The original Myst was the #1 best-selling video game in the world from 1993 to 2002, a “killer app” that contributed to widespread adoption of CD-ROM drives for home computers.
Could a remake have the same effect for virtual reality? That’s a stretch, but the announcement of a new virtual reality edition of Myst is a milestone years in the making for Cyan Worlds, the Spokane, Wash.-based company behind the landmark puzzle game. Remade from the ground up in the Unreal Engine, the new version of Myst will initially be released for the Oculus Quest later this year, with a non-VR PC edition coming at an unspecified later date.
The news Wednesday coincided with the unveiling of the new $299 Oculus Quest 2 from the Facebook-owned virtual reality company.
“We’ve been waiting for the stars to align to create a VR version of Myst,” said Cyan CEO Rand Miller in a statement, “and I’m so excited to announce that alignment! Myst has always been about creating a world to lose yourself in, and VR takes the Myst experience to an entirely new level. It’s an almost magical experience for me, after so many years, to wander around the Ages of Myst and truly feel transported! We hope it will be for you, too.”
The success of Myst put Cyan on the map as an indie game developer, and created a franchise that includes four sequels, three novels (currently published in omnibus format as The Myst Reader), a yearly fan convention, and as of last summer, a film and TV deal with Village Roadshow.
Miller and Cyan have been vocally bullish about virtual reality in the last couple of years. Cyan’s upcoming game Firmament is planned to ship with a VR version alongside a 2D edition at its launch. Cyan founded a new publishing arm of the company, Ventures, in 2018, to focus on bringing out independently-made VR projects. This includes Myst veteran Chuck Carter’s interactive memoir ZED, and the forthcoming Area Man Lives.
Myst puts the player in the role of an unnamed person who is accidentally transported via a magical book to an isolated, seemingly uninhabited island. With no way back, the player is forced to explore the area and solve a variety of puzzles. In so doing, they discover the history of the island and the people who once lived there, as well as the secrets behind the “linking books” that join the island with a number of other disparate worlds.
Notably, Myst features no depictions of violence, time limits, failure conditions, or verbal storytelling to speak of, all of which was nearly unprecedented in 1993. It’s had a significant influence on video games as a medium, and arguably pop culture in general, to this day.
The virtual reality version of Myst is either the third or fourth remake of the original game, depending on how one chooses to define “remake.” The original point-and-click Myst was updated into a Masterpiece Edition in 2000, with upgraded graphics, sound effects, and music. The same year, Ubisoft published realMyst, which overhauled the whole game into a free-roaming 3D adventure, but ran notoriously poorly on most home computers at the time. A full 14 years later, Cyan revisited realMyst to release its own Masterpiece Edition, a Unity-powered remake that later received a major graphics update in 2015.
Cyan’s next original project is the VR puzzle game Firmament, which was successfully crowdfunded last year via Kickstarter. It’s tentatively scheduled to release in 2022.
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