The market for graphic puzzle games has always been robust; with new versions like The Witness or the award winning Portal series challenging players for years to come.
Today, however, I’d like to write about the one that kept me up for days in the 90s – the one that, when I completed, was a huge accomplishment in my young life.
Sure, there are a number of these games that came out before – King’s Quest, Murder on the Mississippi, Uninvited, heck, even the Leisure Suit Larry Series.
But none of these were quite as immersive as Myst.
By today’s standards, Myst’s gameplay is quaint – using the simple “point-and-click” method of having the player look at the 3D environment, move his or her mouse to an area they want to explore, and simply click on that area. Your scene then fades to another scene where you can search for clues, solve a puzzle, or simply examine the environment.
This, however, is countered by puzzles that could take hours or days to figure out.
You, the player, take the role of “the stranger” who has been transported to the mysterious world of Myst after touching a page from a book with the same name. Once there, you are thrust in the middle of a full-blown mystery involving the murder of Atrus by one of his sons – either Sirrus or Achenar.
The clues to this murder mystery can be found in a series of pages that can only be acquired by solving complex, mechanical puzzles around the island and on accompanying worlds or “Ages.”
This game was developed by the brothers as an adult version of the children’s games they were producing – far more challenging, but based on the simplistic puzzles and themes found throughout their existing catalogue.
They then spent over two years of their time focusing on creating the world – at first assuming a more simplistic world but quickly realizing that they could make the environment far more detailed world with height, depth and little tweaks in the texture mapping.
However, the bulk of their development time was spent meticulously creating the now famous puzzles – puzzles that drove me crazy, yet gave me a wonderful thrill when finally solved. This, along with the detailed environments, truly sucked you in to this world.
Another interesting feature of Myst was the fact it was non-violent for the player – there weren’t any enemies that would dish out hits and there was no life-system that ran out. The player simply explored the world and tried to solve the puzzles. This actually worked for the game on two levels; one, without any “game over” screens you lost track of time and two, without enemies the world’s solitude really sinks in.
Myst eventually became such a hit it spawned a number of sequels (selling millions of copies worldwide), books and is slated for a Hulu series. Not bad for a game developed by two dudes…
So, if you have a monumental amount of time and a drive to solve some puzzles, I highly recommend checking out the Myst series.
Until next time!