Myst celebrates 25 years with a 7-game collectors box

Cutting edge, circa 1993

As much as we love to snark about Myst and its obtuse puzzles around here, it’s hard to deny the nearly 25-year-old adventure series’ influence on the industry. Developers Cyan are aiming to celebrate the upcoming anniversary with the release of a boxed collectors edition release of all seven games in the series, polished up, tweaked and tuned to make them all play nice with modern machines and all wrapped up in some very authentic-looking packaging.

The collection includes the original Myst both in it’s pre-rendered and free-roaming ‘RealMyst’ formats, Riven (Myst 2), Myst 3: Exile, Myst 4: Revelation, Myst 5: End of Ages and Uru: Complete Chronicles, a slightly tweaked offline variant of the ill-fated (but still fan-maintained) MMO spinoff Uru Live. While most of these have been available through the likes of GOG for some time, Myst 3 and 4 are being updated specifically for this re-release. And yes, that’s only 6 games, but Cyan are counting RealMyst as its own thing.

While Cyan initially turned to Kickstarter to see whether there was enough interest to justify the production costs on this fancy collectors edition, they sailed past their required £175,000 funding target within just eight hours, proving that the Myst name still carries some clout, and effectively turning the Kickstarter into a glorified preorder page. It’s not surprise that all 25 of their unique numbered copies (each including an original design sketch from Riven, and costing $1,000 a pop) were snapped up instantly by eager hoarders and collectors.

While there is a digital-only option to get downloadable versions of all games bundled together for $49/£35 (available in August), the focus of this anniversary release is the extra-fancy boxed edition, shaped like the iconic Myst book. There are two versions of it: One made of mere cardboard, priced at $99/£70, and an extra-fancy version with an LCD video screen built into the box that shows famous scenes from all the games when the book is opened. Unsurprisingly, this costs a lot, and bumps up the price to $169/£120. These editions, plus one more hellaciously expensive $250/£177 variant including the inkwell and pen used by Riven’s antagonist, Gehn, are due to be shipping out sometime in November.

While the Windows 10-friendly updates to all games will be available to buy normally via GOG or Steam once they’re finished and polished up, the collectors edition boxes are apparently a one-time-only release. I’ve never been a fan of Myst myself (or point-and-click adventures in general, outside of a rare handful), but the series was instrumental in establishing a new sub-genre in adventure games, and driving more studios to make CD-only games packed to the gills with extraneous video and hammy acting. Games with that kind of lasting influence are few and far between, putting it alongside the likes of Half-Life and Minecraft, whether or not you get along with its particular brand of puzzling.

For those interested more in Cyan’s future, they also recently announced Firmament, a VR-centric adventure that looks to carry on the legacy of Myst. Expect to press buttons, pull levers and wonder what the hell any of that did once more, now with a silly pair of goggles strapped to your bonce.

50 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    After trying many different games of the saga for oh so many times, I say that it’s not the graphics, it’s not the narrative, it’s not the puzzles. Those are fine, even for today. But the walks, the walks through narrow paths, where you have to guess if you can turn somewhere to push a button, where part of the gameplay is locating hidden paths, where backtracking, which usually is considered one of the worst sins in gameplay, is core part here… Browsing through screens, going from one place to the other? That is Myst Hell. And sometimes I forget about that, try to play any Myst, or RealMyst, or Myst Exile, or Myst 4, and reality reminds me that even when I like these kind of games, this saga in particular is like having orange juice after brushing your teeth.

    Kickstarter items look pretty, though.

  2. Deano2099 says:

    Shame it doesn’t include the novels – they’re so important to the story of Myst, especially with maybe 4 or 5 referencing them quite heavily. And they were decent books too.

    • EkoAzarak says:

      Ya that might have been nice for a special edition. I read the novels and enjoyed them alot.

    • phlebas says:

      It depends what you mean by important – I gather there’s a lot of backstory in the novels, but the story of each game was pretty self-contained. I enjoyed them all (with the possible exception of Uru, but definitely including III and IV) without feeling I was missing out by not having read the books.

      I agree it’s a bit odd that they aren’t part of the rerelease package, though!

      • PampleMoose says:

        Oh, boy, you should read the books then. Yes, the stories are self contained in the games, but I would say you missing out on a lot of subtext, history, and character motivation for certainly the first three games if you don’t check out the novels.

        As to the Kickstarter, I wasn’t compelled to splash the cash for the book, let alone the inkwell, but boy if I wouldn’t be willing to put up some cash for them to actually publish the Book of Marrim.

  3. klops says:

    What is Myst’s influence on industry? I’m not trying to be snark, witty or anything else like that. I just don’t know since I’ve always stayed away from these (and most likely from the games influenced by Mysts).

    • Xocrates says:

      Even setting aside stuff like helping popularizing cd-roms, it pretty much created a subgenre that’s still going – and diversifying – today. There is a pretty clear line from Myst to stuff like The Witness and Firewatch.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      On a technical level, it led the charge for FMV-heavy games across a multitude of platforms. It sold CD drives on PC, and early CD consoles (or addons) as well.

      As Xocrates pointed out, it also established a whole genre of puzzle-adventures that remained popular for decades. While we can see some of it in the likes of The Witness, there’s also escape-the-room adventures, which often fit more into Myst’s self-contained logic puzzle formula than the traditional point-and-click style.

      Like I said, I may not be a fan of Myst, but it had some real impact.

    • akhv says:

      Myst was the first game where you interact with virtual world direclty with a simple click of a mouse. No need to choose a verb or action, no tiny window inside an overblown interface.
      It was the first modern game in a sense.

      • Premium User Badge

        Risingson says:

        That is not true: it wasn’t the first first person adventure with a simplified interface. Thing is that it was one of the first pure “multimedia experiences”, among with the 7th Guest (which was released a bit before and looked better and I just prefer it).

        But really, Coktel Vision already released many adventures like this. Also: Jeff Tunnel with Rise of the Dragon and Heart of China. And you can see predecessors in all those adventures and puzzle games, and actually I see Myst and 7th Guest more like an “evolution” of Castle of Dr Brain.

        • akhv says:

          It was a quick answer and I guess it should be better thought out and elaborate. Myst lets you not only click directly, but you also get direct feedback. No text blocks about what you see or what happens. You see and listen for yourself as you move through the world. Modern style.

          I didn’t know 7th Guest was released before Myst (by some months it turns out), as I saw it a bit later. I think it didn’t age as well though because of its overall tone. Although back then it was more common then seriousness of Myst.

          • jrodman says:

            The short version is that Myst, while not everyone’s cup of tea, was a good game with depth and engagement and style, while 7th Guest was largely a lot of boring slow animations.

            7th Guest certainly demoed well, but it was not that popular among those who owned it, and certainly didn’t stick with most players afterwards.

    • klops says:

      Thanks for the answers Xoc, Mr. Tarason, Risingson and akhv!

    • Scurra says:

      I suspect that it’s also the Macintosh effect.
      As with many things associated with Apple, it wasn’t the first, nor was it necessarily even the best in genre at the time. But by virtue of being on the Mac, it was adopted and lauded by folk outside of what was still really a hobby industry, like journalists working on national print newspapers.
      So it became known widely outside of the bubble. And thus retains a particular status.

      (Having said that, I am still a fan. So there. :-))

  4. Iamnid says:

    They can take that box and shove it… Myst is awful.

    • Megatron says:

      Myst was and still is brilliant. The ingratitude and snark thrown at this series over the years is borderline criminal. Fair enough if you don’t like it but at least have the decency to explain why, so it can be discussed?

      • Minsc_N_Boo says:

        I used to love adventure games (mainly Lucas Arts), but I never got on with Myst.

        I didn’t like the interface – while the images are beautiful, it just seemed like I was interacting with a slide show.

        For me, the thing that turned me off the most was the puzzles themselves. It seemed like you had to randomly click, pull, twist random things, and then work out why afterwards.

        I remember back in the day PC Gamer had a very vocal hatred of the series – turns out they still do!

        link to pcgamer.com

        • malkav11 says:

          Myst was literally a slideshow, programmed in Hypercard, with embedded Quicktime videos.

          • Megatron says:

            And the works of shakespeare were literally quill-scribbles of ink on wood-pulped parchment. It’s not the tools; it’s how you use them.

            Rand and Miller turned an interactive slideshow program into a work of art. I believe that to be literally the case.

          • malkav11 says:

            I wasn’t making a comment about Myst’s artistic merits. I’m just saying, if you feel like you’re playing a slide show it’s because that’s literally what you are doing.

        • Megatron says:

          PC Gamer are pretty much to blame for RPS’ own “running joke” about the series, most of the founders hailing from those esteemed pages.

          But they’re all still wrong.

          I actually found most of the puzzles in Myst to be very logical. The only real bad one was that horrible tunnel maze (which got taken out of later versions of the game), and perhaps that one where you had to find the correct button out of 36 of them arranged in a circle. But once you’d experimented with what you could see and hear in a given location, the solution was usually staring you right in the face.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I remember when it first came out. Myst looked incredible for the era, in its own sort of way.

    Yeah, it hasn’t aged well, but what from that era has?

    That said, the puzzles were always kinda awful. Lots of focus on weird audio cues and really the entire game is just a runaround doing nothing to get told what you’ve been doing is just heading for a game over.

    • Premium User Badge

      Risingson says:

      Are you saying no game from 1992 has aged well? We are getting to really hardcore positions now.

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        I suppose that might be overstating things a hair.

        But generally graphics look worse than you remember, the UI from that era is nearly always a trainwreck, and huge piles of those games won’t even run on modern machines.

        But yeah, if you get them playing and you don’t mind the other problems, then they can still be fun. But the aging is still usually pretty obvious.

        • Premium User Badge

          Risingson says:

          Well, depends on the game, duh :)

          This reminds me of my previous flatmate. “I never watch any movie in black and white. All the movies in black and white are old and hence they are boring”.

          Actually, one of the marvels of critical analysis is that, with time, you know which of these games can still be played and which ones turn out to be a bit hard. Some have terrible UI as sooooo many crpgs, but for example the Lucasarts UI is still flawless. Just to name one.

          • malkav11 says:

            I mean, there are modern movies made in black and white for stylistic reasons, so a blanket prohibition on black and white movies is…unwise, but I’ve definitely found that movies before about 1970 are generally not my cup of tea (and even 70s movies are pretty hit or miss). There are exceptions, but…the conventions and techniques of earlier film-making are often not very compatible with modern tastes.

    • Werthead says:

      I dunno. Monkey Island 2 and the original Dune came out in 1992 and both aged fine, even discounting the remastered edition for MI2.

      So did Dune 2 (at the other end of the year) but the no-box-selecting and having to click on each command and then the map means it really hasn’t aged that well.

      Go into 1993 though and you have Cannon Fodder, Syndicate and Flashback, which have all aged very nicely indeed. Well, when you can get them to work.

  6. Don Reba says:

    It was very cool to hear Adam Conover in the pitch video. 👍

  7. EkoAzarak says:

    Ooooo… nice. i will pick this up no doubt. I completed Myst 1-5 but never did try the URU games. Been in a Myst mood lately too after completing Obduction which was quite good.

    • Megatron says:

      I really enjoyed my time in URU. It’s really well worth the playthrough.

    • Jernau Gurgeh says:

      I like Uru, more than most of the other Myst games. Be warned that it has fully real-time 3D gameplay with a runny-jumpy third person viewpoint and a somewhat clunky control scheme (involving having to keep your finger down on a mouse button to move forward), though I seem to recall it did have the option to switch to first person.

      Damn… I find myself itching to download and play it again, something that I can ill-afford to do what with my 150 game backlog and huge list of tedious RL chores that I continue to procrastinate over.

  8. malkav11 says:

    Just to note – even if you didn’t like Myst or Riven, Myst III: Exile is done by Presto Studios (better known for the Journeyman Project adventure games, which are great) rather than Cyan, stars the ever-excellent Brad Dourif as the villain, and is generally a much more accessible and still gorgeous (for its era, at least) time. IMO it’s probably the best of the series although I also have a certain grudging fondness for Uru.

    • Devan says:

      And don’t forget that Exile’s soundtrack is absolutely fantastic. It’s one of a handful of game soundtracks that I like to just sit and listen to while working (others being Nolf 2, Halo 1, Megabyte Punch, and various Zelda soundtracks).

  9. Jernau Gurgeh says:

    Yeah, the puzzles can be annoying and obscure, but I still have a fondness for these games, especially Uru and Myst V which I still replay now and then. I hope they make digital versions of Myst III and IV available separately on GOG. They are the only ones I don’t have there and that you can’t currently buy, and Myst IV was the only one I never completed back in the day when I had the disk version.

    Recently played Obscufacation (or whatever it was called) which was a good scratching of the Myst itch. Mytch?

    • Megatron says:

      So Obduction was quite Mysty, then? Good to know. I’ve had my eye on it for a while.

      • Jernau Gurgeh says:

        Oh yes, very Mystyfyd, except for the most part the puzzles are generally more logical, though you will probably still find yourself taking a snickypicky at online guides to find out what the hell you need to do next. Be prepared for equally hammy FMV bits too.

      • PampleMoose says:

        Obduction is about as close to being dumped into the Myst universe on that dock again as I’ve felt. The game itself is patchy in places, but to have that feeling once more of learning about a mysterious world and its history, and learning how that world ‘works’, is amazing, and I’ve only truly gotten that feeling from Myst, Riven, and Obduction. Can’t recommend it enough to anyone who genuinely enjoyed the Myst series.

        If anything, Obduction for the most part actually hangs together a bit better in terms of the lore and how everything works (purely in terms of what you experience in game, I love the Myst lore but it had the benefit of several games and novels worth of fleshing-out).

        • Premium User Badge

          Risingson says:

          There were loads of myst like games in the early noughties but they went out of fashion as – thanks God in my opinion – humour returned to adventure games. In particular I remember having fun with Rhem and I remember facepalming a lot with the many flaws of Schizm 2. Some of them are still in Steam, as Aura (oh, my opinion: a bit so-so).

  10. hijuisuis says:

    So Myst 3 and 4 will be available on gog then? I recently finished the first 2 and was really bummed I couldn’t continue.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      That seems to be the case, yes. Kickstarter people will probably get first dibs on it, but they’ll be available to buy on regular storefronts before too long.

  11. Taintslapper says:

    As a kid who survived on a strict diet of Doom 2 and Hexen, I remember the first time I encountered Myst at a friend’s house. He showed it to me and I was stoked, which was immediately followed by dissapointment at the lack of monsters to kill. Not to say it isn’t a great game or anything, it was just a complete shock to the 8 year old version of me way back when.

    • Jernau Gurgeh says:

      I could imagine the ‘barely interactive slideshow’ gameplay probably also dampened any enthusiasm you may have had.

  12. montfalcon says:

    For anyone who has a hankering for the ambient sounds of 1992, the complete soundtracks to Myst 1-4 are available on Spotify.
    Just search for Myst and Robyn Miller (Myst & Riven) or Jack Wall (3 & 4).
    I find them great for meditative candlelit baths, no joke.

  13. Arglebargle says:

    Enjoyed walking around Myst (on a friend’s hot computer), but had no interest in the ‘game’ at all. It was an early walking simulator for me.

  14. DeepFried says:

    Dear lord, 7 myst games in one go. Good way to kill off someone you don’t like.

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