Every time we filled in a glyph we crossed out that entire line of boxes as a possible options for that glyph.

This means that by filling in the glyph for the backwards 3 in the top left hand corner we can immediately fill in the backwards 3 for the vertical line just below it because we've now eliminated the backwards 3 as a possibility for the entire top row.

This technique allows you to fill in spaces based off of the concept of what doesn't fit or what can't fill the space.

A Curveball or Two

Now that you've got the basics down, it's worth mentioning one of the biggest curveballs that Bioware sends down the pipe almost the second you step off Eos to the planet of Voeld. The monoliths on this planet are a bit bigger and use a differently shaped quadrant than those on Eos.

In the examples above and below, you can see that Voeld adds a fifth row and designates two different quadrant shapes that are highlighted in a light blue laser. So instead of a 4x4 cube made up of four 2x2 quadrants, we're now looking at a 5x5 grid with a cross quadrant in the middle, and four separate oddly shaped quadrants surrounding it.

This is important to mention, not only because it means that your box check extends to a different shape, but because it means you need to be hyper aware of the light blue outline around each quadrant for future puzzles. Bioware's most complicated puzzles are likely to integrate multiple quadrants in a variety of shapes, all interlocking together in a nightmare of possible box and line checks. To make sure you don't perform the wrong checks, it's important that you're hyper vigilant for when Bioware inevitably sends a curveball down the pipe.

A Leap of Faith

It's also important to note one final element of Sudoku that might come into play on some of the most complex glyph puzzles in the game. I've always referred to this concept as a leap of faith, and it's essentially a point in the puzzle where you've solved everything you possibly can but you're still left with several empty glyph locations that you can't prove are going to be one glyph or another.

In this case you've encountered a bit of a Schrodinger's glyph, where you can either continue your calculations assuming that the glyph is both possibilities, or you can take the somewhat easier route and make an educated guess, continuing with the puzzle until you either solve it because your guess was correct or the natural logic of the puzzle breaks and you have to go back and change the glyph to the correct value.

In these situations, it's important that you place your educated guess in a position where it has as close to a fifty/fifty chance as possible, and make a note of where you made your mistake and/or what values you've changed since that guess. This is why you see a lot of experienced Sudoku players making small number notes in the corners of certain boxes. It helps them keep track of what superposition they went with and ultimately leads them to the right answer.

That means that you may have to break out a pen and paper and hope that you can figure it out. Personally, this is where things start getting complicated enough that I generally just make my educated guess and keep going until I walk off a cliff and have to start over.

For Andromeda, this could mean that you end up suffering the consequences of failing a particular monolith puzzle a few times until you figure out which leap of faith is correct. Personally, I'm saving every one of my Remnant Decryption Keys for the first time I encounter one of these so I can keep a small portion of my sanity.

Have Patience

These puzzles can be more than a little tough, but the most important skill to practice in order to complete them is patience.

Unfortunately, these monoliths are sometimes mandatory to progress down a quest path, and sometimes they can take a lot of time and effort, but as long as you take your time and work through them systematically you'll come out ahead eventually.

The natural logic of the puzzles themselves makes it nearly impossible for you to make a mistake that you don't notice if you check each line and quadrant before confirming the puzzle. It can be more than a little frustrating to switch gears from a fast-paced action-RPG to an alien game of Sudoku without getting a little impatient to return to some of the fun stuff. But if you don't take your time, you can end up missing a tiny difference from one glyph to the next and have to start the puzzle all over from scratch - with the added bonus of a potential Remnant trap along the way.

Master List of Monolith Locations and Puzzle Solutions

Just in case you ever run into a puzzle that's particularly challenging or that you just don't want to spend the time to complete, we're also compiling a Master List of Glyph Puzzles and their appropriate solution as we continue to progress through the game.

Eos Monolith 1 (Part of main story quest)

Location:

Solution:

Eos Monolith 2 (Used to unlock a chest guarded by a Destroyer)

Location:

Solution:

Havarl Monolith 1

Location:

Solution:

Havarl Monolith 2 (Necessary to correct Havarl's Environment)

Location:

Solution:

Voeld Monolith 1

Location:

Solution:

Voeld Monolith 2 (Part of Peebee's Secret Project Side Quest)

Location:

Solution:

Voeld Monolith 3

Location:

Solution:

Voeld Monolith 3 ( 2 of the 3 glyphs for this one are located outside and above the Ice Cave)

Location:

Solution: