Myst DS Preview
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-02-02 Nintendo DS Adventure/Puzzle RP (Rating Pending) Empire Interactive

When I first heard that Myst was being released on the DS, two thoughts came to mind. The first was one of shock, and the other apprehension. After all, Myst is one of the largest and most expansive PC games ever created, and the thought of shrinking a game that huge into a single cartridge made me a bit worrisome. How much would be removed? Would any of the puzzles be deleted? Would the game play and feel the same as it did all those years ago? Luckily, during a conference call with Empire Interactive, all of my questions were answered, and my fears eliminated.

For those who aren't familiar with the original game, Myst challenged players in what Empire refers to as the "ultimate brain game". Players travel through multiple themed worlds saving characters trapped in different dimensions by completing a number of challenging puzzles, mazes and other problems.

While other games focus on character interactions to build their story, Myst revolutionized the way adventure games are played. Instead of focusing on other players, Myst focused almost entirely on you as the main entity in each world, and on your interactions with the environment. For most, this translated into a deeply engaging and spellbinding trek through their own minds as they put their observational and logic skills to the test. And I am very happy to report that players can expect the same experience when Myst moves to the DS.

Click to launch video

Click to launch video (7.3 MB)

Everything from the original Myst on the PC has been carried over into this new portable version, with the exception of the mouse pointer. Where in the PC game, the mouse would change when you were hovering over a hotspot, all of these actions will now take place by way of the stylus and the touch screen. In exchange for this loss of "hovering information", if you will, the interface has been redesigned to offer a bit of help to players, as well as to take advantage of the dual screen layout of the DS.

A menu bar has been added to the bottom of the touch screen, which contains new tools not found elsewhere. These include a camera which allows you to take screenshots of different puzzles, so that you don't have to run back and forth to repeatedly look at things, a magnifying glass to help zoom in on intricate details of puzzles and books, and an in-game notebook, which removes the need for the real life notebook which many find they need while playing this complex game.

Another change is the addition of a mini-map on the top screen that highlights special areas throughout each world.

However, in order to keep these additions from taking away too much of the challenge associated with the original version of the game, some limitations have been set. For instance, the camera feature can only take one picture at a time, so if you take another, the first is lost. In addition, the map only shows you the basic layout of an area; it does not include a pointer showing your exact location.

Along with the mini-map, zoomed images will show on the top screen while player movement and item activation takes place on the touch screen.

Even with the addition of these new features, the game will play the same as it did all of those years ago. All of the original music and sound effects have been brought into the DS version, and have received a bit of an upgrade in order to make certain puzzles, which rely on sound, easier to complete. Plus, all of the original videos are here as well, with voices being projected in full stereo, a fact that has this GrrlGamer very excited.

Another exciting feature to Myst on the DS is the addition of the new arctic themed Rime Age. The Rime Age was set to be in the original PC version of the game, but it, as they say in the film industry, hit the cutting room floor. The age was eventually added to realMyst, but since the game was received poorly, the people at Empire decided it deserved another shot. The age is filled with new puzzles and new music, and is set to add another 10-15 hours to the already lengthy gameplay total available here.

Speaking of hours, for players who are completely new to Myst, and/or for those who are opposed to using guides or walkthroughs, the game can easily last over 80 hours. With the addition of the Rime Age, this pushes the total dangerously close to 100 hours, which is a feat in and of itself in terms of portable gaming.

Of course, any one person's time with the game will be completely relative, as each playthrough depends on his or her own level of observation and how much time they want to take finding every last detail there is to be found. Still, for a game this long, being able to take it with you wherever you go is definitely an incentive to actually finish the game.

Myst on the DS is set to release in mid-March of 2008, with an expected ESRB E rating. Check back for a full review after the game's release.