I’m not a fan of most computer games. I have had enough violence and racing in my life to not want to invite it in through games of violence, war, racing, chasing, or bashing in heads. Among my favorite computer games are Myst and its sequels, Exile, Riven, The Revelation, and Uru, created by Cyan Worlds.
Myst and its sequels are beautiful mind games, challenging the best in us through complex puzzles accompanied by phenomenal real-life graphics. My husband and I would play these together, discussing strategies and solving the problems over meals and long drives. We’d email or instant message chat back and forth things to try or experiment with to solve the puzzles. They took our minds other places while we were in places and dealing with things we didn’t want to deal with. Great distractions, but more than that – great mind teasers.
We’ve been searching for Myst replacements for years on our desktop computers without success. With the new drive in mobile games for cell phones and tablets, we felt confident that the need for Myst-like brain games would generate something. After several years of poking, we’ve found some possibilities. Unfortunately, most of these are more like pretty maze games rather than mind-benders.
I used to think there was a difference between a Myst-like problem-solving game and a simple hidden object adventure game. As the games improve their visual quality, the simple games of finding hidden objects to solve puzzles can become as interesting as Myst-problem-solving games that require a little more brain power. I’ve included some well-reviewed hidden object games in the list below accordingly.
To be true to the concept of a Myst game, I believe the game should put you in the key role of the player, giving you a vested interest in solving the puzzles. There should be little interaction with other characters, just you and the environment, where the pieces of the puzzle tell more of the story than the characters could. The puzzles should make you think, fuss over, and experiment with before solving, but not be too simple nor too inane. You should shout with joy when you figure them out, not groan. This is where many of the new games miss the mark. I rarely have the overwhelming impulse to jump up and down and shout, “I did it!” Or do I experience the water-cooler effect praising the game long after finishing the play.
It’s sad because we need this form of escapism today more than ever.
Reedu by Nomuda Games has been well reviewed by many as a good Myst-like game except for the “gory” parts, as one reviewer described.
According to the official description:
…We can say that what starts out as a journey through a dangerous land of aggressive plant life – which may or may not house your only true friend- quickly spirals into a far-reaching intergalactic and inter-dimensional adventure drawing into it notions of time, space, mythology, and science.
This is not a simple exercise in shoot-‘em-up gore without substance. Bubbling underneath the surface of the textured netherworlds is a story that delves past the superficial and into what may be considered philosophical (we’re not Descartes, but humor us for a moment). At the very least Reedu: The First Explorer will give you ample amounts of moments to debate with friends and strangers. What can we say? Space-time…it’s a tricky thing. You never know what will pop up. Just ask Charlton Heston and those damn dirty apes.
Reedu was released as a sequel of episodes. Episode One: The First Explorer was released in early 2011. Unfortunately, the Nomuda official blog has had no new updates since October and their Twitter account has been dormant for about as long, even though announcements were that a new episode would be out the first of the year. Reviews of Reedu were hopeful but not good. We’ve glanced at it and decided that the shoot ’em up aspect of the game didn’t make it worth our time, especially as we don’t know when the next episode will be released.
The Lost City
The Lost City by Fire Maple Games is a beautifully rendered visual experience with lovely music and sounds, but the game is not designed for intelligent adults. the developers of The Lost City, Mahjong Forests, The Great International Word Search!, Sunken Words, and Fire Maple Games!. Most of their games are word-based games but Lost City and Grisly Manor are testimonies to their potential as developers of Myst-like games, but they lack the true brain-bender experiences of Myst.
It’s a maze game, wandering through lovely landscapes and beautiful scenery to solve incredibly simple problems to gain access to new areas to explore. Most of the time is spent moving around back and forth and repeating your virtual footsteps, solving a problem in one part of the landscape then backtracking to put the next piece into the puzzle at the opposite end.
My husband lost interest within a few minutes. I kept on out of sheer determination to find something intelligent and mind-testing in the game. I didn’t find anything, and my fingers were in pain within 20 minutes of the back and forth navigation. The idea of being able to change the environment visually by switching seasons is a lovely graphic effect, making some things passable by freezing the water between you and your destination, finding blooming flowers, hiding things with snow, was a beautiful effect, which unfortunately led to more racing through the environment to get to the season-changing buttons.
Still, it’s a step in the right direction. It’s perfect for game novices and young people just wanting to explore and waste some time and not challenge their intellect. It’s also a game that is easy to complete, this qualifies.
The Secret of Grisly Manor
The Secret of Grisly Manor sets you on a mission by your uncle to explore his mansion home for clues and solve the puzzles to find out what happened to the missing uncle. By Fire Maple Games, the reviews are all over the place on Amazon, spread almost equally among the five star rating system. In general, they state low re-play value, too short, not very challenging, but visually beautiful and well constructed. All love the graphics.
Like “The Lost City,” it is another beautifully graphic visual game without much in the brain-challenging department. There is a lot of wandering around and moving back and forth over already traveled territory to put all the pieces together, but it amuses for a while. Especially good for novices and younger people.
Other Myst-like Games for Android
The following are Myst and Riven style games for the Android that we haven’t explored yet. I’d love your feedback on these if you have played them.
- Azada: Trapped in a haunted room, you must help release Titus from the magical spell and solve puzzles and fill in missing pages to an enchanted book. Google Play, Big Fish Games (direct)
- Infernus: Amazon.com,
- Forgotten Places – Lost Circus: Play youth detective and solve the mysteries of the nightmares Joy has about a circus. Amazon.com,
- The Treasure of Mystery Island: Parachuting onto an uncharted island, this is a lost treasure hunt. Amazon.com, Google Play
- Pirate Mysteries: A mysterious tale of monkeys, masks, and hidden objects on a deserted island. Amazon.com, Google Play
- Magician’s Handbook: Cursed Valley: Using the Magician’s Handbook, you search through the Cursed Valley to find hidden objects and solve mysteries. Amazon.com, Google Play
- Dream Sleuth: Catherine has strange dreams and turns into a young sleuth to solve the puzzles to discover the secret behind a kidnapping crime. Amazon.com, Google Play
- The Mystery Of The Crystal Portal: A journalist has to solve the riddle of what happened to her archaeologist father lost after making a discovery that could change “the course of humanity” in this hidden object adventure. Amazon.com, Google Play
How to Play Myst on Your Android Phone
If you are tech-savvy, here are some solutions for playing Myst, Riven, and others on your Android phone. Note that rooting may be involved.
- How to play Myst on an Android phone – Allocosm
- The Iso Zone Forums • View topic – Play Myst, Riven, and other P&C with ScummVM on DROID!
Why Aren’t There More Myst-like Games on Mobile?
While I’m still puzzled over why there aren’t more Myst-like games on desktops, the puzzle of why they aren’t on mobile is fairly obvious. The computer processing power to manage the high resolution motion graphics is demanding. Processors and server space are improving but we are still pushing them to get a realistic experience.
Still, why aren’t there more Myst-like games in general for the now more powerful computers? Computers have come a long way since Myst was released in 1993 by two brothers in Spokane, Washington.
The demand for high-action and violent games seems to push games like Myst into the background with the low blood-letting and splatter quota. Still, with the continuing popularity of Interactive Fiction games and problem-solving puzzle games, while not a huge commercial market it should be market enough for more Myst style games.
Myst was the bestselling PC game until 2002 when The Sims broke its records. As of 2003, more than 12 million copies were sold and I still find them occasionally in thrift shops and used book stores. Myst was converted to iPhone in 2009 and has made its way onto Nintendos and PlayStations and Pocket PCs, but nothing has been released for the Android, a demographic crying out for Myst-style games. The tablet market demands higher quality interactive games, so now is the time, folks.