Every Myst Game Is Getting Repackaged For The Game's 25th Anniversary

It's been 25 years since the original Myst was launched, confusing school teachers and boosting sales of Macs around the world. So to celebrate, developers Cyan are running a limited edition Kickstarter containing every Myst game ever released.

The special edition physical release comes not long after Cyan announced they would be releasing Windows 10-comptaible versions of every Myst game this year. This Kickstarter will include those updated versions, while housing them in a 1.23kg book akin to the iconic Myst linking books:

The book has a 480p IPS LCD screen inside for those buying into the $US169 tier; if you're just grabbing the $US99 offering, you'll still be able to see through a window in the book to the art on the game sleeves. Higher tiers also have functioning replicas of the inkwell and pen used by Gehn, as well as 25 hand-drawn concept sketches from Riven if you're happy to pony up over $US1,000.

That's exorbitant beyond measure, but it's still nice to see the series get another physical run. The Kickstarter has another 44 days to run, but it's already within reaching distance of its goal of £175,584. You can check it all out here.


Comments

    Yes please. Can we get Starship Titanic as well?

      Still got my original copy. :D

        Same but getting it to work is the problem and the gog version simply will not run correctly.

    Do any of the Myst games hold up today? It's the series I've always wanted to give a proper go, but apart from playing the original a little bit, I've never had the chance

      It depends. While the puzzles, story and atmosphere hold up (in my view), they were built to squeeze the most out of limited hardware back in the day.

      For example, the first Myst had to have all the images analysed and the most common colours picked to keep the file size small without loosing too much detail.

      But if you are curious, just give them a shot. The worst that can happen is you just don't like them.

      As a long time Myst fan of the original games and story (I like to call it the Atrus Saga), here's my rundown of the main installments with very minimal spoilers.

      Myst
      As WiseHacker said, Myst squeezed the most out of the tech available back in the mid-90's. The perception of movement was achieved by, at each position in the game, have a detailed, prerendered CG image of the scene from where you were currently standing. Moving forward or turning left or right would transition to an image of the scene from that viewpoint. Animations were simple animated images overlayed on these fullscreen images to blend in with the scene.
      The puzzles were simple and, for the most part, knowledge gained in one Age (world) from puzzles didn't really carry over to other Ages, though most puzzles in any given Age were thematically related. However, some puzzles mechanics were only used once and then discarded, though this wasn't uncommon for the day and for a game trying to separate itself from the myriad of point-n-click games of the time. I wouldn't say Myst really holds up today because, by this past decade's standards, it was very limited, though quite advanced for a couple guys programming in a basement. Still, it's the first game in the series and introduces the brothers Sirrus and Achenar and their father Atrus, and it still has it's own charm, though I don't think it's absolutely necessary to play Myst in order to understand or enjoy the other games in the series.
      For some reason, there appear to be a number copies of Myst on the App Store and Steam, along with its sequel:

      Riven
      Riven is the game that added depth to Myst. I may be looking through nostalgia tinted glasses but this is the game that I'd recommend to anyone who could only play one Myst game.
      As soon as you start the game and find yourself trapped in some tiny prison cell, you know that this is not Myst Island. The detail in the scenery is leagues more advanced and, for lack of a better way of putting it, the world looks real. And then, when a soldier steps into view and is suddenly surprised to find someone locked in the cell, you know you're not alone this time around. Right off the bat you get the impression that this isn't the plasticy pseudo-real world of Myst Island, and that feeling is only reinforced as you play and explore. From glowing fireflies that flit around you as you trek down a jungle path, to the Sunners, Wharks, and other strange creatures that you come across during your journey; from an empty schoolhouse where children learn lessons through games based on a harsh reality, to the hidden signs of an underground resistance; from a human arm reaching out from concealment to turn a siren and warn of your approach, to a distant mother grabbing her playing child and running off to hide as soon as you step into view, Riven is a living, breathing world. And you are an interloper.
      As was the case in Myst, movement in Riven is perceived through transitioning fullscreen prerendered images, but the detail of the scenes in these images is astronomically, sharper, crisper, simply better. It's like comparing Pixar's very early cartoons to Toy Story 2. Animations are done similar to Myst, overlaying an animated image over the scene. However, this time, the animations are much smoother, can be far larger, and blend into the scene much more smoothly, creating a far more convincing world. And then there's the traveling animations. When you travel from one island to another (there are five in Riven, four of which you'll get to know so well that your wife will become envious), you are treated to an enjoyable fullscreen animation of what can only be described as a roller-coaster simulator as your little vehicle dips and swooshes you to the next leg of your journey.
      Puzzles in Riven are rarely the simple thought exercises of Myst. In fact, few are obvious puzzles to begin with. Most are better not actually thought of as puzzles but as objectives that you need to accomplish to proceed and require a carefully thought out approach. These provide a much more satisfying sense of accomplishment when you succeed. If you've played Obduction, which was largely developed by former Myst series devs, then you'll have an idea of the type of challenges that Riven throws at you. Most of Rivens "puzzles" don't feel like puzzles but part of the world, and some will have you trekking from island to island to achieve a single goal, even if you don't realise it as the time. The story itself is somewhat conveyed passively through journal entries that you'll discover along the way. This will become a staple of the Myst series.
      Ultimately, I would say that Riven is the cream of the Myst crop. It's Mass Effect 2 to the Mass Effect series; The Empire Strikes Back to the Original Trilogy. It's what you get when you give a team all the resources that they could ask for and a million customers yelling, "Shut up and take my money!" At least, for the time, it was.

      Myst III: Exile
      Honestly, I feel that exile was trying to be another Riven but just couldn't quite live up to its predecessor. That isn't to say that it isn't still pretty good; it still looks, feels, and tastes like a Myst game, and for releasing in 2001 when point-n-click games were on their way out, it deserves all the points that it can get for sticking with the tried-and-true Myst formula while trying to innovate the formula's implementation.
      The world in Exile consists of a hub island and three very differently themed Ages ranging from mechanical to repetitive experimentation to nature. The basic idea behind this world-whose-name-I-honestly-cannot-remember and the three Ages is that Atrus created them to teach Sirrus and Achenar lessons about how all of the aspects of literal world building fit together so they could learn the art of writing Ages themselves. Much like in Riven, the Mechanical and Natural Ages feel more like quests to achieve a goal (even if only to proceed and see what comes next) rather than obvious puzzles, and you'll be experimenting with different amounts of pressure to inflate a blimp without popping it or using an array of light-focusing plants to direct a beam at a target. The Experimental Age, however, is just that: a series of large set-piece puzzles that are designed to look like puzzles where each will have you attempting it several times to discover how it works and what you need to do to change the result, whether that be adjusting weights or varying resonating sound emitters.
      Once again, the story is largely conveyed through journal entries, sometimes containing private thoughts and other times deliberately left to taunt you and justify the actions of a madman. Or maybe he's just angry. Very, very angry. Angry enough to spend decades planning revenge. So yeah, there's an obvious villain this time, who taunts you every so often while trying to convince you that he's in the right. He also likes to leave murals on the walls in the Ages, so keep an eye out for those.
      Again, Exile portrays movement via scene transitions. However, instead of having different flat prerendered images for the different directions, each position in the game has full XYZ-axis mouselook. It's like the camera is in the centre of a hollow sphere and the entire prerendered scene is projected upon its inner surface, giving the illusion that you're actually standing there and can look in any direction you want, as long as you don't move. Kind of like those 360 degree photos/videos you occasionally see in your Facebook feed that move with your phone, or using the Switch to manipulate the first-person view in Breath of the Wild by moving the Switch around. Moving in any direction will change the scene to reflect the 360 degree view from that position. Animations, again, feel like an overlay job but are very well done, making the entire scene feel more dynamic. Had the developer opted for less graphical detail, I think they could have actually made a full 3D world capable of being realised on the consoles of 2001.

      Myst IV: Revelation
      Revelation is very much like Exile except the narrative focuses more on characters. In particular, the brothers Sirrus and Achenar and the Ages that they were trapped in when we first met them way back in Myst. The "Revelation" is that they're still kicking and causing trouble. Surprise! This chapter in the Myst series, I feel, is one of the shortest, Myst aside. There are essentially three Ages and a hub world (again), though the final Age is locked till you complete the other two for the reason of plot, which is fine with me; I found the third Age to be lacking and bland compared to the other two, so let's focus on those. One Age is more vibrant and living. Based in a jungle, signs of life and death are ever present, culminating in a theme of the predator-prey struggle to survive. Traveling through this Age and unfolding the story of the brother who was trapped here, you learn more about his decent into madness and despair as his regrets weigh on him as well as his eventual struggle to redeem himself. The other Age is colder, darker and unfolds the tale of the other brother who was trapped there and how his banishment only fueled his lust for revenge, mastering the world's elements for his own plots and showing that a madman with nothing left but vengeance can accomplishment anything. Both Ages nicely reflect the personalities of their respective former prisoners and, once again, the thoughts and machinations of each are conveyed through the journal entries that they left behind.
      The puzzles in Revelation, as with Riven and Exile feel more like goals to accomplish in order to proceed, making each age somewhat linear, even though you'll be backtracking a fair bit to find clues and toggle switches. I found that several of these "puzzles" were a step or two above those we've seen before, especially from Exile, and I got a real sense of accomplishment from completing them. By the end of each Age, you'll find that the Age itself was a massive multi-faceted puzzle.
      As with Exile, Revelations is graphically beautiful but still opts to use the prerendered 360 degree views rather than an actual 3D world. Movement and interaction is still the same as in Exile to the point that I can't really find much else to say on it.
      All in all, Revelations feels a lot like Exile but with a bit more puzzle difficulty and a little less substance, though it does focus almost entirely on Sirrus and Achenar as you follow them through their madness to reveal their pasts, so I guess it could be viewed as an origin story.

      Myst V: End of Ages
      I honestly never got far into this one. I have it on Steam but I've just never sat down to play it for long. Unlike the aforementioned Myst games, EoA uses full 3D environments instead of the traditional prerendered graphics but I just haven't been able to get excited about it. Maybe it was that the 2005 3D graphics simply couldn't hold up against past games' beautiful prerendered scenes. As far as story goes, you're going to be lost if you don't play the others first, so start with those and then try EoA if you make it this far.

      Last edited 11/04/18 10:22 am

        What a superb write-up. :)

        The only thing I'd add is that Myst 3 contains a performance by a well-known actor...

        Brad Dourif

        :)

          Thanks. I didn't know that about the actor.

          I should have added that the Myst novel The Book of Atrus contains the backstory to understand the story behind Myst and Riven. It's pretty much the prequel book. Also, if I remember from the promo merch I have boxed up somewhere, Riven was originally going to be called Myst: The Fifth Age, which may explain some of why the D'ni character for 5 is so common throughout the game.

            While the explanation is clearer in The Book of Atrus, Riven still gave an explanation for that character.

            In the journal one gets at the start of the game, it states Gehn never bothered to name his Ages, he simply numbered them and Riven was his fifth.

            A wonderful world, but not a stable one given Gehn only transcribing (copying) from other Age books found in the ruins of D'ni (both the game and The Book of Atrus point this out).

            Also, later in the game one does find one of Gehn's journals where he learns that the number five holds significance to the D'ni culture.

            Though if I may share, the Myst franchise does have some consistency issues in its lore.

            Full disclosure, I've only finished Myst 1 - 3 and 5 (never finished 4) and Uru (base and expansions), and I've only read the original three books (last I checked years ago, the forth still had not been published).

            That being said, the one element that always annoyed me was the role of the two main books. The main book that described the Age, and the Linking book which was more common and took one there (from memory, the former had to be written and working before any later Linking Book could be attempted).
            .
            Atrus repeatedly pointed out that the D'ni never created these worlds and only links to them. In general, if the Age didn't exist in one's own universe or any other, the description didn't matter. One could not link to something that didn't exist.
            .
            If that was the case, then how could Atrus ever stablise Riven? If what Atrus says is true then the efforts of Riven were a waste. The Cathrine he brought back is not the same Catherine he met in the Book of Atrus.
            .
            If what Atrus said is true, then he was simply shifting though various possibilities of Riven while still modifying Riven's book he's still able to meet the player at the end of the game.
            .
            So maybe Gehn was right all along. Because if Atrus was right then a lot of the story in the later games no longer hold up.

              I need to go back and read The Book of Atrus again. The last time I read it, I was still in primary school in the mid-90's, so I probably didn't grasp as much as I would now. You're right, though; the lore between the books and games is a bit inconsistent.

              YES! Thank you! That's exactly the thing that always bothered me about Age-writing. My understand was that the D'ni adhered to the (near) infinite worlds theory that basically assumed that there are infinite worlds out there, thus, no matter what world was described in the art, as long as it was written correctly, the book would link to a world that matched the writing exactly to the smallest detail. After all, the unburnt books in the Myst Island Library indicate that the Ages existed before Atrus wrote the books, some of them already having inhabitants and established cultures (see the Mechanical, Stoneship, and Channelwood Ages). The cancelled comic book series The Book of the Black Ships also supports this. However, as you said, there are mentions of Atrus actually writing changes into the Ages. In the Stoneship Age where, after linking to the Age and meeting the two boys whom he hadn't written about at all, Atrus attempted to write a ship into the age. Even though he goofed it and the ship was broken in two, this establishes that one can literally write changes into an Age. Unless, as you suggest, writing changes into the book actually redirects it to a different possible reality of the same Age. If this is the case, the fact that the boys still remembered Atrus after he linked to the new reality would suggest that that reality (and likely any number of others) had its own Atrus. This raises the question... why haven't we ever heard about characters meeting themselves? Say, Atrus writing a linking book to a slightly different version of Myst Island; would he link there to discover a slightly different version of himself from that reality?

              Is Myst V worth getting into again. Is the story captivating? Are the puzzles up to the Myst standard? Should I give it another shot?

                Because I can't jump in earlier, I'd almost say Myst 3: Exile would be the one I'd pick if someone had to jump into the game now. It's a bit less obtuse than Riven and just more accommodating for a wider audience. If you want the most brutal puzzles though, Riven all the way.

                Also, not mentioned: Uru: Ages Beyond Myst. Remember buying that for Mum and loading it up, only to hear the following: "What the fuck is this."

                Cannot remember my family being so universally disgusted at a game until then.

                  Also, not mentioned: Uru: Ages Beyond Myst.

                  Considering that one of the puzzles requires the user to just stand still for about an hour, this comes as no surprise.

                  I swear, Uru was made just so Rand Miller could troll the fan base.

                  As for Myst 3, that is a good one to start. According to the making of (which came on the DVD version), the creation of the "learning" age was both a plot device but also so that Exile could be a Myst game anyone could play.

                  And this is where I'll stop as I'm starting to show myself more obsessed than anything else with this franchise.

                  Then again, Myst is the reason I mostly write with a fountain pen and an actual moleskin notebook!

                  Uru: carry this lit torch but don’t you dare cross this 12-inch-wide, 2-inch-deep stream lest the violent current put the torch out!

                  Me: ...FUCK OFF!

                Sorry, I mis-read your post earlier post.

                As for Myst 5, you're not missing much. If anything the game is more angst than Shakespearian in the story.

                Not to give too much away, but I was wanting to place Yeesha's hand on a Linking Book to Riven by the time the ending came.

                  Lol. I assume you say that because the end of Riven left the entire Age being collapsed into the rift and sending her there would be akin to firing her into a black hole. Can we do this with Conner from AssCreed 3 as well?

        You're an absolute champion for writing all that up! You've also completely sold me to go back and play through them next chance I get.

          My work is done here.

          One of us! One of us! One of us!

    New thread, because comments got too far: @wisehacker, thoughts on Obduction?

      Christ! I really need to get back to that game!

      I started it back when it launched then a murderous large and critically urgent work task came up.

      From what a saw though, it is basically a return to the roots of the Myst formula. Which I think is a good thing.

      I can't say much more as I honestly only put an hour or so into that game. I can't even remember what puzzles there were.

        It’s pretty sweet. Definite Myst level puzzles and worlds. Though a couple puzzles went too far I think. When you have to learn to count in a base-4 system or make actual cutouts to plan the solution to a huge turntable puzzle, it goes from fun to tedium. Still feel accomplished when you figure it out but still tedious. Satisfying ending though, and good mechanics.

      I really enjoyed Obduction. Right up until my progress was completely blocked by the minecart bug that kept warping me into the rock at the end of the track. The patch that was supposed to fix it, didn't - for me. Their recommendation was that I start from the beginning again - I didn't have the patience back then. I think enough time has passed now that I won't start raging at the screen as I get stuck on a puzzle I solved a year ago.

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