I wrote a comment which I will paste below because im too lazy to rewrite my thoughts. It doesn't make sense unless you've read the original piece, though, and it's also pretty long.
I'd say that the shift from a list of specialised verb commands to having the specialised interactions embodied in inventory items was accompanied by a simultaneous movement in these games away from focusing on "player agency" taking place within a gameworld and more towards focusing on abstract representations of those gameworlds themselves.
I don't think I've played a Myst game in the last ten years (myst...) but I kind of remember the structure of it being: find these isolated reactive elements spread out over some location. Observe how you can engage with them and look for patterns, similarities, possible connections between these reactive spots. From these connections, build up a picture of the world you're in. Extrapolate these fragments of reactivity and information into a wider cohesive whole, typically one with an embedded narrative inside. Most of the later adventure games I've played follow pretty much this structure. I'm actually not sure how important it is that this cohesive whole being hinting at does not actually exist outside of rigidly constructed simulations. It still seems to me an approach with some potential as a sort of compromise between implementing Hard Reactivity (text roguelikes 4 life) and just click-to-unlock-new-content-bloc. Get around the problem of trying to >PULL STEREO without having to implement new content by making it clear from the outset that you're dealing with abstracted exploratory gestures more so than actions with a real-world equivalent, that you're poking at these things from outside rather than in.
More traditional later adventure games kind of go the same route by having all the structural relationships of a gameworld cached inside inventory puzzles. I'd say part of the frustration of this comes from the fact that it's still kind of masquerading as actual events and narrative that you can take part in, when really it's so formalised as to bear only the vaguest resemblance to anything resembling life. These people will wait forever inside their isolated rooms, waiting for you to provoke or terrorize them into activity with some arbitrarily "signficant" collectible items so that you can progress into the next location and repeat the process. I haven't played any of the Myst games in a long time (myst...) so I might be giving them too much credit but I guess I would see a potential in the idea of adventure games which push even further towards abstraction and externality (did they even have "usable" inventory items in that series, the last remnants of the curated verb list?) rather than narratives of even a flexible, multiheaded kind. I'd say that the primary thing seperating even superlinear adventure games from just being content-delivery-systems is the sense of actively probing the limits of the world in order to gradually build up a picture of the whole which is more than the sum of its parts.
Anyway, I am rambling wildly by this point but would definitely agree that even this approach would tend more towards the Maniac Mansion mode of a relatively smaller selection of objects with widespread and multifaceted uses and responses rather than rigidly specific, prescribed uses and ways of progression.
So paraphrasing / extrapolating from this I guess part of what I find interesting about adventure games is the movement away from "player agency" in the form of controlling characters in a narrative and towards a more abstract exploration of a gameworld which just happens to have a narrative embedded in it. In a way I think something similar even happened if you look at the development of the Player Character in adventure games, from a straightforward "you" in text adventures and the likes of Mystery House to sort of blank, vagely-defined surrogate characters like Roger Wilco to characters with more developed motives and personalities. There's a shift here from the idea of playing as someone, with the ensuing parser and verb representations of what "you" want to do, to a more vague and abstract representation of what you're doing as you try to guide these wilful, self-contained little computer people through the gameworld as you test the limits of your agency and get a sense of some wider structure from that. So while there's definitely a lot of room to move in the direction of more reactive and manipulable worlds, there are still some things which I think could be valuable about the way adventure games sort of look at narratives and worlds from the outside rather than trying to let you Live The Game or whatever.
idk this is a long post.
TOPIC SUMMARY: PLEASE POST YOUR FAVOURITE MYST