For those who may not be too familiar with video gaming history, Myst was one of those games that changed everything. Released in Sept. 1993, Myst was a fantastical CD-ROM puzzle game that combined a unique setting with a powerfully original story.
Myst spawned a five-game series, several spin-off novels and a new generation of story-based games geared toward an adult audience. It really was a marvel of its time.
So it only makes sense it would be brought to the iPad, another marvel of its time.
realMyst is an updated version of the first Myst game, having added free roaming and real-time graphics the original did not possess. The result is a game that’s just as groundbreaking and original as it was almost 20 years ago.
The game starts with the player, also known as the Stranger, falling smack dab onto Myst Island, completely alone, with no knowledge of who he / she is and how he / she got there. The goal of the game is to piece together the actual puzzles of Myst in order to solve the theoretical puzzles of what happened to those who populated the island before the Stranger’s arrival.
In order to solve the island’s Mysteries (get it?), the player uses a series of books to transport between different worlds, or “Ages,” that were discovered by Atrus, one of the game’s key figures. During these Ages, the player will painstakingly put together the pieces and discover the truth about the tragedy. And when I say painstakingly, I mean it. This game is not for the “Angry Birds”-style casual gamer.
I had a really hard time playing Myst when it first came out. I was about 7 years old and the puzzles were way too difficult for me to comprehend. Nearly 20 years later, they have not gotten any easier. They are still pretty darn complicated.
However, that is not the game’s fault. By all standards, this game is pretty impressive on the iPad. There are no joysticks to move about and no cursor to use. The entire screen is simply the visual vantage point of the Stranger and he or she explores the world of Myst.
This type of movement, in which the player uses his or her fingers to move about and interact with the environment, is hard to figure out at first — once you have the hang of it, it’s actually a great form of gameplay.
Be prepared to have a dirty screen, though. Your fingers will swipe and slide everywhere across the screen, leaving fingerprints on just about every corner of the iPad’s surface. So have a cleaning cloth nearby, if possible.
There are a few other problems with the game, though they’re more nuisance than error. One problem would be with the loading screen delays that occur whenever the player moves from one landmark to another.
They only last a couple of seconds (except the “linking…” loading screens for different Ages, which can literally takes ages); but the fact that they happen just about anywhere prevents the player from truly becoming absorbed in the game. It takes you away from the experience, which can be annoying.
One other gripe I have is that some of the puzzles can be a little repetitive. For example, during the Mechanical Age, one of the puzzles involve the player entering the fortress, walking down a hallway, going up an elevator, moving a gear, leaving the elevator, walking down the hallway, leaving the fortress and looking at a piece of information that will be used to solve a later puzzle. You have to do this SEVERAL TIMES. I began to hate the stupid gear by the end of it.
But again, these aren’t deal breakers for the game — because the benefits of this game’s unique world and story outweigh these small technical blips.
For those looking for a trip down game-memory lane, or just wanting a puzzle challenge that pushes the player in a way few other iPad games can, realMyst is a great choice. It can be long, it can be repetitive and it can be frustrating, but it’s well worth it.
Check out realMyst for iPad; it’s currently priced on sale at $6.99 (normally $9.99).
Disclosure: This app was independently purchased by the post author in the iPad App Store. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.