Myst Review

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Myst landing on Xbox Game Pass at launch is perhaps a bigger deal to those who grew up during the ‘90s than to modern gamers who are probably wondering what all the fuss is about. This release is based on the VR version of the title, but ported to Xbox with a more traditional control scheme. The basic visual facelift and design are intact, and while the VR version is certainly an immersive venture for those who have the means, the controller-input alternative still gets the core experience right enough. 

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More than a console port of a VR game, this Myst is actually a full-fledged remake of the 1993 seminal classic on PC, which was then ported to several home consoles such as the original PlayStation and SEGA Saturn. The early ‘90s were a pivotal time in gaming, and the original Myst was certainly a pioneering title as a puzzle adventure title, as players clicked through a vibrant world presented as pre-rendered images with interactive portions. More than just being on the cutting edge of visuals and graphics, Myst gave players an immersive and surrealist game world to explore, one filled with taxing yet rewarding puzzles to solve, and a great deal of mystery to uncover in relation to the lore. 

Myst would go on to have five mainline sequels, most notably Myst III: Exile which appeared on the original Xbox, and then later the same platform would host the only console release of Myst IV: Revelation. Myst, Microsoft, and Xbox all go hand in hand, and so having a remake of the original Myst launch on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and through Game Pass feels like a homecoming in many ways. Whether you are a returning fan or a curious newcomer, this is a release worth experiencing firsthand. Although the genre has grown and evolved since 1993 with multiple puzzle adventure titles from numerous developers all over the world, there is something still remarkably unique about Myst. 

After a vague metaphysical introduction, players immediately find themselves on an island without much context or setup. After five entries, the world and lore of Myst is hardly a mystery anymore, especially to its long-time fans, but to the completely uninitiated the initial setup can be both vague and daunting. Yet, this is exactly what made the 1993 release such a landmark in the first, because it was a puzzle game that went beyond just testing memory and logic, as it went above and beyond to create a genuine mystery which players had to piece together.

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There is a name for the shared Myst universe, there is even a name for the protagonist and the other moving parts which make up a world that is science fiction and fantasy magic all wrapped into one surrealist presentation. More than figuring out solutions to seemingly obtuse puzzles, players must first really immerse themselves into the game world and make an effort to become part of it. This means paying attention to the finer details within the surroundings, and picking up on pieces of lore through tomes. The process of learning about the setting and lore is what allows players to stumble into eureka moments as they finally figure out a seemingly out of place puzzle. The core puzzle design is kept from the original, which might be fun for veterans who wish to jog down memory lane and challenge their memory, but there is also a mode which changes up the puzzles for those after something fresh. 

The original Myst games were known for their stunning use of pre-rendered 3D images, but gradually as time went on the games embraced more real-time 3D, and instead of clicking through still-life images, players were slowly able to have more control in their movement. Myst V: End of Ages in particular embraced more free form 3D whilst still maintaining some measure of the series’ point and click conventions. 

Myst on Xbox is a fully 3D game, all environments are rendered in real time and movement is fully 3D akin to a first-person walking simulator. Players are able to move and look around freely, and the dynamic environments have more depth. Perhaps to a gamer in 1993 this would be a great idea on paper, but most fans will probably find the 3D first person control scheme to be largely impractical in execution. Given the intricacies of some of the puzzles, the functional simplicity of the point and click is sorely missed, as simply looking at the right object in order to interact with it gets rather tedious quickly.

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In the process of revamping the gameplay and graphics, the artistic charm of the original Myst is completely lost here, as this looks like an ordinary 3D game as the remade 3D graphics are simply functional at best. Granted, these graphics probably would have done the trick in the original VR version, but as a standard console experience there really isn’t much to catch the eye, and the artistic surrealism of Myst is lost in the process too. What still holds up about the presentation is the stunning orchestral score, as the soundtrack of the Myst series was one of the reasons why those games became so legendary.

Myst on Xbox is far from being the definitive version of the game, as in the process of modernising the graphical and visual presentation, it loses much of the artistic charm of the original 1993 classic. It’s certainly nice to have full 3D movement, but even then, the experience lacks the functionality of the original point and click control scheme. While it’s great to see a fully remade 3D rendition of a puzzle adventure classic for a new audience, the experience feels removed from the unmatched 1993 original. 

Experience the power of Myst from the Xbox Store

Jahanzeb Khan
Jahanzeb Khan
https://virtuamuserredux.blogspot.com/ A PlayStation fan for most of his childhood, once he picked up an Xbox with Panzer Dragoon Orta he never looked back.
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