A while back in 1993, when PC gaming was all the rage, a little company named Cyan Worlds developed a bunch of pretty pictures and added sound effects to them. The finished product is what we know as the adventure game, Myst.
Like mentioned above, Myst is a first person point and click adventure game. Never played one? That's probably because no one except indie developers makes them anymore. At its roots, an adventure game's purpose was instead of the mindless genocide of countless Nazis or zombies with a massive machine gun erection, you would instead explore and solve puzzles in an arguably much more story focused game, how ever, now-a-days those games would be declared "for pussies lol" by todays 13 year old demographic.
Adventure games started out as 'text only' games, which go under the 'Interactive Fiction' alias to avoid making them seem way too boring.
Zork I. Coming to Xbox Live Arcade
In fact, thats basically what nearly the entire market of computer games consisted of back then. Those rather primitive parser based games would be around for a while, with people
being bored to death excited for the next new step in adventure games. Then, 1980, Sierra On-Line produced what was to be the first adventure game to feature computer graphics, and its name was Mystery House.
Years past, technology improved, and so did adventure games. Around the beginning of the 90s, the most popular form of adventure games were the Point-and-click adventures. Popular titles would inclue The Monkey Island series, Sam & Max hit the Road, and the Dig, which were all developed by Lucas Arts. Yeah, that was back when they actually made things other than Star Wars, weird right?
Then, with the powerful CD-ROM was released, a new door was open to all game developers to include way more swag than they could before. This, coupled with the then powerful 3D software, was enough to create some of the first point and click first person adventures. One of the first of these being The Journeyman Project and Iron Helix.
The HUD is a tad bit ridiculous.
However, while being innovative for the time, weren't nearly as well known as the game that did everything right. Just a few months after The Journeyman Project was released, Cyan Worlds came out of their little cave, after 2 years of work, and released the worlds best slideshow.
The first thing you might notice as you jump into the world of Myst is
its incredibly innovative yet beautifully complex controls that the only form of control is by clicking on things with your mouse, leaving the keyboard lonely and unwanted.
You're not wanted here.
So if you're thick and haven't figured out by now, you use your mouse to click and go places. Now let me elaborate on the previous 'slideshow' jokes. The graphics of Myst are essentially just pre-rendered photos, with a few animated things thrown in to help the immersion. So with that in mind, you point where you want to go, and click. Voila! The immersion however is dropped a bit by the fact that there isn't any realistic transition at all, it just moves to the next pre-rendered picture. So yeah, it is a slideshow.
Pictured: What Myst was probably created in.
So, now that you had your crash course in pointing and clicking your way to victory, you may be wondering how this game is all laid out. I mean, surely there is a point to this game, right?
No. Yes! I'll get more to the plot later, but for now all you need to know is that your on this Mysterious island, and you want out. Since this is an adventure game, theres no one here to fill with .50 cal rounds, so it looks like you're going to have to explore. After about 30 minutes you will probably have explored everything twice and have absolutely no clue what to do next.
Don't give into temptation just yet.
While I'm not going to spoil what you are supposed to do next, you eventually find your first clue(s) to what to do! Finally! So you stare at the clue for a while, then a few minutes later you might be tempted to be a cheater, but come on! You got this! If you haven't discovered this already, in the library on the island, there is a bookshelf. Most of these books are burned, but some are readable.
Sadly, this is about 70% of the games exposition.
Upon reading these books, if you haven't quit from boredom already, you'll find that the writer of these books is on some very life threatening drugs and needs an intervention ASAP.
Or you could just go along with what he says. If you dare.
He writes about how he writes books. But no, these aren't your grandmas ordinary books! These are magical books! But no, these aren't your grandmas ordinary magical books! Actually, they are what this game calls 'Linking Books', and can only be written by people with 'special gifts'. Whatever. These magical linking books are somehow written to be an actual world (or 'Age', as they'd like to call it) and when you touch a page of the book, you a transported to this magical world. Just, be sure to bring a linking book back to your own world, kay?
"Wooo! I can't wait to tell everyone about... wait. Oh no"
So now you have figured out that you must travel to these worlds this man has created, and in order to do that you must find the linking books which must be hidden under the different landmarks of the island and I must use clues to get them! Oh, and I'm hanging on to the rather slim chance that the man who wrote these books will be on one of these Ages! Huzzah!
That is, until you read the red and blue books.
So after some very strange narration from some dude falling through the stars or what ever, he drops his book. There isn't really a certain player character, the instruction has the nerve to call you 'The Stranger', so lets just assume that the person you are playing as is, you!
You were Times Person of the Year, after all.
The game starts out as you come upon a Mysterious book that the falling dude dropped, and well you look at that! The title of the book is Myst! You ever wonder why they call it that? Anyway, so you open it up. The instruction booklet says that you find a bunch of wonderful descriptions and the last page happens to magically whisk you away to said world. In the game, you open it up and you automatically see a little video screen that plays a neat little video of what was just described.
I wish today's books had neat little video players.
Upon touching the
little video screen magical vision, you suddenly teleport to what you will from now on refer to as the Myst island. There are rather intriguing, and seemingly completely useless little landmarks scattered around the island, but other than those, you are completely alone. Upon a little scouting around you may find out about who may be running this shindig, a man named Atrus.
So maybe he isn't on drugs. I still don't trust him.
So you may have come across the library by now, and you may have noticed that there is a red book, with a red page next to it. Across on the opposite side of the library is a blue book, with a blue page next to it. Upon viewing either of these books would get you a television static, so maybe they are little television screens. After you try finding a good signal and its no use, you try to put one of the pages in the book. If you try the red book, and then open it, you will find a skinny insane man yelling at you to bring him more red pages. Upon trying the blue book, you will find a fat man yelling at you to bring him more blue pages. Oh yeah, and they also both tell you not to listen to the other guy, because they claim the other killed Atrus.
It's hard to pick since both of them are completely off their rocker.
So its either drown yourself, or listen to these lunatics and get them their
heroin pages and hope that neither of them murder you. So after searching the island you make a quick assumption that there are no pages to be found anywhere.
No! Stop it!
As I mentioned above in the gameplay section, the books to the other ages this guy Atrus made are hidden under the landmarks of the island (you'll discover this if you do your proper reading in the games library). So, how for the love of Atrus could you possibly get to them? Every landmark seems to have either nothing important about it, or some form of machinery that you can only toy around with before you quit and search up all the cheat codes. By the way, there aren't any.
So, how could you possibly even figure out how to work these? Well, in a very strange way of deus ex machina, you touch a picture on a wall in the library and it the bookshelf lowers to reveal the entrance to a tower that holds all the clues. These clues, while rather vague, are your key to unlocking the secrets of these landmarks to get to those books to get to those pages!
The only picture I could find that could sum up what I just said.
So for about 95% of the rest of the game you solve puzzles, go to new ages, solve even more puzzles, then you solve an even larger amount than before of puzzles. Did I ever mention that this game loves puzzles? While after a (long) while they begin to make sense, the puzzles are very very tricky. So tricky that a future remake of this game included about 2 or 3 hint systems, with one of the systems just telling you exactly what to do. Yeah, they were hard.
A real life interpretation of a Myst puzzle.
Each of these Ages you visit has a red page and a blue page in it, both in close proximity, but not right next to each other. You can't hold both because you are crippled and only have one arm, so you can only take on with you. However, if you are not sure about which guy you like yet, after you get back you can go back to the Age AGAIN and get the other page just to see the other guy say something equally as crazy as the other one just did. You can even choose just not to get any of their stinking pages. (Seriously, you can actually win by doing this, I'll explain later)
So, about 8 hours later if you used a strategy guide, or 5 months if you didn't, you are nearing the end of your trek. You've solved countless puzzles and visited some great tourist spots on the way, but theres only one page left. Where might you find them? Well, both are hidden in a fireplace, says Sirrus and Achenar.
However, suddenly, something interesting comes up. Both of them beg you not to open up the green book that is also in the fireplace. Really? That's like telling a 10 year old to not eat the jumbo bag of Skittles you left in his room with his name on it. Come on guys, you can do better than that.
So like a good obeying person, you run to the fireplace and open that green book up. This time, the once thought dead Atrus greets you and tells you that both of those guys are his son, and as if you haven't guessed already, are raving mad and imprisoned him because thats what raving mad people do, and if you give them those last pages, they'll be free. He then tells you that he needs a white page hidden on the island to get out of the book, and destroy the red and blue books for good. He can't stress enough that the white page is really, important. So, here is where decisions are made and the ending of the game is decided. Here are the different endings:
Ending A: In which you decide to free Sirrus.
You give Sirrus the last red page, he escapes, trapping you in the book. He then rips out all the pages, leaving you stuck in that book for the rest of eternity. You screwed up, kid.
Ending B: In which you decide to free Achenar.
You give Achenar the last blue page, he escapes, trapping you in the book. He then rips out all the pages, leaving you stuck in that book for the rest of eternity. You screwed up, kid.
So if you listened to either of them and didn't touch that green book, your stuck in limbo for eternity. Looks like those 8 hours or 5 months you just spent were wasted. However, there are two more endings if you aren't stupid and look at the green book.
Ending C: In which you teleport through the green book with out the white page.
This ending is hilarious. Atrus is all like, "You got the page?". You say no. Atrus then congratulates you on your stupidity and now you are both stuck in limbo forever. You screwed up, kid.
Ending D: In which you teleport through the green book with the white page.
You attempt to find the white page, and the way to get it is really quite simple, yet just a tad bit strange for my taste. Atrus is all like "Hooray for you! Brb, going to go murder my sons", then leaves. You then hang around in his dungeon for a few minutes (seriously, there's nothing to do but wait), he comes back, and congratulates you once more, saying he might need your help in the future. So I'm not getting out of here? Great. Fan. Tastic.
Did I also mention that you can do the little puzzle that Atrus has you do to get the white page at anytime in the game? Yes, you can beat the game at ANYTIME. How does that feel? Like you wasted a lot of your time?
It sure does.
So as you may have read above, this game was one of the best selling PC games of all time. 6 million sold. Gee wilikers. It also got rave reviews from nearly every video game publication, and has an average rating of 90%. So apparently it's a pretty darn good game.
It spawned several sequels and remakes, which I will briefly discuss here:
Remake #1 - Myst: Masterpiece Edition
Basically the same game, only with a lot of tweaks. Improved graphics (although they are still the same, just improved quality in the pictures. It's still a slideshow), improved audio, and some nice hint systems and a map to thrown in so the player isn't confused.
Kinda like the directors cut for Donnie Darko.
Remake #2 - realMyst
So Cyan Worlds got sick of all the slideshow jokes, so they decided to remake it a while later with 3D graphics.
While it kinda loses some of its original feel, it's very interesting to look at things from a different angle that you couldn't have before. The graphics were okay for their time, but it was still a cool concept. It even had a day to night time system, which I think was rare for games back then. Also, it had a new age. Neat!
Sequel #1 - Riven
The game starts off literally where Myst left off, give or take a few milliseconds. Atrus needs your help to find his wife from his evil father in a large world he created called Riven. Same Myst graphics, but also a very interesting game, almost more interesting than Myst. Oh, and you could actually DIE in the game!
Sequel #2 - Myst 3: Exile
Atrus needs your help, again. Why can't he do any of these things himself? The graphics were improved in this game to be full 360 degree pictures rather than static images. While it made it A LOT more realistic, the crappy transitions were still there, so it was still old classic Myst. The intrigue is starting to get lost now, since all the Mystery is gone from the previous two games.
Sequel #3 - Myst 4: Revelation
Same graphics as the last time. Intrigue is definitely being lost.
Sequel #4 - Myst 5: End of Ages
Last game in the Myst series. All intrigue is lost. Although, this game is actually in FULL 3D, using a very improved version of the realMyst engine. It's just not the same.
It also has a lot of console ports, including the DS, PSP, and iPhone! Myst also spawned a large amount of people trying to capitalize on the point-n-click trend by making their own point-n-click games. They aren't as cool as Myst though, since they are basically copying every aspect other than the island and the linking books. Also, did I mention Lost was partially inspired by Myst? Flippin sweet!