Review of Myst Oculus QuestDecember 22, 2020
If you’ve enjoyed having your brain teased by a video game in the last 20 years, or enjoyed the layered mechanical riddles of an IRL escape room, you have Myst to thank. Wildly popular when it launched in 1993, the narrative adventure was a pivotal moment for puzzle-solving in games. Now, 27 years later, the classic is reborn in virtual reality–rebuilt, but almost completely unchanged. Myst is and will always be a treasure. Even after all these years, its puzzles will still test, and maybe even stump, you. For returning fans, seeing it in VR for the first time is a powerful nostalgia trip. Being inside a world you’ve only seen through a screen before feels like diving into your own memory. When you get over that initial sense of wonder–or if you don’t have the nostalgia that conjures it–Myst can’t hide its age, and its VR makeover exacerbates its blemishes.
Myst is a small uninhabited island dotted with odd buildings and unintuitive, free-standing switches. When you arrive, you have no idea why you’re there or what you should be doing. As you poke around–opening every door, pressing all the switches, reading the books and notes you find your situation starts to take shape. Trapped on Myst, you will need to unravel its puzzles to uncover its secrets and escape.
The content of Myst’s places and puzzles do not follow any kind of unifying aesthetic–they are united in service of creating perplexing challenges that require you to be mindful of your surroundings and think creatively. At a glance, each puzzle seems completely obtuse, a hodge-podge of interactive puzzle pieces that don’t easily fit together. More often than not, you’ll need to take a good long look at your surroundings and figure out how the puzzle works before you can solve it.