This is my tribute to one of the most amazing and fascinating games saga I have ever seen (and actually spend lots of nights on, long time ago). The perfect blend of astonishing graphics, live-action sequences, soundtrack and intelligent puzzles – that gets you so immerse into a magnificent journey: MYST.
I remember the combination of satisfaction and sadness that get to me at every ending of each part. Satisfied because I was able to solve yet another age and sad because it ended.
It all started back in 1991, when two brothers Robyn and Rand Miller designed and directed the first game of the series – Myst, which was released in September 1993, initially only for Mac. They created an interactive, beautiful designed world in which the player has to embark in a journey to find a clues about the characters. Interestingly the game had multiple endings, depending of the course of the action the player takes.
Upon release, Myst was a surprise hit, with critics lauding the ability of the game to immerse players in the fictional world. The game was the best-selling PC game of all time, until 2002 – almost 9 years. Just to give you an idea – we are talking 1993 in which the top game releases were DOOM, Star Wing, Super Mario All Stars :), and Sim City 2000. Here a glimpse of how this other games looked like.
Myst also helped drive adoption of the then-nascent CD-ROM format.
The sequel came in 1997 and was called Riven. The storyline continues but unlike Myst, which took place on several worlds known as Ages, linked together by special books, Riven takes place almost entirely on the Age of Riven, a world slowly falling apart. For creating a difference the brothers employed co-director Richard Vander Wende, a former Alladin Producer Designer. Riven was praised by professional reviewers as approaching level of art. Critics positively noted the puzzles and immersive experience of the gameplay. Riven was the best selling game of 1997 – 1,5 million copies sold.
In 2001 came Exile – Myst III. Technology development led to a new experience for the player. Unlike previous games, which employed a series of still images, Exile uses a “free look” system which gives the player a 360-degree field of view. Particular attention was devoted to strong visual styles and mechanics, which a critic described as “a collaboration of Jules Verne, Rube Goldberg and Claes Oldenburg”. Even The New York Times commented: “Exile has everything you loved or hated about Myst and Riven.” Exile sold one million units within twelve months
Myst IV: Revelation is the fourth installment in the series, developed and published by Ubisoft. Revelation was the first game in the series released exclusively on a DVD-ROM format (a multiple CD-ROM version, as in Riven’s and Exile’s case, was not produced as it would have taken twelve compact discs to fit all the data. Revelation combines pre-rendered graphics with digital video, but also features real-time 3D effects for added realism.
Development of Revelation lasted more than three years; Ubisoft had as many as eighty employees working on the game. Musician Peter Gabriel lent his voice and a song to the game’s audio. Again the visuals and the interactivity were the strongest points of the game and all the critics praised that features. The only problem with the game was that it required almost 7 Gb of space when fully installed and a DVD-ROM drive. That seemed to be a little bothering in 2004, only six years ago 🙂
The final episode was The End of Ages – released only one year after the previous, in 2005, also by Ubisoft. The major difference from the rest of the series was that this one used real-time 3D graphics. And the soundtrack – which was the best of all – winning the 2006 Game Industry News award.
In between, in 2003, one of the brothers – yes they split after sharing the first success, released Uru – a parallel story that takes place in the modern era and allows players to customize their onscreen avatars. Players use their avatars to explore the abandoned city of the ancient race of D’ni, uncover story clues and solve puzzles. For most of the fans it was just another page of Myst – and that was fine.
After the Uru: Ages beyond Myst the project got very ambitious and became Uru Live: Myst Online – a massive multiplayer online game, that Miller himself described as: “a revolutionary adventure game that takes the best qualities of the Myst franchise and makes them even better. The single-player experience will eclipse the beauty, grandeur, and mind-challenging elements of previous titles. Plus, with the option to join a constantly updated online universe, the adventure never has to end. From new machines and puzzles to special events and entirely new Ages, players will find more to do, more to see, and more to explore each time they return—and this time, they can discover everything with old and new friends.” The multiplayer beta test gathered 10,000 to 40,000 participants but the official version was first delayed and then never released because of lack of projected subscribers.
Although Uru was not a financial success the original graphics and story attracted a cult following.
Here is a recap of all titles!
A “seven stars” (sapte stele) experience
…thank you Randy and Robyn!