Developer: Cyan Worlds, Inc
Price: $4.99 Download on the App Store
Myst for iPhone - Yes, this review is about that Myst, the legendary PC game that essentially put point and click adventure games on the map. Though that style of game isn’t so popular in the age of first person shooters and advances in technology, there is a simple and elegant quality to the genre that still makes it relevant in my eyes. Cyan Worlds, the original developers of Myst, has the same belief as they’ve brought their multi-million selling franchise to the iPhone.
The premise of Myst is mysterious by design. Upon starting up Myst and taking in the cryptic opening cinema, you end up on an island that appears to be the opus of some brilliant architect. Everything you’ll see from sprawling forests and crazy stairwells to gorgeous waters and meticulously crafted buildings will impress you. Why or what you're doing in these environments, or “ages” as Myst calls them, is entirely up to you. Therein lies the draw of Myst, it’s a game to be figured out and discovered through interaction and exploration.
For those of you not too familiar with point and click adventures, movement is done through clicking a direction. There are things in the game you can press to trigger actions or events as well. As you may imagine, the iPhone’s touch screen provides the interface to faithfully capture the mechanics of Myst. The response felt good, and I wasn’t frustrated by any delays or lagging. Besides tapping, you can do finger swipes as well to initiate left or right turns. Overall, Cyan Worlds has done a perfect job with using the iPhone’s touch screen.
The art and sound in Myst are still impressive even 16 years after its original debut, which is saying a lot. While most of the visuals are static in nature, pre-rendered video is seamlessly integrated into Myst which brings the world to life. One cool iPhone-specific addition are some slick fades and scrolling animations that simulate 3D movement. For the Myst purists though, this can be disabled by way of the options screen.
As impressive as the art is, the sound shines brighter. As you traverse the ages of Myst, ambient noises fill the environments and further draw you into the world. While the use of a musical score in Myst is relatively infrequent, it sets the mood and vibe appropriately, just like the original.
For those of you that may be scared of tackling such an open and mysterious world, Cyan Worlds was wise enough to look out for you too. In its options menu, there is a “hints” link that sends you over to a mobile microsite for the game. You can select a specific area you’re on in the game, and in turn, you’ll have a whole library of questions and answers to some of the most common dead-ends. So if you’re not interested in figuring it all out by yourself, you have an excellent resource for information to go straight through the game.
Myst isn’t for everybody. If you’re the type that wants instant gratification doled out in bite-sized experiences, look elsewhere. On the flip side, if a sprawling and intriguing journey through an interactive world strikes your fancy, look no further. Congratulations to Cyan Worlds for successfully transitioning their flagship franchise to the iPhone. Now about Myst II...