Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Myst


Myst is an interesting game in that it kind of throws you into the middle of things without much fanfare or explanation.  There's a short intro video, then BAM!, you're in the game.  In some ways, this gives you a lot of freedom, as your player character could really be anybody.  You could be playing Batman, for all you know.  It also lets you discover things slowly instead of being hit over the head with the setting.  Did I like this interesting execution?  Let's find out.


As I said, there's not much of a story to Myst... when you start out.  You're transported to the Isle of Myst through a book and you have to try and discover its mysteries with little to no instruction.  "Why am I doing this?"  I thought quite a bit while playing this game.  The answer was always: "I don't really know, but it's kinda fun."  

Through your explorations of the isle, you come across two very interesting books.  In them are little screens that two brothers speak to you from.  The brother in the red book, Sirrus, says that he's been wrongfully imprisoned and begs you to find red pages in your journeys to set him free.  Achenar, the brother in the blue book, also claims that he doesn't deserve to be trapped and wants you to bring the blue pages to him.  It's an interesting mechanic that forces you to decide which one of these guys you're going to trust even though, at first, you know nothing about them.  

The end of the story?  I won't spoil it, but I have to complain that it was terribly anti-climactic.  Perhaps the next Myst game remedies this a bit, but on its own, the ending gave no closure.


Gameplay in Myst is a familiar thing if you've played any Nancy Drew adventure games.  First person, click to move, interact with the environment and all that good stuff.  Unlike Nancy Drew, however, there's no inventory at all in Myst, meaning that every puzzle is environment based.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I did kind of get tired seeing a blue/red page in the cursor for such a long period of time.  I was always afraid that I was going to lose it somehow.  

Now, a word about the puzzles.  Obviously, they're a huge part of the game, but for me, they were often too difficult.  A note to game developers: if you have to put in an in-game hint/solution system, like the one in Myst, it's a hint that the puzzles are too obscure.  Sure, there were some things that I figured out just fine on my own, but some were just ridiculous. You'll have to take lots of notes to solve these puzzles, as well as keeping an open ear.  A surprising amount of puzzles were sound-based, which was interesting, if not always well executed.  



Myst is considered one of the greatest adventuring games of all time, so obviously I had to give it a try. Was it an intriguing system?  Yes.  Were some of the puzzles well done?  Yes.  Was the setting beautiful?  Yes.  

Still, the frustrating puzzles outweigh the well-done ones, and between that and the ending, I don't think Myst will ever be a huge favorite of mine.  Unless someone's made a mod that lets you play Batman.

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