Myst, guys, seriously.

Cyan, Inc—the people who made Myst—are kickstarting a new mystery adventure game. Their Kickstarter for Obduction —sort of a spiritual sequel to Myst—ends this Saturday, and they still have just too far to go for my comfort they got funded just in time! HUZZAH! YAY! I am excited about this because, guys—Myst. Dang.

  • OBDUCTION I call this picture "the floating islands of suburbia"

I didn't grow up playing videogames—at least, not in the regular sense. Our house, though console-less, did have a Mac, and my introduction to to Mario came through a typing game that did technically give me "life skills" but did not outfit me with any of the necessary skills (hand-eye coordination, button pressing) for playing most console games well for the rest of my life. But Myst somehow showed up in our house one day, and along with my dad's electric guitar and an old couch, that game box is one of those objects from my childhood that just brings back magical memories.

I was about six years old when the game was released (it was 1993! There, I saved you a google!). Here's a quick aside for anyone who has not played Myst: At the beginning of the game, you're dropped onto a mysterious island with no clue as to what is happening. The island is pretty and has lots of nooks with strange machinery, buttons, fancy libraries (these are all "puzzles") that progress the "plot" of the story as you figure out what to do.

  • MYSTI fought with my sister about how to solve this levers-and-gears puzzle. A LOT.

I don't think I actually ever beat Myst when I was a kid. But that's the thing about Myst—it was still a pretty crazy thing to experience, even if you weren't playing to win. Even if you were just a confused kid who had never seen an adventure game before. At the time, the graphics were astounding, the mystery was mind-blowing (more like Myst-ery, am I right) and for someone like me who could usually play about 10 seconds of a videogame at a friend's house without losing all three lives and thus the controller (I understand, them's the rules)—Myst was fantastic because even if I did nothing constructive in the game, I could still explore and learn without dying or running out of time.

So when Cyan launched this Kickstarter, I started talking to some friends (and Internet Acquaintances) about Myst, and it should not have surprised me, but it did, that many of them shared my experiences. People who had never or infrequently played games before experienced Myst as a family activity, collaborating with siblings or backseat-driving their dad's gameplay. Several, like me, have vivid recollections of parts of the game, but simultaneously don't have any memory of ever solving a puzzle. Others did finish the game, after scribbling down notes and figuring solutions with their friends. Manda Whitney, an actor from Toronto I met on my Nerd Music Travels, said she and her friends made a pact to not solve puzzles without each other, and she read the in-universe novels to get the full story. For years she replayed the game annually because it meant so much to her.

The next videogames I played came a full 10 years later, when I finally introduced a PC into my Mac household and gorged myself on Monkey Islands (RIP, LucasArts). Other Myst fans told me that they were reminded of Myst (and its sequels) in puzzle-rich games like FEZ and Portal and games with "hidden" story elements like Gone Home and Mass Effect 2. Many of them added that, even with those other games, they've never quite recaptured the magic.

Maybe that's dumb. Maybe I have found the only 10 people on the Internet who agree with me, and perhaps there are other groups who feel the same way about Donkey Kong and Zelda (probably) and Oregon Trail, but to us Myst was really something special. Myst was a woven tapestry in a world of pixelated blocks. It had a story. A mystery. A spaceship. I mean, seriously. Dang. If Cyan can do it again with their new game, I absolutely wish them the best.

Thank you to Hillary Levi, Josh Closs, Cassondra Malloy, Manda Whitney, Daniel Hunsaker, Nicole Dieker, Heather Sorrentino, Craig Steffen, Amanda Lange and Matthew Mingus for sharing their Myst-y memories with me as I worked on this, and for, nearly to a person, telling me that playing Myst felt like coming home again.