Honouring Myst-like adventure games:

A post dedicated to my favorite sub-genre of adventure games - Myst-like adventures.The term itself may be clumsy, but it is pretty much self-explanatory, though not every game in this list followed the exact formula that made Myst so great, but most of them share certain distinct features:

  • Isolationism, you are usually all alone or you meet only a few ppl during the course of the game (not the case for Ripper\Black Dahlia)
  • Lack of inventory, or it’s minimal usage
  • Almost no item-based puzzles which are one of the staples of adventure games in general.Not here though :)
  • Hints could be everywhere around you, be it a strange sound, an odd looking shadow, you have to be concentrated all the time
  • Difficulty - puzzles are much more difficult, but always logical.In p&c adventure games, you could progress through some particularly hard puzzles by sticking to elimination method (USE EVERYTHING ON EVERYTHING!!!).The same method won’t work in these games, or at least it’s extremely rare.
  • These games are always played from the first-person view.Sometimes you will be able to freely rotate around the vertical axis, sometimes you will have to click to turn around .Transition between the screens can be immediate or it can be made of a short video.
  • Myst games are known for it’s Ages, which represent different worlds, which in turn are self-contained locations, separate from one another.Some games in this sub-genre use a similar approach.Then again, we have Riven, a game from the Myst series itself, which is using a completely different approach :D

Anyway, here’s the list of my favorites:

0) Myst - well, the whole sub-genre of adventure games got it’s name from this one, what’s there to say :) Broke the records, made people buy CD-Roms which were uncommon at that time, presented a completely new way to play an adventure game.No real inventory & item manipulation, no other characters to interact with, complete isolation and the puzzles that were a natural part of the world, not just an obstacle to get through.Undeniable, immortal game.

1) Black Dahlia - absolutely my favorite.Fantastic, dark story that spans years, great acting and graphics.Puzzles are extremely hard, to this day I still sincerely hate the gem & the bag of runes puzzle.Not for the adventure novice and faint of heart, but after every successfully solved puzzle you will have an enourmous sense of accomplishment :) Nazi, occult, Germanic mythology, and a great pre & post-WW2 atmosphere.

2) Ripper - i’m a cyberpunk nut, sue me.Over-the-top acting by Chrstopher Walken, and decent acting by rest of the cast, which is actually comprised of the familiar names.Excellent story, phenomenal puzzles, some of them very,very hard, made by the same guys who developed Black Dahlia a few years later.One of the best cyberpunk games ever made, atmosphere is top-notch, all the necessary elements are there: high-tech gadgetry, cyberspace, hackers etc. <3

3) Riven - what can i say? Easily the best game in the Myst series.Stunning world that holds it’s beauty even today, phenomenal puzzles (at least the 3 big ones), incredible open-world approach to the game, the connectivity of it all, great story and a completely unforgettable experience.Nothing I say can do it enough justice :) No game since has used the same open-world approach, meaning that you can explore almost all the places immediatly, it’s not the usual scenario of: solve the puzzle->new area opens->solve another puzzle-> new area opens.This approach made the game a legend, but it probably pushed away some more casual players.

4) Zork Nemesis - best game in the Zork series, and the only one that lacked the distinct humour which was one of the trademarks of the series itself.This one was dark, much more serious, and much harder that the previous Zork games.Story is superb and the same goes for the puzzles.
But this game I will remember as probably the best balanced of all Myst-like adventure games (puzzle-wise).

5) Schizm 2: Chameleon - sequel that surpasses the original.Great puzzles with varied difficulty, phenomenal atmosphere and design of the world that you investigate, with decent story.Unlike it’s predecessor which had some really fucked up puzzles, this one is much more balanced, altough I do remember a puzzle with some switches which almost brought me to tears.Ah yeah, you also have to deal with quaternary and duodecimal  number systems.

6) Myst 3: Exile - my favorite Myst game after Riven.Best story in the whole franchise imo, I actually cared for and sympathised with the main villain.This was the first Myst game to be made by another studio (not the original Cyan), and the transition was pretty smooth.The Ages are beautiful and varied, puzzles are great, and they make this game the most balanced of all Myst games.Amateria and it’s ‘Great Pinball Ride’ is probably the best video sequnce award that you’re going to get in this sub-genre of adventure games.Unforgettable!

7) Sentinel: Descendants in Time - the last game by the studio that gave us Schizm 1&2.This is almost an ‘Schizm light’ game.Story is ok, the puzzles are excellent and none of them are too hard.I’d actually crown this game as the best possible way to enter the world of this sub-genre, definitely the most beginner-friendly of them all.

8) Reah - often unmentioned, this game is actually one of the better representatives of this particular sub-genre.Good story, amazing world that you get to explore coupled with good puzzles (some of the requiring quite a bit of thinking).Art direction is what you will remember the most from this game.You will also remember the last few puzzles, which are multi-leveled (each level being harder of course) and if you make a mistake and need to reset the puzzle, all the previous levels that you successfully completed will get resetted too.Lovely -.-

9) 7th Guest - it actually came out before Myst, but didn’t have the same success.It was different in a way that puzzles didn’t really blend into the story\environment, it was more a case of a series of puzzles that you had to solve in order to get the whole story.Great atmosphere though, and the puzzles themselves are good.

Honourable mention:

Obsidian, Timelapse, Lighthouse, Schizm, 11th Hour, Myst IV: Revelation, Zork: Grand Inquisitor, Pandora Directive

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