Documenting Myst


Commercially and critically, Myst was an overwhelming success. Critics cite the game as elevating the medium to one worth considering as an art form. The game appealed to "non-gamers" and those considering purchasing a computer due to its lack of violence, death, and "game over" failure states that were ubiquitous in video games of the era. Authors Henry Jenkins and Lev Manovich both praised Myst as a series and expressed the belief that the games showed the potential of new media in the creation of heretofore unimagined art.

This 2008 retrospective review from Wired magazine highlights the majority opinion on how great Myst was for its time and how it changed the gaming scene. Reviewer Chris Kohler gives a brief background on the two brothers Rand and Robyn Miller who founded Cyan Worlds in 1987 and created the iconic game Myst in 1993. Kohler also explains how CD-ROMs were not popular at the time of Myst's release due to their cost vs. perceived value. When Myst was released, people were awestruck over the stunning imagery this game contained with its pre-rendered 3D models and hyper-attention to detail. Also worth noting, this was a time where PC gaming was more efficient over console gaming and preferred. Chris Kohler describes how the game was accessible, challenging, and offered a variety of consistent levels to navigate. He mentions how Myst ended up becoming the world’s best-selling computer game selling around 6 million copies until EA/Maxis' The Sims overtook it in 2002.

This review from Computer Gaming World magazine comes from the December 1993 issue (no. 113) and is written by Christopher Breen. While a number/star score is not given, Breen clearly asserts that Myst is an excellent game, pushing the boundaries of the CD-ROM technology that was available at the time of its publishing.

Breen begins the review with a synopsis of Myst’s plot. He makes a point to note that very little direction is given to the player, especially at the start when one is just suddenly standing on a pier. Indeed, even the brief description of the plot Breen offers may well be never pieced together by a player, as he really only covers the part that a player can see in the short video in the secret room off the dock, and it’s not a given that every player will find that.

Breen continues the review by discussing the game’s development on the HyperCard system. He mentions that most of the CD-ROM Mac games of the time are created with Macromedia’s Director, and so he found it worth mentioning that the Miller Brothers chose to stick with the older HyperCard system. Apparently, Director comes with more robust animation tools, but the processing time suffers greatly on the already slow CD-ROM technology. So, Myst’s animations are all shown within QuickTime windows integrated into the 3D rendered stills that make up Myst’s game world.

As far as complaints go, Breen had few. However, he did want to say that on occasion, the point and click controls could be a little inconsistent when navigating an area. This inconsistency resulted in disorientation at times within the map. More specifically, when navigating left or right, sometimes the player is turned 90 degrees, and sometimes 180, which could get confusing when the imagery looks very similar. Breen’s second complaint was about the way Myst handles saving. When loading a save, a player is transported to the start location of a scenario. It doesn’t undo previous actions, but trekking back to the puzzle one was working on can be cumbersome. Breen found that it was helpful to have a save located back on Myst island so that when stuck on a puzzle in an Age, he could load the save on the island and check the library for clues. Then, when loading back into the Age save, he would need to travel all the way through to the puzzle again. It was a quality-of-life annoyance, but a valid complaint nonetheless.

All in all, Breen declares Myst to be an instant CR-ROM classic. He praises the visuals, sound design, puzzle gameplay, and plot as brilliant and unlike other games available at the time.

This Nintendo Life review for 2012’s 3DS port of Myst was written by Martin Watts in an October 2013 article on the Nintendo Life website. Watts begins the review by discussing the tradition of porting old games onto newer hardware. Overall, he praises the practice for making older games more accessible to newer audiences or allowing older players to relive old favorites on newer, more streamlined hardware. However, he laments the trend of publishers porting old games and do an extraordinarily poor job of it.

Unfortunately, Watts says, Myst’s 3DS port falls into this category. The visuals were not optimized for the 3DS’ screen, rendering them murky, pixelated, and in such a low resolution that the important textual information contained with the various books and notes in the game are completely illegible. At best, it’s upsetting to think about how beautiful the images once were, and at worst, it renders several of the puzzles in the game unsolvable. Receiving a brief mention, the audio quality too is exceptionally bad, which also makes several puzzles in the game difficult if not impossible to solve.

And while one might think that a touchscreen device would be a natural fit for a point and click adventure, the developer of this particular port opted to place the gameplay on the upper, non-touch screen, and require the player to move a cursor around with the 3DS joystick. While Watts concedes that precision is often not all that necessary for movement in Myst, it’s needlessly difficult for when it is required during tasks such as pushing a button or flipping a switch. Watts notes that had the game been using the 3D feature, he may have understood the decision to put the gameplay on the upper, 3D capable screen. However, it doesn’t. The game doesn’t use 3D, nor does it make use of the touch controls.

Watts emphasizes several times throughout the review that the game Myst is conceptually brilliant and still worth playing. However, if one has the option to play it elsewhere, the 3DS version is best avoided. Watts gives Myst for 3DS a 1/10.

Although Myst was mostly praised, this review written by Cyril Lachel in July 2004 shows that even back in the early 2000s, Myst had its strong critics. This reviewer despises the game, and in the spirit of fairness, they give plenty of reasoning for it. What is disappointing with this review is its lack of focus on the quality of the Atari Jaguar CD port of Myst that is being reviewed.

The Atari Jaguar was quite an obscure console in itself, and the CD-ROM add-on peripheral for it even more so. It would have been interesting to get an in depth look at such an uncommon port of the game, but the review fails to deliver on that end. Instead, we get rantings from the reviewer on why Myst is absolutely terrible, which is admittedly still entertaining to read. Lachel posits that Myst was successful not due to its merits as a game but mainly because of its ability to show off what CD-ROM based games were capable of. Lachel also boldly claims that consumers who own CD-ROM drives would purchase Myst simply to flaunt it to their friends. This review may not be incredibly professional, but it is still worth analyzing because it shows an uncommon perspective on the game in a review pool filled mostly with resounding praise.

In addition to the review above, this article also highlights how not everyone was a fan of Myst. Reviewer Anthony Fordham begins the article by comparing musician Mike Oldfield, who created the album Tubular Bells and went on to become a British music icon to the Miller Brothers, the creators of Myst. Fordham criticizes the game's graphics, stating it has “postcard-like still-image environments” without any animation. The author contrasts these graphics with those of one of Myst's contemporaries, Doom that allows a player to traverse in real-time through a game environment, enhancing immersion. He then goes on to explain how the “experienced” gamers of the 90s were expecting Myst to deliver on those animated graphics. Myst appealed primarily to "non-gamers," which left the traditional crowd disappointed.

This highly critical review of the PS3 and PSP releases of Myst comes from DefunctGames once again. Originally posted on the day of the game's release, May 18th, 2012, Cyril Lachel wasted no time sharing his thoughts on the new Myst port. The start of the review gives some background for Myst. Lachel claims that the game was not well received and how it was more of a slideshow than a game. He says Myst was directed at “suckers with too much money in the 1990s.” A major point that Lachel repeatedly comes back to is how pretentious he thinks the game is. He says that the puzzles are not worth solving since the resolution of the game is “annoyingly pretentious.”

As for his review of the ports themselves, Lachel thought they “[weren’t] half bad,” and “seem[ed] solid enough.” Since the graphics are all still images, he thought they weren’t bad either. He continues to describe the game as bad but gives slight praise to the port staying faithful to the original. Overall, Lachel’s verdict was that if you like Myst already and, “don’t mind the pretentious writing and nonsensical puzzles,” then these are good versions to buy. Lachel calls Myst a “non-game snoozefest,” giving the PS3 and PSP ports of Myst a final grade of F.

This review, written by Grey Carter in November 2015, takes a retrospective look at the classic version of Myst. To start off this review, the reviewer states that Myst “plays like a PowerPoint presentation running on your gran’s spyware-infested Dell.” The reviewer does not think that Myst is a fun experience by today’s standards and that it aged poorly. What makes this review have some credibility is that the reviewer understands the impact and significance of Myst when it was released and its legacy living in adventure games today. Carter, for example, goes into detail about how there are elements of Myst’s design in later hit game series such as Resident Evil and Tomb Raider. With its lack of monsters, inventory, and fail conditions, Myst was the first game to simplify the adventure genre and make it accessible to a wide audience. This review does a great job of explaining that Myst should be viewed as an interesting time capsule piece and not necessarily as a game that can compete with modern games or even other games from the same era. 

realMyst, released in 2000, then re-released as realMyst: Masterpiece Edition in 2014, is a fresh coat of paint on an older game. realMyst is playable on computers and mobile devices running iOS or Android. This remaster takes the classic point and click 2D adventure and brings it into 3D space. The game receives a few new features as a result of this such as enhanced graphics, free-roam movement, and an entirely new Age to explore called Rime. It is a faithful remaster of the classic Myst.

realMyst's updated visuals are praised, and the game is described as immersive by many. Steven Ogden, the lead art director of realMyst, describes the difference between the remaster and original as “varied and pronounced as the difference between looking at postcards from a place and actually going there in person" (Jong). Myst's world lends itself to 3D well, showing that the developers thought ahead even when making the original (6).

Unfortunately, both versions of realMyst suffer from frequent crashes and issues with frame-rate consistency. Ian Macleod, known on YouTube as "Brutalmoose," describes encountering these issues in his video review of the game. At one point during the review, he says, “If my prayers to the gods of Myst weren’t phrased in the specific way that they desired, the game crashed" (MacLeod). Another issue often cited with realMyst is the control scheme on the mobile versions. Cody Orme, an author at CGMagazine, states in his review that the player would often drift on their own without input, making navigation difficult. realMyst's Masterpiece Edition release suffered from a lack of new content, as well as the issues that haunted its predecessor. As Melissa Welliver of TechRaptor explains, the game will cater to fans of the series and draw in new ones with the graphics, but not offer anything new (Welliver). The audio had no change either. The reused sound and music mixed old with new in a way that felt strange and out of place (Orme).

Overall the realMyst got good reception and was praised for its strength in graphics and looks, while ridiculed for its faulty controls and frequent crashing. In general, the consensus is that the original Myst is still the better of the two (or four if including the masterpiece editions) games. It is generally stated also that playing it on a computer - the original medium - gives a better experience overall.

This video essay-style review from YouTube user Clayburn Griffin published in 2017 features a detailed review of Myst as a game, but also gives an in-depth look on the differences between realMyst: Masterpiece Edition and the original version of the game. Griffin begins by demonstrating the difference in visuals by showing the opening cutscene for both Myst and realMyst: Masterpiece Edition, the latter of which is rendered in a higher definition. He then goes on to discuss an innovation on realMyst: Masterpiece Edition’s design––the ability to choose a control scheme. This feature differs from Myst’s original controls (which were unchangeable) as realMyst: Masterpiece Edition allows a player to either adhere to the original's point and click, or use modern first-person movement. This creates a uniquely new experience, as you’re able to explore the world of Myst in a more dynamic way. realMyst: Masterpiece Edition also boasts crisp graphics that refresh the game's iconic environment while still capturing the feel of the original world in mesmerizing detail. Griffin makes a note to address the design from the original––touting the clever use of imagery through the limited frame-rate to help convey a realistically deep world.

This review, written by Hayden Dingman in 2014, discusses the launch of realMyst: Masterpiece Edition from a technical standpoint. Dingman starts by touching on his experiences with Myst as an early game experience in his childhood. He then launches into a discussion of realMyst: ME as a remaster, mentioning the age of the original's port (Myst: Masterpiece Edition) and then carrying on into the concept of remastering and porting games in general, citing it as an important means of game archival, as well as the potential for enhancing older games with more modern technology. The original Myst is built on the deprecated HyperCard system, while realMyst: ME runs on the Unity game engine, a very much alive system.

Dingman does note some disappointing aspects of this remaster, such as issues with frame-rate consistency, and also discusses how jarring the updated graphics can be at times when juxtaposed with the extremely iconic scenery of Myst's game world.

“The most confusing part, actually, is that you have these amazing graphics on a game that conceptually feels so '90s. -- What I mean is Myst's fantastical hub world, Myst Island, smashes together elements from four or five very different design schools, and this clashing juxtaposition of the various ages both makes Myst Island visually fascinating and makes it a relic of a type of '90s hodge-podge design that's largely disappeared—and that no amount of high-res textures can cover up. Nowadays games, especially puzzle games, value a coherency or cohesiveness to the environmental designs that just isn't present in Myst.” 

Dingman describes this culmination of design as coming together to create a mystifying collection of thematic aspects and refers to it as a unique and deeply thoughtful design. Despite this, he does not consider realMyst: ME to be the “definitive edition” of the game. He cites important optimization issues as his reasoning, and recommends looking back towards the Myst: Masterpiece Edition port instead, suggesting that it’s “optimized better, and costs much less.”

Levi Buchanan's review covers the PSP port of Myst. Buchanan is immediately much happier about this game’s release than DefunctGames was. He describes how Myst “defined a genre at a critical time in gaming history.” He describes the PSP port as being faithful to the original, while acknowledging its added features such as an upgraded widescreen display, as well as an extra Age that was excluded from the original release. Buchanan warns the reader that if they didn’t like Myst when it came out, or if they don’t like slow-paced games, then this port likely won't change their mind.

Buchanan criticizes the port's long loading times and interface issues, but claims the game's puzzles and storytelling make up for these problems. Another criticism Buchanan has is that the PSP’s D-pad and analog control "nub" can be inaccurate, making it hard for a player to get the cursor exactly where they want it to go.

Buchanan’s final verdict is that the PSP port of Myst is good despite the load times and finicky controls. He recommends this port for those who want to see what the hype of 1993 was all about, or simply for those who enjoy retro games.

Works Cited

Breen, Christopher. “A Spectacle Not To Be Myst.” Review of Myst. Computer Gaming World, Dec. 1993, pp. 144-146.

Buchanan, Levi. “Myst Review.” IGN, 10 May 2012,

Carter, Grey. “Myst - Mystery Man.” The Escapist, 28 Nov. 2015, v1.

Dingman, Hayden. “realMyst: Masterpiece Edition Review: The Same Myst You Know and Love, but Prettier.” PCWorld, 22 Mar. 2014,

Fordham, Anthony. “Looking Back on Myst, and the Aftermath of Its Unbridled Success.” PC Gamer, Future US, 26 July 2018,

Griffin, Clayburn, director. RealMyst vs Myst. YouTube, 27 Sept. 2017,

HARDEST PUZZLE GAME OF 1993 | RealMYST: Masterpiece Edition #1.” YouTube, Trauma, 20 July 2016,

Kohler, Chris. “Sept. 24, 1993: Beautiful 'Myst' Ushers In Era of CD-ROM Gaming.” Wired, Conde Nast, 24 Sept. 2008,

Jong, Philip. “realMyst.” Adventure Classic Gaming, 7 Jan. 2001 updated 15 Feb. 2014,

Lachel, Cyril. “Myst Review for Jaguar (1995).” Defunct Games, 25 July 2004,

---. “Myst (PSone Classics) Review for PlayStation 3 (2012).” Defunct Games, 18 May 2012,

Macleod, Ian, director. "RealMyst: Masterpiece Edition - Lightning Round." YouTube, 27 Feb. 2014,

Miller, Rand and Robyn.  “RealMyst.” Cyan, Cyan Inc.,

Orme, Cody. “RealMyst Review – A Faithful Adaptation.” CGMagazine, 21 Feb. 2018,

RealMyst Android GamePlay (By Noodlecake Studios Inc).” YouTube, AndroidGameplay4You, 26 Jan. 2017,

Watts, Martin. “Myst Review.” Review of Myst for the Nintendo 3DS system. Nintendo Life, 6 Oct. 2013. Accessed 21 Mar. 2020

Welliver, Melissa. “RealMyst: Masterpiece Edition (PC) Review.” TechRaptor, 20 Feb. 2014,


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