Puzzles are at the core of Adventure gameplay, they provide challenges for you to overcome with brains rather than brawn. For Action Adventures, they offer a break from the hacky-slashy-stabby-shooty element of title.
Every week I’ll bring you a new puzzle, drawn from some of the best and worst adventure or puzzle games I’ve ever played. Every once in a while I’ll even leave you one of my own for you to solve. If you do, I’ll find a way to reward you!
This week’s puzzle is from one of the greatest classics in the history of Point & Click adventure games: Myst. In this game you explore different dimensions, or Ages, all connected to the Myst Age. While doing so you uncover the secrets of those who linked the Ages and their complicated relationships. Today’s puzzle is the one you need to complete to unlock another Age connected to Myst, the Stoneship age.
When you first launch the game and your character arrives on Myst Island, you’ll see a number of oddly placed and seemingly unrelated structures. There’s a library, an observatory, a pump station, a half-sunken ship an even a spaceship. Each of these locations holds information or they’re part of puzzles you don’t know how to solve yet. One such puzzle is a water-filled basin with a model ship inside. The ship is an exact replica of the half-sunken one in the harbour.
To unlock the way to the Stoneship age you need to raise the model, which will in turn raise the real ship. Surrounding the basin are eight pillars, each with a button inscribed with a different symbol, but you have no idea how many or even which buttons to press. To find that out and open the way to the next age, you need to look for the keys to the Age, the information that ties Myst Island to Stoneship. Once you have that, then it’s just a trip to the observatory and a quick glance at the stars for inspiration.
What I like about this puzzle is that despite its simplicity in the overall scheme of Myst—trust me, they get amazingly harder—it best exemplifies what this game and the entire Myst series are all about: games with wondrous exploration where you don’t only have multi-layered puzzles but also multi-layered clues. Each time you find a piece of information, it’s just a fragment that gives you just enough to go looking for the next bit, and only once you have collected them all can you solve the true puzzles. Each age in Myst has tons of locations, some only opening in certain circumstances, and you have to remember every bit of information you’ve read or heard, because you don’t know what snippets are relevant.
Myst is still one of the hardest adventure games I’ve ever played and even some of the better-known adventure game designers have stated its puzzles as some of the hardest they’ve ever played. A couple of years ago I asked a few of them about the hardest puzzle they’d encountered and Myst was among the list.
I played Myst only last year and I understood their statement and how this series became so popular. I can’t wait for Obduction, the next game by its creators, but I fear it as well because it might just fry my brain!
Have you played any of the Myst games? If so, what did you think? Was it as hard as I’m making it out to be or did you breeze through?
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