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. Continue reading