Review

Myst Oculus Quest Review

  • Unknown Release Date
    unreleased
  • OQ

More than 25 years later, Myst remains iconic. In virtual reality, the puzzle box still confounds, even as it shows its age.

If you've enjoyed having your brain teased by a video game in the last 20 years, or enjoyed the layered mechanical riddles of an IRL escape room, you have Myst to thank. Wildly popular when it launched in 1993, the narrative adventure was a pivotal moment for puzzle-solving in games. Now, 27 years later, the classic is reborn in virtual reality--rebuilt, but almost completely unchanged. Myst is and will always be a treasure. Even after all these years, its puzzles will still test, and maybe even stump, you. For returning fans, seeing it in VR for the first time is a powerful nostalgia trip. Being inside a world you’ve only seen through a screen before feels like diving into your own memory. When you get over that initial sense of wonder--or if you don't have the nostalgia that conjures it--Myst can’t hide its age, and its VR makeover exacerbates its blemishes.

Myst is a small uninhabited island dotted with odd buildings and unintuitive, free-standing switches. When you arrive, you have no idea why you're there or what you should be doing. As you poke around--opening every door, pressing all the switches, reading the books and notes you find--your situation starts to take shape. Trapped on Myst, you will need to unravel its puzzles to uncover its secrets and escape.

The content of Myst's places and puzzles do not follow any kind of unifying aesthetic--they are united in service of creating perplexing challenges that require you to be mindful of your surroundings and think creatively. At a glance, each puzzle seems completely obtuse, a hodge-podge of interactive puzzle pieces that don't easily fit together. More often than not, you'll need to take a good long look at your surroundings and figure out how the puzzle works before you can solve it.

Myst on Oculus Quest
Myst on Oculus Quest

The first puzzle, explained in a note you find when you first arrive, sets the tone for the whole game: The note tells you to count the number of switches on the island, and enter that number into a machine to view a secret message. However, the switches have been placed adjacent to points of interest on the island, so they look as if they should be connected to other puzzles. Plus, switches are normally meant to be pulled. You would never figure out how to use them if not for the note. They unlock something, but they don't do what you'd expect or work intuitively.

As far as I can tell, all the original puzzles remain intact, so returning players who remember what to do can fly through the game. If you want the game to keep you honest, though, there is a puzzle randomizer, which changes the symbol- and number-based answers. The randomizer doesn't change how the puzzles are solved, but it forces you to go through all the steps without cutting corners.

Myst's story is also a puzzle. Told in bits and pieces, learning the island's history leads you to learn more about how you might escape. Like the puzzles, the information you'll need doesn't make itself obvious, so you have to pay close attention and keep information in mind as you go. In the 1990s, this was a game where you would need to write things down on a piece of paper. On the Quest, I found myself taking lots of screenshots, which takes a little longer but ultimately worked just as well.

Taking notes is just one aspect of Myst that feels archaic. Compared to modern puzzle and adventure games, Myst is an incredibly inconvenient game. Many of the puzzles require you to walk to one area to flip a switch, then go somewhere to check whether doing so led to the intended result. And, even with a scratchpad, there are a few puzzles that rely on your being a thorough investigator with a very good memory. Even as a fan of the original, inclined to forgive its faults, I recognize that it can become tedious checking your work and tinkering with puzzles, especially when you get stuck--doubly so when using VR-style "teleport" movement.

I played Myst on my Mac when I was a kid, but hadn't touched it for many years. Even after decades away, though, when I found myself on the dock in the game's opening moments, I recognized where I was. Though the game looks very different; the original's pre-rendered visuals feel more vibrant and alive in 3D. Standing on the dock in VR, as opposed to simply seeing it on a screen, felt like a lucid dream. It felt like I was reliving a memory from my childhood. It had been long enough that I didn't remember much about actually solving the puzzles, but I still recognized many of the spaces.

I knew them well enough to see that the environments are more realistic and detailed. If you look at the original '90s versions, many of the environments had a craggy, geometric quality. In VR, the environments look smoother and more well-proportioned. In many places, the world is more detailed. You can see wood grain, rivets in pipes, and other small details. Though enhanced, the world hasn't changed. This is just a more complete rendering of it.

Even without that emotional context, Myst is a simple game, with mechanics that translate well to a VR experience. Exploring every nook and cranny of the world is infinitely more captivating when you're in it, as opposed to simply looking at it. Turning the knobs, pulling the levers, and flipping the switches feels more engaging than merely pointing and clicking. Like many VR games, you can switch between two movement controls: using the analog to move and "teleport" movement, where you hold and release the left analog stick to resituate yourself. You can also walk around your immediate surroundings if you have the free space to set up room-scale tracking. Room-scale can't replace the other methods, but using room-scale in puzzle rooms really enhances the sensation that you're in the space.

Myst on Oculus Quest
Myst on Oculus Quest

At the same time, VR, and the Oculus Quest specifically, impose some technical limitations. While the new art successfully realizes a more detailed version of Myst, the visual fidelity of the new version leaves something to be desired. Many objects have ragged, pixelated edges. Text, particularly when it's supposed to be hand-written, is blurry and hard to read, though I never encountered anything I couldn't read outright.

In general, the Quest version of Myst is also technically shaky at launch. In just over six hours, I encountered multiple bugs that killed my save without crashing the game. In one instance, when I teleported into a wall, the impact was obvious. In another, where a puzzle didn't reset properly, I moved on and completed whole sections of the game before realizing there was a problem. The auto-save feature tracks you down to the second, so saving manually is important. Some things never change, I guess.

If you're like me and have some reverence for Myst from a bygone age, you can forgive the technical flaws. Getting to not only return to the game, but see it in VR, was a surreal, heartwarming experience. And it was heartening to find that, even years later, it still has teeth. Newcomers may find it a tough hang between its unforgiving old-school adventure game tendencies and some technical issues, but it's still an impressive brain-teaser and a neat cultural artifact.

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The Good

  • For returning players, going inside Myst is a great nostalgia trip
  • Complex puzzles are still challenging and interesting

The Bad

  • Visuals looks pixelated and some text looks blurry
  • Checking your work can grow tedious in some puzzles

About the Author

Mike Epstein returned to Myst island for about seven hours after more than 20 years away. He played on a first-generation Oculus Quest. Review code for the game was provided by the publisher.
25 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Spaceme17

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Titled My Oculus Quest Review yet this is a re-review of Myst.

Perhaps don't smoke crack if you are trying to write an article.

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Alexander2cents

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The blurry visuals can be forgiven because the polygon count is ideal and plus its in VR!

This is a lot better than realMyst remastered edition from the year 2012.

Thank you!

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i2eaper0f5ouls

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Coming december 31, 2098...

so like... 70 years?

2 • 
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bruta

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@i2eaper0f5ouls: you wish, it will get delayed

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nyran125tk

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they probably needed to totally remake it in VR. Did they just remaster the old Myst for VR?

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Seymour47

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They really are giving this a pretty extended post-review development period. 78 years? Seems a tad longer than needed if you ask me.

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Zarpie

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Released in 2098??? You gotta be kidding.

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OhmyA337

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Oh my god is that really the stormy island they made all sunny now? Talk about a pass.

Rather play Realmyst on VorpX and I hate vorpx.

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Pyrosa

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Wow; holy throwback! Didn't hear about this until now.

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

As a Myst junkie I would love to play this. But I'm not gonna get an oculus to do so. I did just grab the Real Myst Masterpiece on Switch for fun and that's been nice. Like everyone, I think the original (well, the masterpiece edition with better color depth) is the best, but it is rewarding to explore in true 3d as well.

2 • 
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iloveyourface

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Edited By iloveyourface

i still remember getting chills seeing the beginning fmv intro.. the sound effects, falling into the world and just enamored by the prerendered areas. (little did i know myst 4: revelation would perfect this artform 10 years later.) soundblaster pro never sounded so good in 1993/94. played on a 486dx2 when moore's law made sense. ended up leaning toward sierra/lucasarts games, but as far as i'm concerned the miller bros. are, and still, geniuses. the sequel, RIVEN, is their pinkerton album. just knocked it out of the park and not once held the player's hand. truly an experience i never felt with any other series. i think the medium they used, an interactive slide show, fit perfectly with the puzzles. you were able to sit back and draw out your own ideas and maps. you could get up, make a cup of coffee, and sit back down without worrying if an enemy knocked your head off. not to bash shooters! i'll have to try this in VR, but my own nostalgia might be too strong. i'm afraid i'm turning into the ol' "the original is always better than the remake" snob. :D thanks for the review!!

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Pyrosa

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@iloveyourface: That's some excellent nostalgia-pr0n right there. You had me at SBpro on a 486DX2!

That was one of my favorite systems of all-time.

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lonewolf1044

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@Pyrosa: Oh the good ole DOS days and I knew it was an excellent game and I brought it way back then but never loaded it and still have the CD.

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Keaze_

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Edited By Keaze_

@iloveyourface: Moore's law will really go out the window once photonic computing can be controlled. Maybe at that point Cyberpunk will run smoothly

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illegal_peanut

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I swear VR is the hardest video game thing to get into. Mostly because a lot of major sites don't cover it. And there aren't many places that are really trying to sell the idea to people.

Which makes the $400 and up need to buy said VR. Almost completely unjustifiable.

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OhmyA337

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Edited By OhmyA337

@illegal_peanut: You have to really know what you want out of it. I always knew no matter what I could sit in a huge movie theater and play my games on a 5000 inch screen. That sold me on it.

The VR games are a nice "addition" to me.

and no I dont have a quest dont touch those.

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Smosh150

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Smosh150  Online

@illegal_peanut: It definitely is a know you want it, try it through some hard to get the full experience method (Unless someone you know has it and offers to let you try it), or get it on a whim and hope for the best.

I knew I wanted it because of it and flight sims go together like peanut butter and jelly. Probably would have picked it up at some point if it wasn't a factor, but it wouldn't have been a no need to consider not getting it situation.

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uninspiredcup

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Edited By uninspiredcup

Nice to see VR games getting reviewed. I feel the site hasn't done a very good job of covering them over the years, hopefully this changes.

Games like Myst seem perfect for the VR platform.

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lonewolf1044

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@uninspiredcup: That is true looking at how the game is played.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

How many different versions of Myst are we up to now?

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Seymour47

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@mogan: We're still about 37 versions short of the number of Skyrim's out there.

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Byshop

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Byshop  Moderator

@mogan: Myst, RealMyst, RealMyst Definitive Edition, and now this one (RealestMyst?).

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BeachBum

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@Byshop: Not even close.

Myst, Myst Masterpiece, realMyst Interactive 3d, realMyst Masterpiece, 2020 update to support modern hardware and vr

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lionheartssj1

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Edited By lionheartssj1

Myst seems like the ideal game for VR, but not ideal enough to need a facebook account just to play it.

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OhmyA337

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@lionheartssj1: Its coming to Steam, but this version looks terrible regardless.

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Myst

Unknown Release Date
unreleased
  • Oculus Quest
  • PC

Developed by:

Published by:

Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating.
Rating Pending
Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating.