There are many reasons to love Myst, not least of which is that there is hardly any mist in the game. Myst, I presume, is short for “Mystery,” because you’re trying to solve one during the game. You begin life on a strange, mysterious island that is full of strange, mysterious contraptions and surprisingly devoid of people. Your job is to visit each of these contraptions, learn how they work, make them work in concert with each other, and get yourself teleported off this rock.
Adventure purists probably are fuming that a video game about a mysterious island made the list, but Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel Mysterious Island did not. As if Jules Verne doesn’t get enough respect or something. Nevertheless, Myst is a groundbreaking piece of work, that actually relies on the power of your brain rather than the speed of your thumbs.
The interface was so simple as to be pure genius. You point at something. You click. Either something happens or not. There is no inventory to collect, no experience points to earn, no ammo rounds to keep track of. You do not have to worry about dodging Goombas and Koopas and Dodongos. Your only weapon is logic.
This kind of simplistic gameplay put more focus on story and atmosphere, and it is indeed an enthralling environment. The machines and puzzles are very Mission: Impossible meets steampunk, with a little magic thrown in for good measure. But everything is relentlessly logical. Once you’ve got it all figured out, you know how the island functions, and that puts you two steps ahead of LOST’s creative team.
The only downside is, it’s not much for replayability (unless you’ve been away from the game for 10 years and forgotten how it works). Now that I know how to operate the spinning dome, it’s not much fun for me to sit there clicking levers. But on the first time through, it’s completely obsorbing.
There’s a version of Myst for iPhone now, which blows me away, since I remember when it required 48 CD-ROMS and an NSA supercomputer to run. It’s sequel, Riven, is even more awesome, and I highly recommend the entire series. It’s way better than that Jules Verne crap.
Next up, #64…