This perception is heightened by the total lack of a human presence. There are characters in this world -- we receive written messages from them, read their journals, and are harangued by two unstable specimens who are imprisoned in books. But the overall feeling is one of isolation and abandonment.
The music reinforces the surreal nature of the setting. As objects from different times give us a sense of uneasiness, so does the music mix -- new age and primitive sounds.
Upon entering the game and island of Myst, the user feels that he/she has entered a world which takes on or reveals meaning as a result of his/her own actions. The meaning of the game and nature of the quest are not apparent. It seems a place of infinite possibilities. The user can wander about at leisure and at random, manipulating objects in an effort to effect some change in the environment. There are several means of travelling to manifestations of Myst in other times, some of them obvious -- a rocketship, a sailing vessel.
Time-travel in Myst is one of its wonderful nonlinearities. One doesn't know, even when one arrives, whether one has travelled into the future or into the past. The worlds are similarly abaondoned and show considerable signs of neglect. And it is not necessary to undertake the journeys in any particular order. It doesn't much matter whether one figures out how to travel using the rocketship before or after using the sailing vessel. The operation of these vehicles is based on contextual clues. Clues to operating these objects are found by exploring Myst and by reading journals in the library and making use of information found in journals residing on library bookshelves. Part of the sense of adventure in this process derives from the perception that one is creating one own's meaning through an individual experience with Myst.
However, despite the foregoing, Myst is ultimately determinist. There is an underlying truth here -- the programmer's vision and contrivance of what constitutes truth. Myst teases us with the possibilities of a truly contextual experience -- one in which we can create our own meaning -- our own" story about the game -- through the unique way we confront and make decisions about options we face in this strange world. But the Myst experience is ultimately constrained by the lack of true contingency inherent in a "programmed" experience. I have yet to finish the game; but will the outcome change depending on what action is taken by the player? I think not. The experience of Myst is a search for unambiguous resolutions to a series of small riddles -- resolutions often reached through circular and non-linear experimentation. And ultimately if there are multiple resolutions to the final question or riddle posed by MYST, even those contingencies are circumscribed to a known, definable few by the programmers. Myst raises one large question about the reach and limits of simulated reality: In a binary world, are there any true contingencies? A game like Myst can create a nicely satisfying, more richly textured and nuanced experience of "truth" discovery. The "truth" discovered, however, is pre-ordained, imbedded in silicon no less firmly than the tablets of Sinai. Ultimately, like rats in a maze, we may create our own unique experience -- the wholly peculiar pattern of twists and turns, starts and retreats, that comprise our experience of the game. Finally however, we find the correct exit(s)...or perish.