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Myst - Cyan Worlds.

January 26, 2020 game review, point&click, puzzle
Twenty-five years later.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought Myst (Masterpiece Edition) and Riven (Myst 2) on GOG.

I fondly remember playing Myst when it first came out on pc (around 1994). I was just blown away by the graphics, the music, the gameplay, ... and the birds flying in the sky (like : really moving !).
Ah, those where the days ...

'Myst.' - Cyan Worlds
"Myst." - Cyan Worlds (Masterpiece Edition, 1999)

So, the masterpiece edition is a remaster from 1999 (size : 1 GB, 24-bit color) that's playable on Windows 7 and up. Riven, the sequel to Myst, was released in 1997 and is 5 GB in size.

The Myst games are point & click games of the 'puzzle' variety (as opposed to 'adventure games'). This means that you progress through the game by solving puzzles, rather than by talking to NPCs.

The Wikipedia page for Myst is fascinating to read.
It says development started in 1991 (not sure if start of the year, or towards the end), but it came out in 1993. This means : just 2 (or 3) years total for the creation of a (then) state of the art game !
I always thought Cyan was a 2-man company, but according to Wikipedia, the team was actually larger : Rand and Robyn Miller, sound designer Chris Brandkamp, 3D artist/animator Chuck Carter, Richard Watson, Bonnie McDowall, and Ryan Miller. They used HyperCard (Apple) to create the game from pre-rendered 3D scenes, and distributed Myst on CD-ROM (which was really new). Talk about being creative, and pushing boundaries ...

So. Enough background information.
Let's talk about my experience (re)playing the game 25 years later ...

  • The music and the Cyan logo still make me shiver with anticipation.
    Watch this (ancient) clip on Youtube (posted by necro2607) :

  • This is the first view we get of the island ... So simple, yet, so full of mystery ! First view of the island.
  • The most frustrating and difficult thing in this game is actually the navigation.
    Myst is a pre-rendered game, and the lack of views frequently tripped me up / disoriented me. This is especially so in the ChannelWood Age (beads of sweat spontaneously materialize on my brow just thinking about this Age) and in the Selenitic Age. ChannelWood Age. Selenitic Age.
  • In a way, the graphics are still beautiful. However, I suspect this might have something to do with fond memories ... The graphics, especially when playing fullscreen on a Windows 10 machine, are actually quite pixelated. Island fountain view.
  • Sadly, I didn't notice the birds flying in the sky (untill afterwards, when I watched this "Let's Play" by Dilandau3000 (09:52)).

  • The Myst Masterpiece Edition I bought on GOG doesn't have subtitles (I seem to remember the original game had them). I found it difficult to understand the characters and hence follow the story line.
  • The game is a lot shorter than I remember.
  • The puzzles seem easier / more logical, but maybe that's because I still remember bits and pieces 25 years later ? Or, I've gotten a lot smarter since then. (ha, ha)
  • I still don't really care for the story (The Red Book ? Or the Blue Book ? Or ... ?).
    But that's just me. I like my puzzle games filled with puzzles, and my books filled with stories. Red Book. Blue Book.
  • In this version of the game, it's often quite difficult to see switches and doorways.
  • Some puzzles are a bit of a stretch (in my view). For instance, the Stone Age telescope clue. Or the Mechanical Age simulator clue. Mechanical Age.
  • I think some things have been made easier in this version. For instance, the battery in the lighthouse drains -really- slowly (Stone Age). Stone Age.
  • I actually read the library books this time. I should have done that the first time I played the game, because ... "there's clues in them books !" Myst island library. Book.

It's fun to think about how other game developers seem to have been influenced by Myst.

  • For instance, Knut Muller, the creator of the Rhem games ... This is a snippet from an interview posted by Philip Jong on 'Adventure Classic Gaming' in 2008 : Interview snippet. Below are screenshots from 2 of his own games, Rhem 1 and Rhem 3. You can buy them on Steam or from his own website. (And you really should, if you enjoy puzzle point & click games !) 'Rhem 1' - Knut Muller. 'Rhem 3' - Knut Muller.
  • Another developer obviously influenced by the Myst games is Zadbox Entertainment, the creator of "Quern - Undying thoughts". I haven't played this game yet, but it looks beautiful and very 'Myst'. As per usual, you can buy the game on steam. 'Quern - Undying thoughts' - Zadbox Entertainment.
  • And finally, another game I love : "The witness" developed by Thekla, Inc. (Jonathan Blow). The game is set on an island that is breathtakingly beautiful and filled with little moments of wonder. If I had the knowhow (and time and money) this is exactly what I would like to create. (See my other posts about this game, if you're interested.)
    You can buy the game through the developer's website, on Steam, GOG, and on the Epic Store. 'The witness' - Thekla, Inc.
    I also came across some interesting interviews featuring both Jonathan Blow and Rand Miller :
    "The Witness’ Jonathan Blow talks game design with Myst co-creator Rand Miller." - PlayStation Blog, and,
    "Jonathan Blow wants The Witness to deliver adventure gameplay that doesn’t suck." - VentureBeat.
    Below are 2 snippets from the VentureBeat interview (you really should read that one) : Snippet from the VentureBeat interview. Snippet from the VentureBeat interview.
    Yeah. I definitely don't agree with the last quote.
    Good point & click games have logical puzzles. If you're feeling confused, it means you don't have all the information yet. And the fun part of this kind of game is finding the missing information ...

While writing this blog post, I also looked at a couple of YouTube videos and read some posts on 'the making of ...'. And they made me realize once again what truly visionary things Rand and Robyn Miller did in those days. And how lucky I am to have been born at the right time to enjoy it !

Still from video 'The Making of MYST.'
Still from "The Making of MYST." - ristar200 (YouTube)