There isn’t much to be said here. Myst is Myst, one of the finest puzzle games to have ever been created, and now you can play it on your Android device. As someone who uses a Google Pixel to navigate the information highway, I can finally play the game on the train or while driving. Few problems, though, the big one being that I’ve played realMyst on PC already, and this port is far from the ideal way to play the game. There’s not much to be said about Myst as a game (because it’s fantastic), but as far as this port is concerned, it’s equal parts functional and frustrating.
The controls for the game work, but they’re not working in a way that I’d consider them employable. Instead of having to tap your way through each and every step, you can walk by holding down on the screen and swiping to change direction. There are three significant problems with this control scheme, though. Turning is slower than an amnesiac trying to recall their favourite childhood memory, you’ll be suffering gorilla arm syndrome trying to interact with anything, and there’s no option just to tap your way through. It’s infuriating to get anywhere without getting stuck on something or having to spend 20 seconds turning, but that’s not what bugs me the most.
Myst is legendary not because of how it controlled but because of how it cultivated its atmosphere. On a mobile, that immersive ambience is a little lost without a bit of dedication. For a start, headphones are vital, because there are no subtitles to read if you like the feeling of air across your lobes on the train. Then you’ve got the problem of how half your finger is blocking the screen a lot of the time, so you might miss something while you’re dashing forward and hitting the edge of a doorway. This might not deter you from investing in the game if you’re hard into mobile gaming, but you can’t escape the feeling that Myst was designed as a desktop experience. Then there’s the stuff that I most detest about mobile gaming that gets in the way.
At start-up, realMyst wanted me to make a Google Play Games ID. I politely declined the offer, but I was flattered by the opportunity to remember yet another password. Refusing was the incorrect response, apparently. Every time you travel to a new world, that same window pops up awaiting to confirm your ID. I see no reason how or why any connectedness with the outside world would be relevant to a single player puzzle game, and being prodded to occasionally submit to the pseudonym overlords detracted from the whole experience for me. If you can look past all this, perhaps even embrace some of it, then you’ve got one hell of a game on your hands.
Like I said, Myst is legendary, and I still have fond memories of beating it years ago. The puzzle design still holds up to this day, and there’s nothing quite like solving a puzzle so abstract that it takes a day and a half to realise the full magnitude of your idiocy. Playing on a Google Pixel, the gameplay was smoother than me on a date with a bottle of lubricant in a BDSM club. Best of all, you can still get totally absorbed into the game if you’re willing to look past the glaring problems. Don’t get me wrong, those problems are enough to ruin the whole experience, but buried underneath is a timeless classic deserving of attention.
As far as classics go, Myst is right up there, so it’s a shame that the controls were so shoddy. The port does plenty right in bringing the atmosphere to mobile devices, but the game requires so much more than a mobile device can give. If you’re not using headphones or playing for an extended period, realMyst for Android will leave you frustrated, and don’t get me started on that Google Play Games nonsense. Still, it’s Myst on my phone, so, I can’t complain too much.