I remember the first video game I was ever obsessed with. I can’t remember how old I was when I first attempted to play it, but I remember it drove me INSANE. After a few years of poking around at it and ditching it because I was so frustrated, I finally gave in and bought a strategy guide. (This was before those were posted all over the internets, FYI.) And it was only in solving it that I realized its brilliant complexity.
I’m talking, of course, about Myst.
“ZOMG IT’S A POINT-AND-CLICK GAME, IT’S SO STUPID!!” “Oh geez, I finished that game in like, two hours when I was 12 years old. You’re a wuss!” Well, you can shut it, because this game is awesome and I don’t care what you say. The storyline, the visuals, the music, the mind-bending puzzles (oh my God, that tower of rotation made me want to throw bricks)…it’s all here. And until The Sims came along, it was the number-one selling PC game of all time.
The storyline is what hooked me. I’m a sucker for a good family drama, and it doesn’t get any worse than this. Especially as it expands throughout the four (!) sequels. In Myst, you arrive on this island with no recollection of how you got there, and you’re alone. Totally, completely alone. Except for two brothers, each trapped in a book in the library. Both are skeezy and untrustworthy, but you have no choice but to do what they say because what else are you gonna do while you’re stuck on an island all by yourself with no way out?
Then you meet Atrus. And the rest is effing history.
I’ve only played the first three games in the series (Myst, Riven, and Exile) but they never fail to leave me breathless. Myst with its epic loneliness, Riven with its sad state of decay, and Exile with its oh-my-god-villain-dude-you-are-freaking-me-out-right-now. And oh, I can’t tell you how badly I wish they’d release a version of Myst that’s compatible with Windows 7, seeing as you have to do a whole lot of tweaking and messing around to get Myst: Masterpiece Edition to work, and the 3D attempt realMyst came out all the way back in 2000. It’s available on the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad as an app, but I can’t imagine that the experience is the same (especially on the iPhone/iPod Touch’s smaller screen).
If you’ve yet to play Myst, you should. If you’ve played it in the past, you should go back and play it again. Want more of the storyline? There’s even a series of companion novels. Frustrated with where to go next, or just want to sit back and relive the mystery? Here you go: one, two, three, four, five.
In an age where first-person shooters and MMORPGs reign supreme, Myst is a serene and solitary trip back to a time of outwardly simple but internally mind-bending adventure games, where you had nothing else to rely on but your own mind.