Humans are built to solve puzzles. The whole course of our evolutionary history has been essentially about solving various puzzles. Once upon a time, it meant puzzles like, “How can I kill things to eat them even though I’m small?” And, “What should we do with all this poo that we keep doing?” Now the puzzles are fun and usually involve math, strategy, and logic. Call them puzzles or mind games or shovel, puzzles are a genre of game in itself (besides being a part of almost every other genre).
But the ubiquity of puzzles hasn’t always been the rule of the game world. For years, most puzzle games used skipped board game mechanics where players performed memorization or organization feats. Puzzle games were often a static, two-dimensional experience that looked more like something you’d find on the back of a newspaper than inside the circuits of a Super Famicom. Great for killing time and a fun distraction, but far from an immersive experience.
Then everything changed.
Arguably the most important puzzle game to ever release, Myst is now available on Xbox Game Pass. Here’s why there’s never been a time to revisit this early ’90s bestselling classic.
Myst came out in 1993 as the brainchild of brothers Robyn and Rand Miller, who have spent most of their careers developing children’s titles. They presented their creation to Sunsoft as something different.
It wasn’t your standard puzzle game. It was a new genre in itself, as later sequels, Kickstarters, and Spiritual Successors would prove. This puzzle game had a story, a setting, an atmosphere – all the attributes of a fantasy role-playing game without the warriors and wizards. Instead, players were thrown onto a mysterious island with little direction and encouraged to explore and observe. There are no health or failure states or timers in Myst. You either understand things or you don’t.
For many players, “not” was the way they lived Myst. Of course, it was popular. It was the best-selling pc game of all time until he was dethroned by The sims. I remember being a kid in the 90s and hearing parents (!) Talk about playing this game. One of my classmates made a physical Myst notebook for following up on clues and sharing them with my college history teacher Ms. Biddle. He appeared on The Simpsonss, which blew me away.
Even now, Myst it’s really hard. As a point-and-click adventure, it does not age particularly well given the number of breadcrumbs and clues game developers give us these days. If you’re looking for a ridiculous challenge, go out into the cold without context and try to solve it yourself. Let me know when you reach the maze Runner so I can laugh at your tears.
There is another way, however. A better way, if you value your time and your sanity. When Myst launched, the Internet was not yet a thing. There were no forums and no sites like Reverse to provide tips, hints, tips, and walkthroughs. You had gaming magazines, word of mouth and occasionally player advice helpline. That’s it.
Now things are different. Now you can dive into Myst and face the game that has bullied you for decades with YouTube in your back pocket. You can uncover all of the things that made it such a successful phenomenon with the benefit of a little help every now and then (or a lot). You can play Myst on your own terms and maybe deal with some unresolved childhood anxieties. Remember, the real puzzle is the rage we got along the way.
Myst is available now on Game Pass, as well as for sale on Nintendo Switch, PC and Playstation.