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การปรับปรุง Oculus Quest ของ Myst เป็นวิธีที่ยอดเยี่ยมที่สุดในการกลับมาเยี่ยมชมคลาสสิกนี้อีกครั้ง

Ditch that CD-ROM drive and CRT monitor — you don’t need them to play Myst anymore.

Well, to be fair, you haven’t needed them for a while. 1991’s island-based puzzle box Myst has been remade and re-released what feels like 20 times now across a variety of platforms, but none of those iterations have truly brought players into its dreamlike world the way VR can. Yes, Myst launches on the Oculus Quest platform this week with an all-new remake that’s trying to be a little more transformative than what’s come before.

Is this the definitive way to experience one of the most popular video games of the 1990s, or should developer Cyan Worlds stick to two dimensions?

Island living

Before we get to what VR adds and detracts from Myst, it makes sense to evaluate the nearly 30-year-old elements of this release. People who already like Myst don’t need me to recommend the VR release to them — they know what they’re getting into. Also, I realize that some of you may not even know what Myst is, so here’s a crash course:

In its original incarnation, Myst was a point-and-click adventure game in which players traversed around a small, mysterious island brimming with fully interactive levers, switches, and buttons. Pull, flip, and push those in the right order and eventually stuff happens, leading to even more levers, switches, and buttons to fiddle with throughout a handful of fantastical levels. Ultimately, your aim is to free a couple of mysterious brothers who are trapped inside of magical books. The adventure lasts somewhere between five and 10 hours, depending on how adept you are at solving puzzles.

Previous remakes had introduced the ability to freely move around the environments in first-person view, but otherwise the game hasn’t changed much in the past three decades. Myst‘s sparse attempts at storytelling still employ voice acting that’s cheesy in a very 1991 way, which I appreciated. The atmosphere that permeates the half-dozen environments or so you’ll explore over the course of the journey is also just as haunting and mystifying as it always was.

Before I recommend Myst to anyone who hasn’t played it before, you need to understand that the game doesn’t hold your hand like modern video games do. Puzzles in Myst aren’t about pushing blocks or lighting torches. You will need to carefully study each environment, read in-game notes and books, and experiment with every interactive element you can find until you piece together a logic-based solution from a completely different era of game design.

Myst isn’t kind to players who don’t want to get on its level. Modern video games like Assassin’s Creed spoil us with straightforward objective text and waypoint markers, so there’s no mystery. If your brain is attuned to that, as mine has become, Myst can quickly become a frustrating chore. To be clear, I find this commendable, as Myst became one of the top-selling games of its era by being confident in itself. It doesn’t need to be dumbed down for a new audience.

All of that is to say that anyone who opts to check out Myst for the first time on Oculus Quest is jumping into the coolest and most difficult version of the game.

VR is a blessing and a curse

I want to make it clear right away that experiencing Myst in VR is dope. I don’t even personally like Myst that much; I’m too young to have played it back in its day and, like I said, I’m just used to a different approach to game design. But even I can appreciate what it means to see this iconic game world in a totally new way, one that its fans have probably dreamed about for many years.

The Oculus Quest version of Myst allows for full 3D movement with the ability to wander off the intended path if you want, even if there’s almost always no reason to do so. By default, you’ll move by teleporting to a desired spot using the Quest’s analog sticks, similar to other popular VR apps like VRChat. If that control scheme sounds unappealing or disorienting, Cyan Worlds has also included a bunch of options such as the ability to instantly travel up and down ladders, and move via smooth locomotion using traditional first-person analog stick controls.

I want to make it clear that experiencing Myst in VR is dope.

However, free movement isn’t what makes Myst in VR so cool. You could do that in other versions of the game, too. The secret sauce here is the ability to use the Quest’s Touch controllers to physically interact with all of Myst‘s confusing machinery. All of those little knobs and levers suddenly feel a whole lot more tangible and tactile than they ever have before. The piano puzzle you need to solve to access the world hidden inside the spaceship, for example, is a lot cooler when you can actually sorta feel like you’re playing a piano instead of clicking on one.

Even if you’re not actually accomplishing anything, it’s fun to just fuss around with all these goofy little gizmos to see what happens. Unfortunately, you do need to solve puzzles eventually, and that’s where Myst becomes problematic as a VR game. Myst’s puzzles frequently involve uncovering some vital piece of information in one room and bringing it to another room where it will help you solve a puzzle there. Back in the day, you did this by writing down or sketching that clue on a sheet of paper, unless you had a photographic memory.

Sadly, the Oculus version of Myst currently makes that tedious and difficult. Taking down notes on paper while wearing a VR headset is obviously a fool’s errand, but the game launched without any kind of in-game note-taking feature. Cyan Worlds has promised that journaling is coming in a patch early next year, but it’s not here yet and its absence is a gigantic sore spot in an otherwise fun experience.

The only real alternative is to use the Oculus screenshot feature to build an archive of notes and sketches directly from their in-game sources. This is totally doable and works fine, I guess, but hopping out of Myst to check on a screenshot in the Quest system menu is jarring. The entire point of a VR version of Myst is to make it more immersive than ever, but using screenshots in lieu of taking notes does the opposite.

I suppose it’s a good thing if the only real complaint I can muster about the Oculus version of Myst is something that we know is being fixed in a patch. By putting this strange world into VR and making it more engaging to interact with, developer Cyan Worlds has made me appreciate Myst, even if I still don’t personally like it all that much. I’d advise first-timers to hold off on playing until the patch that adds note-taking is released. But if you’ve got an Oculus Quest headset and love Myst, this is a ride worth taking.

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