One of the main pastimes of my childhood was playing Atari games such as Asteroids, Pac-Man, and Space Invaders. My favorite game by far, however, was the adventure game aptly titled Venture. I have always been intrigued by games that involve sleuthing around new and different worlds, which was why the CD-ROM MYST appealed to me. Although we got it for a Christmas gift, I avoided playing MYST until it was absolutely necessary for this project. I had a feeling that I would probably find myself engrossed in it and completely lose track of the hours that passed. I was right.
The most striking aspect of MYST is the graphics. The island that I found myself transported to was dazzling. My journey began at a wooden dock that overlooked a green sea. Birds were flying above, and their squawking mingled with the sound of the water gently lapping against the dock. As I walked up the slate gray steps, I saw a huge wheel-like structure on a nearby hill. In addition to the water, there were large mountains and tall trees that made up the surrounding landscape.
I found a variety of interesting places to visit on the island. As I walked up from the dock, I came to a circular gray marbled building encircled by columns. The purpose of the structure was not apparent at first, although something similar to a dentist's chair sat in the center of the only room in the building. Upon further investigation, the reason for the existence of the building became known.
Just up the path was a building which contained a library. It had rich dark wood paneling throughout, which conveyed the feeling of being in a library. Many items of a curious nature were found within the walls of the building. Also, the use of quick time video was employed in this section of the CD-ROM.
A hauntingly beautiful scene awaited me as I stepped out of the library. A grassy walkway meandered down a hill; it was lined with stone columns and tall, thin trees. A pool of water sat in a basin part way down the hill. The path became more rugged towards the bottom of the hill, and ended with a view of a clock tower sitting in the water.
The extreme detail and thought that went into creating the scenes of MYST was apparent the minute the game began. The empty journal that accompanied the CD-ROM had only a few words of advice, including: "You must let Myst become your world". Based on the spectacular visual effects found in the game, it did not take long to realize how easy it would be to follow the above recommendation. If only the puzzles to solve were that simple.
Moving around in MYST was accomplished with the mouse. This was an extremely straightforward process that required little explanation. Moving the pointer in the desired direction helped get me to where I wanted to go. One time-saving feature was Zip Mode. This allowed me to quickly move to the places I had already been before.
The eeriest aspect of the game was the sense of isolation that I felt. Besides the occasional birds and butterflies that I chanced upon, there was no other human contact on the island of Myst. Although it was apparent from notes and journals that others had been in the same places before, I was all alone. Being the only character around was not necessarily a bad thing, since that meant no one else was there to try to kill me. The non-violent nature of MYST added to its appeal. However, this does not mean that everything was cheery and bright. There were definitely some areas with dark undertones. These areas were further accentuated by the sounds linked with them.
The outer packaging of MYST is quite enticing. A mysterious-looking overview of the island is shown on the front of the box, along with the declaration that MYST is a "surrealistic adventure". Colorful screen shots from the game are seen on the back of the box, along with a description of what a journey into MYST entails. Overall, the packaging gave an accurate description of what to expect from the game.
According to the product literature, MYST is intended for an older audience. I would agree, and also suggest that the literature recommend persistence and a good attention span. The game is not as fast-paced as some kids would probably prefer. Personally, I especially liked the fact that the user does not need to have lightning-quick responses. Also, as mentioned earlier, it is not one of the typical kill-or-be-killed games that are so prevalent today. That particular characteristic may appeal more to an older player than to a younger one. I think that older teenagers would enjoy MYST as well. The developers have made MYST challenging enough to keep the interest of adults aroused for some time; it is both interesting and visually pleasing.
Based on all of the wonderful things that I had heard and read about MYST, I expected somewhat of a let down since things are hardly ever as great as the hype that precedes them. I am happy to report that I experienced no such disappointment. The game completely won me over, mainly because of the sensational graphics, the engrossing puzzles, and the fact that I really felt like I was there.