Immerse yourself in a stunningly beautiful world with challenging puzzles and captivating visual storytelling.
I remember playing MYST as a kid back in the nineties. I don’t think I ever completed it – in fact, I don’t think I came anywhere near – but I do remember it being one of the most visually compelling games on Windows 95.
Fast-forward thirty years and imagine my delight to find that the game has been re-released on the Oculus Quest in 360-degree virtual reality.
There is no backstory – you begin the game stranded on the island of Myst and wander around searching for clues and solving puzzles to uncover the mysteries of the isle.
The puzzle difficulty varies from easy to quite challenging and there are a few red herrings thrown in to divert you from your path. As you solve more puzzles, your discover more about the sinister history of the island’s inhabitants.
Breathtaking and Mesmerising
MYST has lost none of its previous beauty and allure. One of the things I loved about playing this game back in the day was the innovative and sublime environment through which the protagonist travels. It is no exaggeration to say that whilst playing on the Oculus, I would just stand still and take in the amazing scenery for minutes at a time.
The vivid graphics have great attention to detail and are complemented by subtle environmental audio, such as the waves lapping against the shore to provide a complete sensory experience. Combined with the narrative, this makes for beautiful, immersive and sometimes relaxing gameplay.
MYST is a point-and-click adventure game with a few additional virtual reality features – for example, using the ‘grab’ function to pull a lever or climb a ladder.
You wander around the island by pointing the controller to where you wish to go and pressing forward on the control stick. You can spin around on the spot to change the way you are facing by flicking left and right on the control stick. To interact with something in your environment, you use the controller’s triggers.
Whether going forward or spinning, movement is not smooth or continuous. You will sort of jerk from your starting position to the where you wish to go, which takes a little getting used to but this is not uncommon in VR games.
You can also adjust your height by pressing one of the buttons – handy when you switch from a standing position to a sitting position and vice versa. However, I did find myself sometimes having to over-reach to interact with the environment when seated.
Playing the game comprises exploration and puzzle-solving. There is little risk of dying in the game, however, it is not impossible to be killed as some reviewers claim – I found at least 3 ways to reach a premature end.
Limited replay value
Although you may spend a lot of time in the game working out the puzzles and figuring out what to do next, the game itself by comparison is quite short. I completed it in about 20 hours.
Once you have completed MYST, there is little else to do – you have already solved the puzzles, so they are no longer challenging and you have uncovered the truth of the island, so the story is no longer intriguing.
As previously stated, the scenery is amazing, so you may wish to just have a wander around and enjoy the panorama again. There is also an option to replay the game with the answers to the puzzles randomized, which will have limited appeal. Really, all this does is change the letters/numbers/patterns etc. from the default so that you cannot simply look them up online.
The world of MYST is a wondrous place and I enjoyed wandering around and looking at the scenery. I like a good puzzle, so I enjoyed solving them – and with each puzzle being different, there was plenty of variety. The storyline is entertaining enough, however, the game is simply too short to pack in a lot of plot and once you reach the conclusion, it’s unlikely that you will be returning anytime soon.
I expect I will revisit the game again in the far future (several years) to enjoy the appeal again, however, you should be prepared for the fact that once you reach the end, the experience is over for the time being.
Having said that, MYST is definitely fantastic value for money if you enjoy exploration and mental workouts.