Game On: ‘Myst’, one of the most important games in history, was remade locally in 2021

I find it weird to talk about a game that hit the shelves in 1993 when I was born a year later, but “Myst” was one of the few games my parents installed on our older Mac OS 9 computer until it finally broke down in the early 2000s. Even then, the graphics surprised me: most 3D video games still seemed pretty blocked, while the worlds of “Myst” were approaching photorealism.

The legendary independent game development team in the Spokane area, Cyan Inc., got it because “Myst” used pre-rendered environments. Remember that Pixar’s “Toy Story” hit theaters in 1995 and looked amazing for the time; this is because it represented scenes with a large number of polygons on very sturdy computers, and then took snapshots of the scenes that were represented frame by frame until they had a movie. .

Video games that use pre-rendered graphics, including “Myst”, achieve their amazing look using similar techniques. The downside to doing this is that the environments are technically 2D on your own screen. Whatever perspective Mead’s Cyan offers you, you’re trapped – you can’t walk freely and smoothly through its worlds.

To his credit, Cyan did a fantastic job giving players the feel of real-time motion through scrolling effects and capturing things from many angles. Here comes Cyan’s Myst remake in 2021 – it’s the same game the world knows and loves, but it’s played in real time.

The graphics are better than ever, and if you have a virtual reality headset, you can explore them that way too. Cyan’s greatest strength and most unique trait as a game developer has always been his ability to create strange but immersive worlds, so RV is a shoe. The only problem with virtual reality here isn’t the technology, it’s that the progression to “Myst” can take a long time and wearing headphones for hours and hours isn’t exactly enjoyable.

Slow progress is a peculiarity of “Myst,” but it’s not entirely unpleasant. The story begins with you, “the stranger,” opening a book and taking you to Myst Island. In this series, books can act as receptacles and portals for alien realms. Playing from a first-person perspective, you may go freely around the island discovering curiosities and books as you go.

There are no enemies or fights to speak of, no survival mechanics, no time limit. It is only you who travels through strange realms. “Myst” has always instilled in me a palpable feeling of loneliness and curiosity. Combined with a dreamy, heavy soundtrack of synthesizers, just send pleasant warm-ups intermittently down your spine if you let yourself be immersed.

The original “Myst” pioneered environmental storytelling in games. Currently, most titles use non-interactive cut scenes between game segments, but in “Myst” stories, character rhythms, and worlds are discovered through the environment itself. By beating puzzles, you not only progress in the game, but also solve mysteries along the way. It was emblematic in 1993 and is still relatively rare today.

While the game is a timeless masterpiece and an important part of video game history, “Myst” is not for everyone. Few children can enjoy it; the original was Cyan’s first adult-targeted video game, and that hasn’t changed. In addition, adults who possess great observation skills and enjoy abstract puzzles and a slow-recording story will find satisfaction in playing “Myst.”

A pen and paper won’t hurt either; some of the puzzles are really that complex.

Despite its supposedly limited appeal, “Myst” was the best-selling PC game of 1993-02 before being overthrown by “The Sims.” It was also brought to almost every gaming console capable of running it, including bugs like the Atari Jaguar CD and the Philips CD-i.

“Myst” spawned several sequels, all sold millions. With this complete remastering proving that “Myst” needed little more than a new coat of paint to modernize, I hope Cyan can give the same treatment to his “Riven” sequel. And, as someone who enjoys exploring their worlds without the stress of unraveling mind-boggling puzzles, I hope they find the time to revisit “The Opening” and “Cosmo Osmo”.

“Myst” started as an Oculus Quest exclusive in December before being available on August 26 for $ 30 on PC, MacOS and Xbox platforms. It can now also be played for free for Xbox Game Pass subscribers.

Riordan Zentler can be contacted at riordanzentler@gmail.com.

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