Adventure Gamers Awards
The only time the magnifying glass is of any real use is when reading the pages and books you find. Even that is time consuming, as the books are presented with the system held horizontally and you have to continually move the magnifying glass across the screen to read a whole page. Given that the DS is noticeably book-shaped, and that games such as Hotel Dusk have taken advantage of this, why not make it so that a page fills each screen vertically, allowing you read it like a normal book? It really doesn’t take a Myst fanatic to figure that out.
Along with the magnifying glass, you will find a notepad and camera, and one requirement of Myst is definitely taking notes. There is no way around this in order to solve the puzzles. Unfortunately, the notepad requires you to input notes on a typewriter-like keypad, with just five lines to jot down any clues. These will take you ages to fill using the miniature keys, and the notes don’t even last between worlds. To avoid this inconvenience, a pen and paper is still your best option, but given that this is a portable console, that’s hardly a helpful alternative. A function where you could make handwritten notes using the stylus would have been much better, which other games have also done. There’s also the option to take a photograph which you can store. This is a nice idea, but it isn’t much use given the poor resolution of the image, and you can only ever keep one, as the photo is replaced when you take a new one.
You can save the game in one of three slots, and anyone playing should be sure to use them all; save too often in the same slot and when you encounter one of the many bugs in the game, you may have to start over. For instance, when you link to Channelwood, the game may spawn you in the wrong place, which makes it impossible to progress. Providing that you save the game before you link (which I didn’t my first time around), you can keep trying it until it works, but such an error is still inexcusable. In some places you’ll solve a puzzle and the game will crash, as the console will freeze and you’ll have to turn the system off. I didn’t know it was even possible to crash a DS, but Myst is proof that it is.
All the puzzles from the original Myst are included, which range from easy to extremely difficult, though the challenge of a lot of puzzles are doubled by the troublesome interface. On an average-sized computer screen, these puzzles can be frustrating at times but never hard to operate; on the miniature screen of the DS, it takes a great deal time to set the puzzles even when you know the right answer. The tower rotation puzzles, the sound puzzles, and the mechanical puzzles are all here, but it doesn’t seem like any effort has been made to adapt them for the DS. Several puzzles also require close listening, which is an unpleasant experience when all the voices, beeps, boops and ambient music sound like they’re coming from a poorly tuned radio.
Given all the technical problems that can unfairly impede your progress and ruin hours of work, don’t be too stubborn about not looking at a walkthrough. I completed the original game twice a long time ago, and never needed a walkthrough. This time around, I’d often find myself looking at one just to confirm what I already knew or to save myself from redoing something which was an utter pain to do in the first place. The only thing that kept me going was the promise of Rime, which I’d never yet played and now wish I hadn’t, as it probably features the worst example of stylus control possible. After much persistence and searching for help, I managed to complete it, but this “bonus” certainly wasn’t worth the effort.
As a longtime fan of the Myst series, I so badly wanted to like this game, and there are moments where you catch a tiny glimpse of what it could have been: immersive, enjoyable, and even fun. More often than not, though, it ends up being the most painful, soul-destroying, stressful, rather-stick-a-rusty-nail-in-my-eye excuse for an adventure game I have ever played. It saddens me to say this, since with a little common sense and better coding this could have been a great conversion, but as it stands this game is a complete waste of money. Knowing Myst well, with a walkthrough at hand and patience I’ve rarely needed to summon before, I completed this game in 16-20 hours, bearing in mind that I had to start the game over at one point. All this adds up to a game that should never have made it on to the shelves in its current form. There are so many unforgivable problems with this game that each should take a star off the score, but as it is I grudgingly leave it one star simply because it has Myst on the box and offers the occasional reminder of what made the original game so great, even if it only ever passes fleetingly on screen.