How 1993 puzzle-adventure 'Myst' became Apple's 2021 Game of the Year

How a 1993 puzzle adventure became Apple’s 2021 Game of the Year

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Myst on Mac
It's easy to see why Myst is Apple's Mac Game of the Year.
Photo: Apple

Myst, the puzzle-adventure game from Cyan, has been named the 2021 Mac Game of the Year by Apple. But this popular classic actually made its debut way back in 1993.

Myst has gone through an incredible transformation since then. What was once a meager 3MB install is now a whopping 11.5GB download that’s packed with puzzles, glorious graphics and immersive sound. Here’s why the game picked up an Apple award — and why you might want to play it.

Myst was a surprise hit that’s now even better

Myst was originally designed by Rand and Robyn Miller, brothers from the United States, who got started in game development by building interactive storybooks for children. In the early ’90s, when both were broke and living off rice and beans, the Millers decided it was time to make a game for adults.

They began by pitching a title to Activision, the publisher now famous for massive hits like Call of Duty and Guitar Hero. But according to Robyn, their ideas didn’t go down well and they were told to stick to making kids’ games. Fortunately for us, the Millers didn’t take that advice.

They instead put together a small team of designers, artists, and developers and began work on Myst, which would become by far their biggest project up to that point. The idea was to create a thrilling adventure game with believable characters and a storyline that would be influenced by the player’s choices.

Myst on Mac
This Macintosh classic looks spectacular in 2021.
Photo: Cyan

By 1993, just two years after the project began, Myst was ready to roll out on the Macintosh. It had been built using HyperCard, an Apple program created by Bill Atkinson — who was also responsible for MacPaint and a bunch of other original Mac innovations — that was one of the first successful “hypermedia” platforms before the web was a thing. And Myst quickly became a surprise hit.

Myst sells millions

Thanks in part to an incredibly positive reception from critics, who praised the game’s storyline, graphics, and sound, Myst became the best-selling PC game throughout the 1990s. In the U.S., it was the top-selling title for a staggering 52 months between March 1993 and April 1999.

By 2000, Myst had already shifted more than 6.3 million copies, and had made the leap to consoles like the Panasonic 3DO, Atari Jaguar, and later the Sony PlayStation. It wasn’t until The Sims exceeded its sales in 2002 that Myst finally lost its crown as the biggest PC title.

Myst on Mac
A jaw-dropping island to explore.
Photo: Cyan

As of today, the Miller brothers’ first game for adults has appeared on almost every platform — including modern consoles like the Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch. And you can enjoy the latest version of it, complete with all the improvements to its visuals and sound, on Mac.

In fact, the macOS version is one of the best, and you should try it out if you haven’t already.

Why you should play Myst

Myst “completely reimagines one of the most mysterious lands in gaming history,” reads Apple’s writeup about why it was picked as Mac Game of the Year for 2021. The game takes players to a mysterious island oozing with intriguing environments, amazing architecture, and strange contraptions.

It’s up to you to find out where you are — and who you are — by exploring your surroundings and interacting with more than 2,500 objects. You’ll figure out how to crack safes, guide rockets, rotate lighthouses, and lots more.

Even if you’ve played Myst before, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy it again on Mac. The game now runs on a new real-time 3D engine that makes its world more detailed and immersive than ever before. And it’s optimized for Apple silicon, so it runs incredibly smoothly, too — even in 4K.

Myst on Mac is priced at $29.99 and you can download it from the Mac App Store now.