Cyan's upcoming first-person experience title, Obduction, is deeply rooted in the classic title Myst. That's no surprise, as original Myst-maven and Cyan Worlds co-founder Rand Miller is lending his talents to the project. At E3 2016, I dove in for some hands-on with the title and can easily say that it's the most Myst-like adventure I've had since the original game graced my CD-ROM drive so many years ago. If that's the kind of experience you're looking for, you'll find it revitalized and refreshed in this modern take on those classic concepts.
There are lush environments to explore (in fully rendered 3D), buttons to press, levers to pull, and cryptic clues are everywhere, and there's even a sense that some of the architecture comes straight out of the Myst-world that redefined the exploratory adventure. My journey took me through a variety of areas, remnants of a once-successful town or village in an arid, rocky zone and a mysterious cavern area filled with strange lights and steampunk-esque designs. We're given only the barest of narrative threads to pursue, but like Myst, I'm assuming that many answers will come from the initial deluge of questions about the characters and world.
The touch of a button raises many questions as figures appear in brief video sequences to illuminate the world around you, and off vague hints about some of the wonders – and dangers – that it contains. I found myself carefully examining every discarded note, every outcropping of rock, and every lever, wheel, and crank. The puzzles seem quite robust, if openly obvious to how they function – manipulating switches to make a train track function properly, or turning a wheel around to provide access to new platforms.
Several characters are introduced during the demo, but we're not really given any sense of how things come together. That's to be expected, as I don't really feel Obduction is a game that can be done justice in the demo format of rushing through thirty minutes. I recall wandering for hours on end, tinkering with every bit of minutia in Myst, and that seems like it will be par for the course with this inspired successor.
The journey is never really that satisfying going through the motions like a recipe book in the confines of a demo, pushing button A, moving lever B, and seeing the results – figuring things out on your own after struggling to get things to click inside your brain is a far more suitable way to go through the puzzles and exploration, and I have to admit I'm a bit curious as to how that will play out when Obduction releases. Myst sort of had the advantage of releasing in a world where secrets were locked away in the depths of message boards; today, walkthroughs are mere moments of frustration away from a solution to every puzzle.
Die-hard fans of this style of game have a lot to look forward to, as it's the closest to the original title in form and function that I've seen (While Riven and Uru were certainly their own entities, Obduction captures that Myst feel and runs with it, with a bit of its own modern flair), so I'm looking forward to exploring things in-depth when Obduction hits in July.