June 9, 2015 1:35 AM | Sean Flint
First-person puzzle adventure Myst was a game that brought a completely new experience to PC gaming during the time of its initial release. Rather than tackling individual challenges, players were forced to use logic and memory to solve extremely difficult puzzles in a large game world. Quern, which is heavily inspired by Myst, is the new generation of first-person puzzle adventure. The goal is to create an immersive game world and challenge the player with difficult puzzles. With a fantastic visual aesthetic as well as a in-depth game universe with a unique story, Quern promises to give fans of Myst something to be excited about.
Quern begins as you take on the role of a person with no backstory, description, or characteristics of any sort. The logic behind this idea was that they wanted the player to become completely immersed in the story, and they felt that the best way to do this would be to have the player control a character that they could insert their own characteristics and personality into as they play.
Trapped in a world that is part of a structured system of connected worlds, the player finds his or herself on an island, more specifically directly in front of the entrance to an ancient and abandoned city. Even just reading this description leaves me wanting to learn more about this ancient city. What happened to the civilization that once inhabited this land? Are there any who still survive inside of this seemingly abandoned world?
Guided by two unique sources, one being a scientist and the other being an ancient spirit, the player must make his or her way through the island and discover the mystery behind it. The scientist speaks to the player through letters, all written with a factual and logical approach. The spirit connects with the player through mysterious visions, and provides a more spiritual view of the island. The conflicting opinions of the guides leaves the player with a difficult decision regarding which path to follow.
The scientist urges the player to perform experiments with the island's environment, manipulating the physical characteristics. This is completely opposite of the spirit's wishes, who wants the player to observe and become one with the island without actually changing anything. The scientist's letters contain explicit instructions for the player, while the visions require more interpretation and discovery in order to fully understand. Choosing a path is difficult, but it is something that the player will have to do at some point in order to progress.
One of the first things that was developed for Quern was the backstory of the island. Long before the stranger's arrival on the island, there were three heroes of an ancient civilization trapped there. They began to understand how the world worked and were able to reach a new level of existence. Thousands of years after they left, an archaeologist searched the island for clues and relics of their legacy. The archaeologist was able to control the elements of the island and bend them to his will, in turn making him more powerful than he imagined he could become.
In terms of what sort of gameplay you can expect, collecting and interacting with objects will be a huge part. Many objects can be picked up and stored for later use, and also be inspected to comprehend their potential use. Exploring the island will lead to the player running into various clues and hints that will assist with later puzzles. The game features difficulty progression, meaning that the further in you get, the more difficult the game becomes.
Quern is a game that features an open world, and backtracking will be an important part of the game. Often times, you will encounter a puzzle that you cannot solve until you find an item a bit further in. Complicated challenges that arise later in the game may have the player revisiting earlier locations and using newly found items to interact with earlier puzzles. There is a lot of freedom in what the player can interact with, some of which leads to pointless results. It's nice to see that they are allowing experimentation though, even if the results may be a waste of time.
As someone who really enjoys first-person adventure games, I see some great potential in Quern. Not only are the environments just fantastic, but the story seems very intriguing. I'm interested to see what has become of the island, as well as the archaeologist. So many questions arise from the story bits we have been given so far, so it's going to be great to be able to see all of it unfold. With an open-world design that encourages backtracking, I feel like I'll have to break out the ol' notepad for Quern to keep up with important areas and objects. Combining traditional puzzle elements with modern storytelling and gorgeous visuals, Quern is definitely high on my list of must-plays.