Myst
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-06-02 Nintendo DS Adventure/Puzzle E10 (Everyone 10+) Hoplite Research / Cyan Worlds, Inc. / Empire Interactive

For many gamers, the original MYST back on the PC was probably their first great foray into the adventure drama. In what turns out to be both a positive and a negative in my case, I missed out on playing the original version all those years back, and am just now jumping into the unknown world of MYST for the Nintendo DS.

For those too young to remember, or for those like me who simply never played the game in any of its other versions, MYST stands as one of the best selling games ever, second only to the Sims franchise.

Click to launch video

Click to launch video (7.3 MB)

In the game, you are immediately thrown onto a deserted island with no instructions as to what to do next and no way of knowing how you are going to get off said island.

Using the touch screen, you tap in the direction you wish you go, and are shown various still images once you do so. Most of the play environment is stationary, so being able to decipher which buttons, switches, books etc. are able to be interacted with becomes key. When playing on the PC version of the game, your cursor would change shape depending on whether or not you were hovering over a "clickable" object, but with the reliance on the DS stylus instead of a cursor, finding them becomes far more difficult here.

As you make your way around the island, you will notice a constant menu bar along the bottom of the touch screen. On this menu you'll find your basic tools of the game, including your notepad, magnifying glass, camera, map, and save menu.

When you tap on either the magnifying glass or the map, the top screen will reflect such by either showing you a closer view of your current screen or by showing you an overall map of each area. Unfortunately, the magnification ability is lackluster when looking at anything other than a book or an already close up shot, as basic shots that have you looking into the distance really don't increase in size much.

Furthermore, the notepad ability is nice, in that you can tap down quick notes when you're playing the game away from a normal pad and paper, but since you can't draw accurate copies of many of the pictures you will find throughout the game, there?s really nothing here that can replace having a real notepad and pencil next to you at all times.

Lastly, in regards to the entire menu bar, the buttons themselves are at times unresponsive, forcing you to tap on each multiple times before the game actually registers that you did so. While this isn't that big of deal, considering as how there really is no time limit here, it is a nitpicky thing that I felt should be pointed out.

After getting accustomed to the games controls, and after exploring the majority of Myst Island, you'll come to understand more about the actual story here, and more about the man named Atrus who is apparently behind all of the happenings around you. Atrus' two sons also come into play early on, and throughout the game you'll be challenged with the task of traveling through the different Ages, or realms, of the game (six in all) in order to save those trapped in these other realms.

With the transition of the game from the massive PC version to the much smaller DS, it would be easy to assume that the game would be changed in some way, whether it is in length, depth or other content. However, the depth from the PC version remains here and provides one of the best aspects of the entire game.

While most of the gameplay is comprised of solving intricate puzzles, there is a large section devoted to reading about the different ages you will travel through, by looking through Atrus' diaries. And while some of these diaries do provide clues to help you solve various puzzles, there is also a wealth of information completely aside from the main path that can be read simply for your pleasure.

And while the sheer depth of the gameplay here and the vast amount of hours one could spend with this game without actually finishing it are impressive, the actual transition from the PC to the DS left something to be desired, with the majority of the audio sounding muffled, for the lack of a better term.

Even with the DS volume at its maximum and even while sitting in a completely silent room, the audio here is really quiet, so much so that I resorted to using earphones every time I wanted to play the game. Even then, the actual dialogue comes out in such a distorted fashion that it's almost impossible to understand.

Furthermore, the cutscenes and graphics themselves lost something in the move from the larger PC monitor to the small set of DS screens. Since MYST focuses on real world situations, objects and environments are their average sizes, meaning that some buttons become almost invisible in the dark interiors throughout most of the game. This became a large problem on multiple occasions when I knew exactly what I was looking for, but literally couldn't see it, forcing me to result to using a walkthrough to find the exact location of whatever button, switch, etc. I was trying to tap on.

All in all, MYST isn't a 21st century game, and it shows. While the portability factor (along with the new magnifying glass and map tools) is appreciated, the graphics here and overall presentation are lacking when compared to more modern titles. However, the story is one that does provide you will a real sense of isolation, being that you are indeed alone in your quest.

In the end, MYST on the DS falls into a love it or hate it category. For those looking for intense, fast-paced action, this is definitely not a game for you. However, for those who can look past a few technical problems and are interested in a truly engaging storyline, this might be a good place to start, but only if you don't have access to the original version on the PC.


Special thanks to Paula Adams and Empire Interactive for providing a copy of this title.