In 1993,two brothers Robyn and Rand Miller released a game onto the world,that would be respected and perceived as one of the best “drag and click”adventure titles to date. In its design and conception,the brothers grew up reading and becoming heavily inspired by the great fantasy writers of our age.Tolkien’s fabulous novels in Middle Earth fused with Jules Verne’s “Mysterious Island”.A story about a group marooned on an eerie island and CS Lewis’s “The Magicians Nephew”.A story of magically travelling between worlds.The games core and heart though can be best described by brother Rand in an interview..”We’re not game designers; we were place designers, so we just started drawing maps, and the maps kind of fueled the story.”
The game is MYST of course,and described by its creators as an adult type adventure game designed to be fully accessible to all.
Some 27 years since,the game has sold a staggering 40 Million copies worldwide, across multiple platforms,and in 2020. MYST is now once again reborn on current gen systems with a new graphical overhaul and gameplay tweaks.
Now titled as “realMYST:Masterpiece Edition”.
What’s clear from startup,is that developer Cyan Worlds have done a great job in bringing realMyst to the Nintendo Switch. The sea is crystal clear.Shimmers handsomely in the sunlight,and laps and ripples realistically as you stand and pan around the island.
Ahead,you can see the stone staircase leading up and left to what appears to be giant cogs on a raised coastface.
From here on,you start to get to grips with the controls.Left joycon to move forward and right to move camera as you walk across the jetty of a wooded dock until you see the first,of what is many,levered switches.
Moving the actual levered switch is the first predicament you face in what appears to be a fiddly control system.Not a standard button press to activate the switch but right trigger to set the hand pointer to activate,then hold right trigger and right joycon up,to lift the lever!
It’s awkward and a bit odd but I’m guessing it’s playing to add a bit of realism,rather than one button press activation.
The island is clearly open for exploration and it’s clear you can pretty much do things at will and whichever way you want.
There is a path leading up and through the centre of the island,and on this path you can stop and pretty much scan the entire island from here.
There’s a clock tower based away from the island and on rocks in the sea. A levered switch on the cliff edge maybe opens a platform and bridge to get to it perhaps?
To the east,lies a pathway that runs towards a massive docked rocket ship! Reminiscent of 50’s sci-fi design,this image immediately pulls at the inner geek inside,but yet again the levered switch activation point is there,yet with pulling the lever seemingly doing nothing,how do you get into the ship?
Surrounding you are a number of circular buildings.A library can be explored,and books can be pulled off the shelves and read often and at leisure,and it’s here that you can hunt for clues as to why you’re here.Background stories from previous inhabitants but most importantly,clues to the many riddles,conundrums and puzzles that freely lie around every building and area on the island.
There’s an observatory.complete with a dentist type chair and a star-map roof requiring you to enter a date. A staircase winding down to an engine room air pressure puzzle and plenty of secret rooms within rooms that require solving the clues.
What’s clear is that there is no death for the player.You can casually mess about with the puzzles as often as you like and not fear a penalty or fear getting locked out/in. Everything is clearly symbolic and requires visible and audible assessments and working out in order to solve and progress. No inventory to take “green key to green door” or be bogged down with multiple items or most importantly,getting stumped by illogical and impractical puzzle solutions.
Everything here is casual,sedate and every puzzle is logical,intelligent and well thought out.
Graphically,the extra polish is welcome and adds a modern touch to the game.The scenery is inviting and holds a pleasant ambience and the nice touches like the FMV sequences inside the library books are really impressive (It’s Robyn and Rand talking!)
Audibly,there is music playing for certain rooms but a word of caution,is that in order to get the most from the audio here.You will need earphones! There is no option for subtitles,and considering some clues HAVE to be heard in order to solve certain puzzles.Its a little setback but by no means a game changer.
Controls wise and gameplay.There’s sensitivity options to calm down the overly light joycon default setting and gameplay is smooth with everything running well,as you would expect from the time spent improving and the age of the original game.
RealMYST is a gem of an old title,requiring observational skills and clue finding/solving to conquer its many symbolic and mystic puzzles littered around the island. Like the Tardis,the island appears very small,and yet delve deeper and get inside of it,and that island suddenly gets bigger and opens up more areas and even more worlds!
There’s an impressive 40+ hours of gameplay here.Covering a good wealth of content through it,there’s just one thing that’s clearly paramount and above the graphics,gameplay and everything else…it’s the experience!
Myst-erious,Myst-ical and once visited you look forward to keep going back and finding and discovering more….
It’s a gem,a classic and without this in your library…an opportunity Myst!
Thanks to Cyan Worlds for the code
I spent a fair few hours with Myst last night, and honestly I couldn’t get along with it. Maybe my inexperience with point/click adventures is showing here, but I barely managed to find my way around!
Thanks to the hints in the menu I picked up on a few audio clues which I had missed due to there being no subtitles. I was playing with earphones, but due to my hearing issues at the moment I just couldn’t catch them so it broke the experience somewhat for me. I did muscle through, and had a walk around two of the ages in-game, but found myself getting increasingly frustrated with sound elements.
I noticed the game actually had a hint specifically for those with colour-blindness, that was a nice touch!
For the controls, you mentioned that the joycon controls had sensitivity, but not the touch option? I nudged the screen by accident at one point and was given the touch option, I found that was a little more intuitive than the sticks for controlling levers and the like.
All in all, with the graphics being great for a title with history like this, I wouldn’t have rated so highly, maybe a 5? I would remain neutral mostly as I couldn’t experience some parts of the game so easily, a subtitle option would definitely be a benefit for me. There’s a lot of polish, I just feel more could have been done on the accessibility side, beyond adding a comprehensive hints list.