Memory Card: Myst

Elizabeth Meade takes us back to the nineties with Myst, one of the best-selling PC games from that era

Elizabeth Meade
6th May 2020
Image: Flickr
Myst, one of the first open-world games by Robyn and Rand Miller, is sure to evoke nostalgia in anyone who remembers early PC games on CD-ROM. It remains one of my top recommendations to everyone from professional gamers to those who are completely new to PC gaming. But why was it so good, and what made us keep playing?

A game from my early childhood, I watched my dad play Myst while giving the wise suggestions that only a five-year-old could. “This is a game called Myst,” my dad said, showing me a picture on the screen of our new silver laptop. “Click on something to go there.” A picture of a grassy patch sat in front of me, with a mysterious building ahead and a bunch of trees. My tiny hands clicked around the screen, exploring the eerily silent island with its abandoned ship, empty library, creepy forested area, and multiple small buildings. At the age of four or five, I had never seen an actual computer game before, so it was an exciting new experience.

I soon learned the basic rules of the game: walk around the island, click on something to find out if it can be interacted with and solve the puzzles along the way. Before long, I figured out how to travel through the island’s magical books to different Ages with different scenery and even more puzzles to solve; playing Myst became a nightly ritual for our family.

At the age of four or five, I had never seen an actual computer game before, so it was an exciting new experience.

The story of Myst is simple but dramatic: a man named Atrus and his wife Catherine live in a world where they can write new Ages, or worlds, into books. They have two sons named Sirrus and Achenar whom Atrus has imprisoned in their own unique Ages, known as the 'Prison Books' - a result of their attempt to kill thousands by destroying hundreds of books containing Ages, also why most of the books in the library are burnt. As the player, you get little other information besides this and it is up to you to solve the puzzles and find out more about the island, its mysterious inhabitants and its history.

From a technical perspective, gameplay is first-person and interaction is based on simple clicks, with no battle mechanics or time limits. The puzzles range from navigating a maze to figuring out how machines work, providing a variety of challenges for players to take on. Art and architecture lovers will enjoy the game as well, as, despite being an earlier game, the graphics are quite nice for its time and there are a variety of imaginative environments such as a forested Age, a crystal Age, and a mechanical Age. The creators’ boundless imagination and interior design sensibilities make the game worth playing in and of itself. Myst is for anyone who wants a peaceful, single-player adventure which will both delight the eye and challenge the mind.

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
Science sub-ed and Chemistry major. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking.

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