Myst lives again in all its glory

Posted: May 3, 2009 in Adventure

Back in the day when I was just a little gamer, Myst was the best-selling game of all time, so it’s no surprise that the iTunes adaptation adheres to the tradition of the original with a few enhancements for the iPhone/iPod Touch platform. Myst is a first-person interactive puzzle game that allows you to travel, explore and immerse yourself in a variety of detailed environments.

The story involves two missing brothers Sirrus and Achenar who both claim the other brother has killed him. You play the role of the Stranger, who uses a special book to travel to the island of Myst. As the Stranger, you use other special books written by Atrus, the father of Sirrus and Achenar, to travel to several worlds known as Ages. The four Ages are Selenitic, Stoneship, Mechanical, and Channelwood, and through clues found in each of these Ages, you gradually learn the sordid history of the game’s characters.

Myst is mostly done through a series of static images intermixed to a lesser extent with animation and video clips that you discover along your journey. No directions or map are included in Myst so basically you make this game what it is. Throughout Myst, you interact with numerous objects, activate switches, and read notes and books. When I mention videos, there are clips located throughout the game that don’t make sense individually, but as with most of the puzzles, they are all interrelated. Your primary objective is to locate four books which link to the different worlds where you then look for other pages that will clear up the mystery of the missing brothers. There is no time limit or imminent danger, although depending on your choices, the game has several outcomes that may not be in the best interest of the Stranger.

You tap where you want to travel, pick up or access things, and the sound effects artfully convey enough of the eeriness and loneliness of the island. To get the full effect, I would suggest using headphones. The only menu item is the Option Icon in the lower right-hand corner. Under Options, up to four bookmarks/games can be saved as well as adjust the static screen transition speed and sound. The Zip feature enables you to instantly travel to previously viewed locations, which is both an advantage and disadvantage. Faster travel is great, but also raises the risk for missing important clues. Also helpful is a Hints button leading to a Web site that offers various tips. If you don’t save or are interrupted, the game will automatically start at the last location you visited.

For many of you, it’s likely that this is the first time you even heard of Myst. As with point-and-click interactive adventure games, Myst is a game best measured by the experience rather than the number of hours of gameplay. If you like heavy action, or prefer a structured approach to gaming, Myst is not for you. If you are on the fence about Myst, I would suggest you try another interactive adventure, Dream Chronicles, which offers a more of structured and guided approach. On the other hand, Myst is unstructured and more non linear in some respects so you have more freedom with your options and decisions. On that note, the memory footprint for Myst is significant so make sure you have enough room before you attempt to download. The download time on my DSL line took 80 minutes (15 minutes on cable) and required that I clear out memory on my device (I had 10gb of available space but still needed to delete items which I added back later).

One of the great things that the iPhone/iPod Touch platform has done is bring back many of the games from the past to today’s generation. Even with the advances in gaming over the past two decades since its initial release, Myst still holds its own against the big games of today.

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