Myst was one of those computer games you either loved or hated, with very few gamers in between. Originally released for the Macintosh in 1993 (and later ported over to a number of computer and gaming systems), it was one of the earliest CD-ROM games (yes, I linked that term for the kiddies), taking advantage of and, to some degree, showing off that technology. Over 15 years later, that same tech truly shows its years, but there’s still something to this once best-selling PC game of all time (up until The Sims) — a sense of nostalgia you can’t quite put your finger on. Is it somewhere you’ve been before?
Those who hated Myst typically gripe about its lack of real-time motion or opponents to fight, completely missing the point. Others found the puzzles (central to advancing in the game) too difficult, particularly when, even at the beginning, you’re thrown into its world with no spoonfed objective or tools. There will always be gamers who cannot conceive of a game being worthy of applause unless there are gallons of digital blood to wade through or plenty of easily-found pointers to guide you merrily and effortlessly along the way. Myst affords you neither.
It is, in essence, an immersive story wrapped up in a world (comprised of “ages”) both surreal and certain, beautiful and somewhat strange, and not without an array of challenging puzzles — all of which, adding to the story while they push the player forward to one of a few possible endings. (More background available at the game’s Wikipedia page.)
May of 2009 saw the porting of this game to the iPhone. And it is, with some minor tweaks, a faithfully direct port. From that haunting introduction from Atrus, the lead character of Myst, to the arrival at Myst Island, it loses none of its luster being on a smaller screen. In fact, a game like Myst makes perfect sense for the iPhone, with its tap and swipe gestures being the perfect navigation through the Ages. The original music is still here as well — a soundtrack I actually purchased on that ancient format called compact disc sometime early this decade, along with the ones for the next two games (Riven and Myst III: Exile) in the series. I could make a separate post on those soundtracks alone, but I’ll merely say that they come highly recommended and move on.
Game options include adjustments for scene transitions and volume, four bookmarking slots, and a few other settings, including webpage links leading to help and hints pages provided by game-maker, Cyan. Though, it might have been nice to have some sort of notation feature within the app. Being on a portable device, it’s often a bit impractical to be carrying around bits of paper everywhere with scribbled clues and maps, and there definitely are bits of information to keep track of for future use. But, I suppose quitting the app and going back and forth from the iPhone’s Notes app will have to do.
But, that’s all that I can really fault it for. Myst for iPhone loses nothing in the translation to this smaller and transportable form. Were I to get metaphorical on you for a sentence, it might be feasible to say that the device itself is similar to the Linking Books in the game, bringing you back once again through that starry abyss and into a rock-solid classic game. Recommended.