When sons of the preacher Rand and Robyn Miller created Myst, they probably didn’t dream of the game becoming one of the cult ones. Even 25 years later, the game is well known among gamers and there are even those who still discuss it, like on Reddit.
This graphic adventure puzzle game was developed by Cyan, Inc. and published by Broderbund Software, Inc. which was responsible for Prince of Persia, as well. Myst first appeared in 1993 for MacOS, even though the brothers started working on the game in 1991.
The plot is about an unnamed character, the Stranger, who starts going through the book named Myst about an island of the same name. The moment he placed his hand on the last page, he is pulled into the world described in the book and has to explore the island in order to find a way out. The Stranger will have to solve puzzles and travel to ‘Ages’, which are other worlds, in order to find blue and red pages and bring them back to the Myst. Each clue he finds on Ages reveals more story about the characters in the game. This is a multiple-ending game, depending on the actions and decisions you make as the Stranger.
This is a single-player, first-person adventure game that has no violence or typical enemies. You find out about the backstory as you move along in the game, and time is not a limiting factor, so you can proceed at your own pace. Patience and logic are very important in Myst. Based on observations you make, you will be able to solve the puzzles quicker and easier.
The Miller brothers were inspired by the novel The Mysterious Island by famous French novelist Jules Verne. Even the premise is similar to the novel’s, about a bunch of people stranded on an island like the Myst. In their interview in 2007 for the website Adventure Classic Gaming, the Millers stated that Verne was not the only influence for the game.
“Lewis and Tolkien were an influence on both of us only insofar as providing the seed idea of what it meant to build a deeper fantasy world,” said the Millers. “Worlds that had history and depth, and even possibly a certain amount of meaning. They certainly weren’t the only inspiration, but they were some of the earliest.”
They intended the game for everyone, both children and adults. That is why time is not of consequence, although a novice player could finish the game in 40 hours, while an experienced one can do it in 12. Cyan used Macromedia MacroModel, Photoshop, and StrataVision 3D to create the detailed world of the Myst Island, which resulted in over 2500 images.
However, the most interesting thing about the creation of Myst is that Millers created a world based on a sort of virtual morality. There are many Judeo-Christian references in the game which were positively accepted by the fans.
“I don’t think Robyn and I were trying to make some kind of statement. We certainly didn’t have an agenda, but we were trying to say, ‘Well, man, it’s just frivolous if there’s not a little something here’,” said Rand Miller for Grantland in 2013.
Additionally, the Millers played the so-called villains of the game, Achenar and Sirrus, since they lacked the time and money to find actors. This often made people see a deeper meaning in the game’s narrative, but the brothers disagree.
“People have said, you know, you’re two brothers and you wrote this game about two brothers, so that must mean something. To be honest with you, it never occurred to us. That seems dumb, but it didn’t. So it probably does mean something, but we don’t know what it is,” they said for the Wired in 1994.
Myst was the best-selling PC title with six million copies sold since it was released in 1993, and was surpassed by The Sims in 2002. The game had two remakes Myst: Masterpiece Edition and realMyst, the first being an improved version and the latter included 3D graphics. RealMyst Android version was released in 2017, while iPad 2 and above edition was launched two years earlier.
Myst doesn’t stop to inspire developers and you can find other games with similar feel to play. Or, maybe one day there will be a worthy sequel that will be a real treat for all the fans of the game and those who are yet to become ones.