Not obvious even looking back, and one of my influences. Check out the excellent Lost to the Ages write-up on Grantland. With thanks, a rock&roll metaphor, and a terribly sad story.
Sad story · So I played Myst and was an early Riven adopter; played it right through and solved all those pathologically-enraging puzzles with (almost) no recourse to hint sites, and just as I finally broke through and freed Catherine, the fucking CD delaminated right there in the drive and the game melted down on-screen before my horrified eyes. So I never even saw whatever triumphal-victory sequence Riven offers. I’m still mad; but it’s a pretty minor grievance against life.
Cream vs Black Sabbath · That Grantland piece points out that the Myst games notably lack obvious successors on today’s scene. Which is true but not necessarily important.
It brings to mind a good essay someone wrote on Rock History pointing out while everyone thinks Cream Were Important, go to any big city and you’ll find a dozen bar bands that sound just like Sabbath but nobody anywhere sounds like Cream.
Which is to say, Myst is like Cream; sui generis so far, and that’s perfectly OK.
Myst & Riven & me · I played both on whatever ridiculous-in-the-rear-view PC I was running then. Obsessively; few games in my history have noticeably crowded out real life like these.
They stand up well, I think. What the reviews leave out is the raw beauty of the landscapes: rooms, rock outcroppings, paths through trees. Riven more than Myst for me, and if you look around the real-world rooms that I’ve helped decorate and see things that make you think of those worlds, that’s OK by me.
The last few years we’ve been spending summer weekends at our Pacific-waterfront cabin, which has a floating dock. Sometimes when the sun is up and nobody’s around I go down there and sit on the wood; no sound but the lapping of the waves and the creaking of the ropes that hold the boat. And if I’m reminded unsubtly of a twenty-year-old videogame, I’m unashamed.