Welcome to what will be the last entry in Table Not Required, a series where we examine Video Game Series that are worth playing when we aren’t able to meet at the table for a TTRPG session. We’ve covered some great Games and developers, featuring Final Fantasy for its ability to tell a good story, and Baldur’s Gate for its excellent party dynamic. Last week, we featured The Elder Scrolls for its focus on exploration in what became part one of a two part finale.
As great as The Elder Scrolls is, the series is not for everyone. What if you love to explore your games, but aren’t a fan of action RPG combat systems, or want a change from the elves, orcs and other fantasy tropes common in RPG games? Well, for this I would recommend The Myst series. Much like Baldur’s Gate, Myst as a series has been developed and published by several entities, including Brøderbund, Ubisoft, and Cyan Worlds, among others. The first game in the series was Myst, released in 1993 (and coincidentally one of the first computer games I ever played). It was followed up with several sequels for a total of five main series games and Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, an online game that had two expansion packs.
While Myst and The Elder Scrolls both place exploration as a priority of gameplay, that is ultimately where the similarity between series ends. Where Elder Scrolls as a series feature Action RPGs with sweeping narratives and a cast of endearing (or infuriating) characters, Myst eschews all of that for an emphasis on exploration and puzzle solving. While there is a story to be followed (and it is interesting), it takes a back seat to your adventures amongst the various swamps, castles, temples, and other exciting features that encompass the various lands of Myst.
To truly enjoy the Myst series, one is encouraged to get into the mindset of a lost traveler discovering wonderful and exotic locales. You will often be confronted with a mechanism, locked door or other obstacle and will need to interact with the object in question or the surrounding environment to discover a path forwards. However, the Myst games themselves are not linear, allowing several areas of exploration available at any given moment. Sometimes, the best course of action is to head to a new area, or those previously explored and seek out new paths or hints to the puzzles you’ve encountered. And to that end, the series is also best played with a notebook. Much like the intrepid explorers of ages past, you will quickly discover even a rudimentary hand-drawn map and list of points of interest can go a long way towards progressing through the world. And though becoming “stuck” along the paths can at times lead to frustration, all is quickly forgiven when that sudden dopamine rush that accompanies solving difficult puzzles courses through the brain.
If you are the sort of TTRPG player who loves to explore uncharted territory, who prefers to find the lock mechanism for a door to kicking it down, and who enthusiastically keeps notes of your game sessions even the GM occasionally borrows, The Myst series was created with you in mind. Myst is a thinkers game, where acts of brawn are futile (or even impossible), and the only way forward is a well ordered mind balanced with trial and error. It can be unforgiven to the impatient, but for those of us who brave the intellectual tests put before us, the reward is an unforgettable adventure.
As this is the last entry of Table Not Required, I’d like to thank you for taking this journey with me through video game series that can scratch an element of the TTRPG itch. This list is by no means exhausting, and there are certainly categories of gaming that have yet to be explored. But these series are excellent starting points, and if played they should well fill in the gaps between our TTRPG gaming sessions.
Until next time