The adventure game genre for video games was solely based on a single player in an interactive story driven by exploration and the solving of puzzles to advance. This type of game allowed the player to focus on the cinematic and the literary values. With each adventure that the player would complete another puzzle of the storyline would unlock allowing you to further your play. Almost like text-based games, the player can become far more engaged with the mechanics of the game that the creators wanted people to realize. Although the excitement for literary games was and never will be as high as first-person shooter or action games, but they did gain a huge followed in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The use of puzzles solving, gathering items; the story and setting, the minimal dialogue, and the goals all are what make adventure games so appeal to people. Cyan World Inc. was a great example of a company that knew exactly what they were doing in the field of creating Myst. It represented the adventure game genre perfectly and gained a huge following for its amazing puzzles and minimal background story given to the player. It was a game that everyone remembers and all that played will still to this day claim that it advanced the adventure game genre for all games to come.

When the Miller brothers and everyone at Cyan World Inc. started to create Myst their idea wasn’t to create a fast paced game that didn’t engage the player, they wanted the complete opposite. Myst turned out to be a beautifully put together work cinematic game that really made whoever was playing it contemplate what they were doing. “You weren’t under a constant barrage of enemy attacks, dodging fire, or leaping over lava pits. You weren’t given some lengthy backstory. In fact, other than a short opening monologue, you weren’t given any backstory at all. You were thrown into a mysterious situation and simply began to quietly explore the island and its ages. The story was told non-verbally through the exploration. You’d open a desk drawer and learn a lot about its owner simply by its contents.”  It was completely different from a lot of the adventure games because it had no clear goals, little personal or object interaction, and a greater emphasis on exploration, and on scientific and mechanical puzzles. Myst was the ultimate puzzle game. The engagement that was required to even finish an island was amazing, and even though it was difficult the challenge made people want to continue on with the game.

A huge difference between a lot of the previous adventure games and Myst were the graphics. It’s true that the development of graphics improved, but with these 3-D like objects and surroundings the player encountered it made the game far more engaging.  “A sense of visual acuity and spatial continuity was often needed to solve such puzzle as well as audio clues.” The more you focused on the little details in the game the more the player realize how essential they were to completing anything.  Sure the game play was something of importance to the influence of future games of the adventure genre, but the backstory that wasn’t given was also important. With any game that develops a huge following there are going to be those people that take the game to the next level. It maybe a little far, or maybe taking it too far is good for the growth of the game. The curiosity and a little bit of obsession that just about any player would bring to the game is what made the genre become so popular in the certain time period. How were you suppose to know what was going to be behind a door? Or what about if you pressed a button, or turned on a switch? All these were things that could have changed the outcome of your game, and everyone is always curious about these types of things.

Myst is a game for the ages and it outshined just about all games that came from its genre, except for the sequels, no game would have the same impact that it did on it’s genre. What exactly made the game so successful? A great storyline, realistic characters, and well engineered puzzles. A story that engages a player and keeps them to want to learn more, the voicing of the characters makes the player more comfortable and puzzles that will stump people force them to not only need but to want to solve them. Sure to some people this game may not be the most exciting game they will ever play, but it will make you think. The people at Cyan World Inc. wanted those who played this to appreciate everything that went into the game, and without a doubt the time and frustration that one goes through to complete this game allows just that. Are there other adventure games that top Myst? In some aspects there sure is, but Myst is definitely the game that started it all.

By Jessica Pearl