There are some games that just will not die. One of them is “Myst”, which is coming up on being twenty years old (there are about a million people reading this, right now, who flinched at those words). In fact, it’s managed to outlive the companies that first distributed it: Broderbund has been dead for more than a decade, Psygnosis is little more than a shell of itself…and “Myst” is still going strong.
In fact, it’s actually in the process of coming to modern consoles. A port of the kinda terrible PSOne release has just hit the PlayStation Network for six bucks, and Myst is actually hitting the 3DS in July.
Not bad for a game made with, and we’re not kidding on this one, HyperCard.
“Myst” has definite flaws. The load times take forever, the music and sound is terrible, the acting is thankfully sparse, the graphics have quite a few visual cliches even for the time, the controls were even worse especially for the time, the pacing demands patience, and the story is hippy-dippy nonsense.
The gameplay, on the other hand, could actually stand to be imitated more often, regardless of genre.
#5) It Demands You Pay Attention
Basically, you’re not going to leave the Age you start the game stranded in unless you look around, take a few notes, and think about what the game’s showing you. The puzzles are heavily dependent on observing your surroundings, and applying what you see to puzzles you run into later.
True, some of the best games do this, or at least demand that you explore enough to make your life easier, but it’s rarely tightly integrated into the gameplay and more of a cookie offered to gamers who take their time.
#4) It Doesn’t Demand You Solve Puzzles In a Particular Order
Myst was the first game to anticipate the “hub” structure we see everywhere now: there was the central level that you poked around in and solved puzzles in to unlock new areas, and those areas could be accessed in any order. Way too many games make the hub a lot more regimented than it needs to be, and don’t really reward exploring the hub as much as they should.
#3) It Lets The Player Take the Lead
Just as importantly, the player figures out where to go and what to do first. Again, too often in modern games you’re pushed into one direction or the other, whether through overly linear level design, or just a refusal to think of how some gamers may want to solve a particular problem. It’s a little sad that a game from the SNES era made for a few thousand bucks is in some ways more dynamic and engaging than games that cost millions of dollars and have supercomputers behind them.