The most interesting thing about MYST is that the plot is not revealed. As in life, the player is forced to determine where to go and what to do. There are no clues in the scant instructions for the game to indicate what lies ahead, only instructions on how to get around and look at objects.
The visual effects are no less spectacular. While there are few moving animations other than those resulting from the player manipulating particular objects within the game, the detail of the still shots of world is breath-taking. Gone are the days of blocky pixel graphics in arcade games. Though the quality of the graphics in MYST bely their computer-generated origins, they are captivatingly realistic for such work.
The answer, as with the answer to many questions, is that MYST's ability to deliver what is promised really depends on the player's expectations. If one is expecting moving scenes and smooth motion through the scenes as walking over the terrain of the island, disappointment will result. Scene transitions are from one still shot to another for the most part. A walk through the park it is not (if you will excuse the word play on a cliché).
There is also a sense within MYST that events unfold depending on what the player does. Things are revealed, mysteries discovered and solved, as the player wanders the land and trhough time. Certainly this lends to the feeling of reality to the game. Of course, it is only a computer program and, as such, is strictly deterministic about what the player can manipulate and what effects those manipulations will have. Taken at face value, such an observation would seem to discredit any claims of reality within the game at all. However, I think it is only a matter of degrees that separates MYST (or any other computer game for that matter) from reality. Determinism is a philosophical theory that has existed for many centuries. While the manifestation of determinism as the ultimate truth is questionable, one must admit that the real world does have very deterministic characteristics. If I walk to a door and have a key, I can open the door and discover what is behind it, else I am forced to search other opportunities. Such is the case within any computer program. Life, though much more complicated than any computer program, can be said to consist of many conditional statements that effect what course our actions will yield. While one expecting the ablility to leave the island in frustration to explore other parts of the world will be extremely disappointed and have feelings of restriction of actions, the player who enters play with the understanding of the limitations of a computer-generated reality on a microcomputer will be enthralled. (Face it, even if the programmers had the computing power to generate an entire world for the player to explore instead of a single island and the player had a powerful enough computer to play it, we would likely never see the finished product in our lifetime due to magnitudes of scale. What fun is a vaporware game to play no matter how sophisticated and life-like it supposedly will be?)