Developer: Cyan Worlds Inc
Release Date: 18 May, 2023
Platform: Windows, MacOS, PS4/5
By Chris Picone, 18 May 2023
I'll admit I wasn't a huge fan of the earlier Myst games - not because there was anything wrong with the games, but I think just because I was a teenager at the time (I first encountered the series in the late 90s and played it on the Playstation) and I think it was just a little too slow-paced for me at the time. But I'm a bit older now, more patient, and I love Firmament's setting and the idea of exploring this world and its puzzles, so I thought it was about time I check it out again.
The scenery in Firmament is gorgeous. You start in a 1940s art deco-esque laboratory - at least until you go upstairs, where you exit into a frozen wasteland littered with mining and research machinery. After a short wander you will encounter a transport capsule which moves you to a hub that provides access to other parts of the world; the next area I explored was a sort of massive open European fortress which housed a sprawling electrical facility. It's an interesting world and a pleasure to explore. The graphics, however, are weirdly inconsistent. Some areas are modern marvels but in others the textures look strangely dated. The world is also gigantic, a feature Myst games have always been known for. Another feature Myst games are known for is their lack of hand-holding. You're taught how to use your "Adjunct" (a strange semi-remote device you use to open doors and operate machinery) and then fed clues in the form of bread crumbs both otherwise basically left alone to wander and work things out as you go. The puzzles are diverse in nature, complex, and large, often sprawling across several areas or affecting each other, requiring a chain of interactions to solve. But it's not overwhelming because if you're struggling with a puzzle you can always just move onto another area and come back later after you've had that a-ha moment.
The verdict? If you're a fan of the earlier Myst games, I think you'll love Firmament. It has a really nice style, gorgeous scenery, a huge world, intricate and complex puzzles, and the same gameplay flow that you already know and love. If you weren't fond of the earlier Myst games, however, this one probably won't change your mind. Finally, if you haven't played the series before, Firmament is surprisngly entry-friendly; if it looks interesting to you, definitely check it out, you don't need to have played the earlier games to understand and enjoy it.