Myst (series)

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    I realized the moment I fell into the fissure that the book would not be destroyed as I had planned. It continued falling into that starry expanse, of which I had only a fleeting glimpse. I have tried to speculate where it might have landed, but I must admit such conjecture is futile. Still, questions about whose hands might one day hold my Myst book are unsettling to me. I know my apprehensions might never be allayed, and so I close, realizing that perhaps the ending has not yet been written.


    Most games have a premise, dictating an objective which the player achieves through gameplay. Some games, however, have discovering the premise and the objective as part of the gameplay.

    Myst was a puzzle-heavy first-person Adventure Game which sparked off a new sub-genre. Developed by the brothers Rand and Robyn Miller in 1993, the game became an unexpected hit, mainly due to its eerie, haunting atmosphere and, for the time, excellent graphics. It was swiftly followed by a host of imitators, most of which are decidedly inferior to the original.

    Myst is famous for its mind-bending logic puzzles and lack of character interaction: most of the games feature only a handful of NPCs and very little dialogue. Unsurprisingly, adventure fans are heavily divided over the merits of the game, with most players falling firmly into the 'love' or 'hate' camps. It has even been accused of helping to hasten the 'death' of adventure games, even though many gamers were introduced to the genre by Myst and its sequels.

    The late Douglas Adams, upon playing Myst, cheerfully declared the game to be a 'Beautiful Void' due to the lack of other characters or life of any kind (he also created Starship Titanic, which was a game with a very similar premise IN SPACE, with snarky robots).

    It is also worth noting that characterisation of 'The Player' (Sometimes called 'The Stranger') is achieved after an interesting fashion in that the few NPC's that play a primary role, Atrus and his family, treat the main character with familiarity that develops as the series progresses. This leads to the player's becoming something akin to their family friend, and subtly integrating the player themself as a character into the world of the game by avoiding dictating the nature of the protagonist.

    The Myst games deal with the D'ni civilization, a race of people (not humans) that lived in a cavern under the Earth until their civilization fell a few centuries ago. The D'ni had the ability to write about locations they imagined in special books that could then physically transport a person to the places they described. Atrus, the main non-player character in the games, is one of the last survivors of the D'ni (though he's three-quarters human).

    See also "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius".

    The Myst series has six games:

    • Myst: The player is transported to a strange, deserted island by reading a magical book. Once there, he/she discovers two brothers trapped inside similar books, each of whom blames the other for the murder of their father Atrus and the destruction of his library. With the help of various notes, journals and recorded messages left by Atrus and his sons, the player must piece together what happened and decide who to free. According to Word of God, Myst is set in the early 19th century.
      • Myst has also been remade several times: Myst: Masterpiece Edition is a Remaster of the original with unchanged gameplay, versions have been released for the Nintendo DS, PSP, and iPhone, and realMyst allows players to wander through a fully realized 3D version of the game.
    • Riven: The Sequel to Myst: Atrus, after being freed by the player in the previous game, sends the player to Riven (an Age reached by linking book), where Atrus's father Gehn is holding Atrus's wife Catherine captive. The player must free Catherine, trap Gehn, and find a way to signal Atrus. In the end, the player is returned home (which is presumably on Earth). Considered by many Myst fans to be the best game in the franchise, and also the most difficult.
    • Myst III: Exile: Several years after the events of Riven, the player visits Atrus in the latter's new home Tomahna (which is in the desert of New Mexico). While there, a man called Saavedro steals a book linking to the Age of Releeshahn (which Atrus was writing as a new home for the D'ni survivors) to get revenge for the evil acts perpetrated against Saavedro by Atrus's sons Sirrus and Achenar. The player must follow Saavedro and get the book back, while finding out about what drives Saavedro.
    • Myst IV: Revelation: Around ten years after Myst III: Exile, Sirrus and Achenar return to kidnap Atrus's daughter Yeesha (around 10 years old in this game). The player visits the prison Ages in which Sirrus and Achenar were trapped, as well as a third Age called Serenia, to discover their plans and to try to free Yeesha.
    • Uru: Ages Beyond Myst: Set in the present day (2003, the game's release date), Uru is a spin-off of the Myst series. In the 1980's, a group of people discovered the D'ni cavern, and formed the D'ni Restoration Council. The player (who is obviously not the same character as the previous games, since it's 200 years later) is drawn to go to the desert and follows a journey set out by Yeesha that leads the player to find out much about the history and downfall of the D'ni, and about creatures called the Bahro that were enslaved by the D'ni. Uru also includes a massively multiplayer online component, which has been launched, canceled, relaunched, canceled again, and relaunched again throughout its history. After Uru Live was canceled (for the first time), two expansion packs were released with the planned future content for Uru Live. The first, To D'ni, allows the player to explore the D'ni cavern and deals with the fate of the DRC. The second, Path of the Shell, is about a prophecy concerning someone called the Grower (who would bring D'ni back to life) and a D'ni guild master named Kadish who claimed to be the Grower. It currently exists, for free but with no promises of future content updates, in the form of Myst Online: Uru Live.
    • Myst V: End of Ages: The final Myst game is also set in the present day and is more a sequel to Uru than Myst. The game doesn't state who the player is, but according to Word of God, it's Dr. Watson from the DRC (from Uru). The player is set a quest to release a Tablet, that controls/enslaves the Bahro. Both Yeesha and a D'ni survivor called Esher have attempted this quest, but failed, and both will aid the player in their own way.

    There are also several tie-in novels, authored by the Miller brothers themselves. Myst: The Book of Atrus tells the story of Atrus's early life with his grandmother Anna and his father Gehn. Myst: The Book of Ti'ana tells the story of the downfall of the D'ni (so this takes place before the Book of Atrus). And finally, Myst: The Book of D'ni tells of Atrus's attempts to find D'ni survivors and rebuild the D'ni civilization.

    Recently, an independently produced (but still approved by the Miller brothers) Film of the Book (the Book of Ti'ana to be precise) has been announced. The scriptwriters keep a daily-updated blog about their progress, with some rather odd digressions about their personal lives in connection with the project. A remake of the original game was released in August 2021 for on PC, Mac, Oculus, and Xbox Game Pass. You can watch the trailer here.

    Tropes used in Myst (series) include:

    Tropes appearing across the series:

    • Achievements in Ignorance: Yeesha can do a lot of things when writing Ages that were previously thought impossible (even above and beyond what her mother does-see below). It turns out that a lot of things that were previously thought to be hard-and-fast natural laws surrounding the process of writing linking books were just ancient traditions which had been around so long they assumed they must be laws. By being raised and taught in an environment where those weren't drummed into her head, Yeesha is able to accomplish things that everything her forefathers knew told them should cause her worlds to self-destruct.
    • Adaptation Expansion: In realMyst, a new Age is added to the original game, and several areas of the island and previous Ages can be visited that weren't formerly accessible.
    • Affably Evil: The Terahnee in general.
    • After the End: For the D'ni.
    • All There in the Manual: Unless you had read The Book of D'ni, you might be surprised at how there is suddenly a new D'ni civilization.
      • The Book of Atrus ends with a scene that recaps the page quote, explaining the context of the first game's voice-over and accompanying visuals.
    • Alternative Number System: The D'ni have a base 25 system, in keeping with the games' general tendency to use powers of five as Arc Numbers.
    • Anachronism Stew: The games take place in the early 1800s. The D'ni have technology which can transport them to other worlds and record messages with holographic video (they even had this in the 1700s, as Gehn's old technology demonstrates). Yet they still use candles for light and rely on books.
    • And I Must Scream: The protagonist suffers this fate in two of the "bad" endings to the first game (i.e. if you bring the last page to either brother).
      • Gehn suffers the same fate in Riven if you do things right.
      • Sirrus and Achenar were imprisoned in Spire and Haven respectively, completely alone, for over 20 years.
        • Which is fair enough, as they'd done exactly the same thing to Saavedro For the Evulz.
    • And Man Grew Proud: The D'ni as a whole seemed to have a problem with this. The process of Age Writing does not actually create worlds (see the Rewriting Reality entry below), but many of its practitioners seemed to forget this after a while. It seems you can't swing a stick in D'ni history without hitting a King or other important figure who became drunk on his own skill and committed horrid atrocities to the inhabitants of one or more Ages. Gehn is a great example, thinking himself a god, and Sirrus and Achenar both seem to have fallen into this trap as well. Even Yeesha admits there was a time she felt the same.

    Yeesha: It was the same with the D'ni. The same cycle. Light opens the darkness. It takes, it uses, and it keeps. The D'ni found power in these books. These books you use to travel. They were a gift from the Maker. These Ages that you travel, too, were their Ages. Remarkable places giving life and taking life. This shadow came over them, this shadow of light. For it was in their enlightenment that they considered themselves better, better than the least. And we were sad for them.

    • Arc Number: 5 in Riven.
      • And in the backstory as well because 5 is an important number to the D'ni culture. Because Gehn was a D'ni with delusions of grandeur (and sadistic tendencies), he brought the 5 motif to Riven with him.
        • It turns out 25 is actually the number holding the most cultural significance to the D'ni, as their number system is in Base 25 as opposed to our Base 10. Additionally, 25^2 is 625, the number connected to the Grower. The reason Gehn used the number 5 so powerfully around the islands of Riven is because Gehn misremembered this culturally significant number as 5 and not 25 (he was fairly young when the D'ni civilization collapsed), so he wrote everything in the link to Riven around the number 5.
        • Five still plays a major developmental part, in numbers and linguistics. Each number from 0 to 24 involves five symbols (0 is blank). To get numbers after 4, one rotates the first symbol 90 degrees ('1' rotated is '5', '2' rotated is '10', et cetera), then adds it to the unrotated symbol from 0 to 4 to get the full digit. After that, the '25s' place is one to the left. The phonemes work practically the same way...
      • Gehn is, as far as most Myst fans are aware, the only (half) D'ni who has ever named his ages after numbers; all the ages the player discovers in Uru and Myst V: End of Ages have D'ni names (and that's not even counting Atrus' ages, which are also all named and not numbered). Gehn named his ages after numbers because those marked the order in which those ages were written: Riven is the fifth age, therefore Gehn refers to it as Age Five, Age 233 is appropriately his 233rd age, and so on.
      • The Ages that the player visits are littered with astronomical tools and mechanisms that depend on specific dates or numerical correspondences. Of course, this is usually because most of the ages visited in the series are written by Atrus, who simply has to know everything about every new age he writes a link to. The D'ni also had very advanced technology, and certain ages like Toldelmer were built specifically for scientific research (Astronomy, in this case). Additionally, Uru revealed that the center of D'ni technology as a whole appears to be connected to a large device known as "The Great Zero". Said device serves as a GPS in the D'ni cavern, and itself is located at coordinates (0,0,0). Overall, however, the D'ni actually seem to have been much more connected to writing than to the sciences, though science and mathematics were certainly a large part of their society.
    • Arc Words: "The ending has not yet been written."
    • Artifact Title: Aside from one of Myst V's bad endings, Myst Island itself becomes distinctly less relevant to the series as it continues.
    • Beautiful Void: Trope Namer.
    • Beneath the Earth: The D'ni, in rare comfort, too (but not without class issues).
    • Beyond the Impossible: To demonstrate the Bahro's mastery of time, the night version of Minkata features a visibly spinning Galaxy! To put it into perspective, our own Milky Way takes 250 million years to rotate once!
      • Most of what Yeesha does, having learnt from the aforementioned Bahro.
      • Her mother Catherine was also good at this. In the novels, she's mentioned as having written "Torus", an stable doughnut-shaped Age, which features a huge waterfall that falls through the planet's core, turns into rain and gets carried back by clouds to refill the Ocean, that in turn, feeds the Waterfall. Atrus' reaction to first seeing this was that until then, he had thought it impossible to do such things with the Art.
    • Big Screwed-Up Family: Atrus father and two sons are genocidal maniacs and his daughter Yeesha has a bit of a messiah complex.
    • Bittersweet Ending: All the games to some extent, but especially Riven and Myst IV: Revelation.
      • If the player chooses to leave Saavedro stranded after retrieving the Releeshahn book from him, Myst III: Exile can also fall under this.
        • Even if you get the best possible ending instead, Saavedro has still lost twenty years of his life, including his daughters' entire childhoods. Makes the homecoming pretty darn bittersweet right there...
        • To say nothing of the fact that he's become a psychopath, easily capable of snapping and killing someone with little provocation. What kind of rehabilitation does he have ahead of him?
    • Bound and Gagged:
      • Yeesha in Myst IV: Revelation.
      • Atrus has his hands bound behind his back in Book of Atrus.
    • Call Back: Three of the Ages in the original Myst have separate rooms that Sirrus and Achenar have inhabited at some point, where their pages are. Not so in the Selenitic Age. Sirrus' page is in the middle of crystalline spires, while Achenar's is in the little spot of vegetation left: a haven. Then comes Myst IV. Three guesses what their prison ages are named, and why.
    • Canon Discontinuity: The comic book, Myst: The Book of Black Ships. Cyan's main gripe was that Dark Horse mixed up Sirrus's and Achenar's names. When the publisher refused to correct this in the remaining issues, Cyan had the series cancelled.
    • Cast as a Mask: Inverted and has some gender bending thrown in with Sirrus in Myst IV: Revelation.
    • Chess Motifs: Yes Sirrus, Atrus made a Légal move.
    • Closed Circle: Linking books are not two way travel portals, so wherever the Stranger is tossed, (s)he does not have a way back.
    • Crap Saccharine World: Terahnee.
    • Crapsack World: Teledahn qualifies as it was used as a secret base for slave trafficking, as does Noloben, where Esher performed gruesome experiments on the Bahro.
    • Creepy Child: Later part of Myst IV: Sirrus possesses Yeesha's body. He does a good job at impersonating her, but his language slips through. Comes to a head in the bad endings, in which she smiles sweetly as she shoots you with a crossbow.
    • Damsel in Distress: Catherine and (later) Yeesha. It must run in the family.
      • Arguably Atrus even more so, although a male example, since he needs you to solve his problems for him in every numbered Myst series title.
    • Defector From Decadence: The entire D'ni civilization was founded with this intention.
    • Doom Magnet: Atrus.
    • Dramatic Landfall Shot: The opening shot of the first game.
      • Also Mechanical, Stoneship, J'nanin, Edanna, Haven, Teledahn... A good number of the Ages are islands, so they get to use this a lot.
    • Drunk on the Dark Side
    • Dr. Jerk: Jarl.
    • Endless Daytime:
      • In Uru, Teledahn's sun moves horizontally across the sky, never dipping beneath the horizon as it circles.
    • Everything's Better with Spinning: In Uru, the rotating fortresses of Gahreesen are designed to Portal Cut any invader.
    • Face Heel Turn: Veovis.
    • Featureless Protagonist: All games, except for Uru.
    • Gadgeteer Geniuses: The D'ni. Aside from the Art, they're also notable for their remarkable engineering skills.
    • God Is Inept: Poorly written linking books result in this.
    • Good Is Not Soft: This trope could have been named for Atrus.
    • Guide Dang It: A huge chunk of any game in this series becomes this relatively quickly. Made a bit more tolerable by the narrative tone that the official guides take, serving as the voice of the protagonist as he writes a journal of the occurrences.
      • The animal puzzle in Riven. Even if you've figured out the two or three layers of puzzle that spans the entire game map to know which animals you're looking for (one of which Gehn broke and you have to figure out via other means), the primitive cave pictograms on the stones where you ultimately enter them in don't depict them all that well.
      • The puzzles in Uru: Path of the Shell revolve around waiting for long periods of time, 14 minutes for almost all of them to be precise. The only hint to this is Bible-style references written on the walls, referenced in books in Relto which force you to count each individual line, which require you to know D'ni math to figure out what 625 units of their time is in normal minutes.
    • Heel Face Turn: Veovis, ro'Eh ro'Dan, Achenar. Perhaps Shomat, as well.
    • Heel Faith Turn: If Shomat did, in fact, do a Heel Face Turn, this is how.
    • Hot Mom: Catherine.
    • Human Aliens: Well, the D'ni aren't space aliens, but they don't originate from this universe. Several of the D'ni-written worlds include effectively human--or rather, D'ni-- inhabitants, though the D'ni largely didn't consider them equals to themselves (and yes, Earth is an Age, with its own descriptive book and everything).
      • If the civilizations on Riven (though its people now reside on Tay), Narayan and Serenia have taught us anything, it's that most civilizations in this series are Human Aliens.
    • I Did What I Had to Do: There are a few. Gehn in Riven, Esher in Myst V, Sirrus in Myst IV.
    • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Especially in Uru to block off unfinished areas, but examples of places that seem like they should be accessible but are not abound throughout the entire series. A notable exception is in Riven, where you can simply crawl under a locked gate.
    • Irony: D'ni, the age where Atrus was trapped in the first game, is actually Earth, the very place the player is trying to return to.
    • It's a Wonderful Failure:
      • Myst: go to D'ni without the white page (a type of Unwinnable situation), or bring all of the pages to either brother so you get trapped in the book yourself.
      • Riven: forget to rescue Catherine (cue Downer Ending), open the fissure before trapping Gehn (Gehn escapes and kills you and Atrus), trap yourself in the prison book (if you do it in the Rebel Age, they burn the book), etc.
      • Myst III: Exile: return to Tomahna without the book to Releeshahn. Or, return to Tomahna, bringing Saavedro with you... The endgame of Myst III: Exile is a very detailed, involved puzzle that comes with myriad ways to screw up; each one nets you a message related to how your mistake translates to "You lose, dumbass". All but two involve getting your sorry ass killed.
    • It's Up to You: Five times so far in the original series alone. This really begins to stretch credibility in later games. In Myst IV, Atrus can't participate because he's conveniently stranded in some kind of electrical storm. You only find this out if you repair his imager, which is not necessary for beating the game.
    • Killed Off for Real: Sirrus and Achenar.
    • La Résistance: The Moiety in Riven.
    • Large Ham: Sirrus and Achenar both, as portrayed by the Miller brothers. Also Sirrus in Myst IV: Revelation.
    • Last of His Kind: Atrus and his children appear to be the last of the D'ni race. This turns out not to be the case.
      • Saavedro thinks himself to be the last of the Narayani race due to a rather nasty civil war that occurred on his home Age. This is also not the case.
    • Late to the Party: Every single game in the entire series runs on this trope.
    • Literary Agent Hypothesis: Used to explain not only the existence of the Uru series, but to account for all the Ret Cons in the Myst games.
      • One might even say that Uru is all one big Retcon.
    • Lock and Key Puzzle: Most major puzzles, and a few minor ones, essentially boil down to an elaborate combination lock. The puzzle has so many possible states that guessing is simply out of the question. The only way to solve it is to wander around solving minor puzzles that will eventually reveal what the right combination is.
      • The fireplace plate in Myst has 2^48 (over 280 trillion) possible combinations. Even if you find, by happenstance, the book with the patterns in it, there are still hundreds of patterns to search through.
      • Riven
        • The fire marble press requires you to place up six colored marbles into a 25x25 grid. The number of combinations sits in the range of quadrillions. Technically, any entry with a specific marble and any other marble in their correct positions will grant access to the final stretch of the game, but that hardly makes a brute-force approach any more practical.
        • There are 3125 possible codes to unlock the hatch beneath the fissure periscope. The combination is randomized when you begin a new game.
        • There are 53,130 possible codes to unlock the book domes. This combination is also randomized.
        • There are 243 possible codes to unlock Catherine's prison. This combination is also randomized.
      • Myst III: Exile
        • There are 65,536 possible codes to bring the Lesson Age books down.
      • Myst IV: Revelation
        • There are 46,656 possible codes to unlock the door beneath the old Memory Chamber. This code is randomized.
    • Magic A Is Magic A: See the Rewriting Reality discussion below. Holds true for everyone except Yeesha.
    • Meaningful Name: Gahreesan (Garrison); in the books, Tehrahnee (Tyranny).
    • Messianic Archetype: Yeesha. Subverted. She fails to fulfill the role due to her own pride.
    • Methuselah Syndrome: The Ronay can live more than three centuries; King Lanaren lived to be 396.
    • Mobile Maze: From The Book of D'ni.
    • Multiple Endings: All of the games give you a choice. Choose wisely.
      • Some of the times you do have a choice aren't entirely obvious either. The ending in Myst III: Exile requires you to undo one of the puzzles you just solved in order to achieve your basic victory condition. To get the best ending, you then have to undo a different puzzle before resetting the first, and forgetting something at any point gets you an immediate failure.
        • Furthermore, forgetting one lousy thing in Myst III: Exile but remembering everything else locks you into the best ending: that would be picking up the Tomahna book in the Narayan outpost instead of opening it like every single other linking book in the game. You have no choice but to let Saavedro go after that, if you want to get to the book without him killing you.
    • The Multiverse: Every Age, no matter how marginal the difference, is in fact a complete different universe. The D'ni represent it as a massive tree, with every Age a leaf.
    • Mundane Utility: The D'ni have some incredibly advanced technology, the cornerstone of which is their ability to connect to other universes, specifying any type of universe they want with any contents they want, and travel to them at will. They use this ability as a municipal mass transit system, among other things.
    • Nostalgia Level: Atrus' study in Myst IV: Revelation, the Myst library, and K'veer in Path of the Shell. The Cleft might count, although it had only ever appeared in novels before. Also, the ruins of the original Myst in the bad ending of Myst V. It's worth getting the bad ending just to see it.
    • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Saavedro.
    • Novelization
    • Offing the Offspring: In Backstory and story-story, including villainous and Shoot the Dog versions.
    • Omnicidal Maniac: Veovis and A'Gaeris.
    • Portal Picture: What a portal in a Linking book looks like.
    • Pulverized Pedestal: Atrus admired Gehn at first.
    • Punny Name: Say "Terahnee" out loud a couple times...
      • Many D'ni words are merely English words with a strong accent. Gahreesen, for instance, is a garrison.
    • Reality Warper: The Bahro, and to an extent Yeesha.
    • Redemption Equals Death: Veovis, Achenar, ro'Eh ro'Dan.
      • Myst IV: Revelation almost beats you over the head with this trope. The effectiveness of the message is tempered by how well you remember the events of]] Myst and Myst III: Exile.
      • Averted in Myst III: Exile, however, in which not only does the player reconcile with Saavedro and allow him a happy ending, but in a bad ending where you drive Saavedro to suicide Atrus yells at you about it. Of course, Saavedro's most serious crimes were arson (no one was hurt), theft, and plotting bad things-- and he did so for understandable reasons-- so the game killing him to redeem him would have seemed pretty disproportional.
    • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sirrus (Blue Oni) and Achenar (Red Oni), though the Books they're trapped in have the opposite colors.
      • Interestingly, the worlds within the books have the opposite colors from their covers.
    • Renaissance Man: Atrus.
    • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Bahro fear the snakes of Noloben.
    • Retcon: Several, but the transformation of 'Trap Books' into 'Prison Ages' is probably the most obvious.
      • Don't forget the placement of the Cleft. The novels heavily imply the Cleft to be located in the Middle East, while Uru moves it to New Mexico.
      • According to Word of God (Richard A. Watson, the end-all authority on all things D'ni), the cleft was always in New Mexico, the novels got it wrong. He also states that trap books as shown in Myst and Riven don't exist; the brothers were always trapped in prison Ages (as shown in Myst IV), and that the trap books were simply a simplification made by Cyan for gameplay purposes. It should be noted that he wrote about this as early as 1998, so it wasn't something that was changed for Myst IV.
    • Rewriting Reality: The explanation for how the Art (of linking to other universes) works. With the proper ink, paper and language, of course. What do you think this is, magic or something?
      • Well, technically, it's not rewriting reality, and a whole section of a couple of the stories is dedicated to making this clear, thanks to a few characters who started to think they were gods. As stated above, it's linking: writing a linking book simply creates a door to a world that already exists somewhere, if the theory of infinite possibilities is to be believed. It also points out that writers have to be ruddy careful, as the link is established to a moment when the world is exactly as it is described in the linking book. It doesn't matter if the linked world destabilizes into a hellish inferno after that moment... the book will still link there. Thus the existence of a guild dedicated to approving books as safe to use.
        • However, there have been times, like with the Age of Stoneship, where Atrus uses the Art to change the contents of a world. Word of God states it's sort of a quantum-uncertainty thing; you can't change things, but you can specify things which could have been there all along but just haven't been noticed. For example, the dagger-from-the-sky from Riven: You can't write that a dagger falls from the sky. You can write that there was a dagger in orbit all along that's just about to fall, however. Even before you wrote it, there was a potential that the dagger was there, it just collapsed into a certainty when you put it to paper. If you write in a change that's incompatible with the existing world, then the link changes to a new world which matches all the facts... breaking the link to the original world permanently. Yes, this has resulted in at least one Shoot the Dog.
    • Scenery Porn: Sufficient, said many critics at the time, to solely justify the first game's record-smashing sales. You can probably buy the first three sequels with that excuse too.
      • The Garden Ages, the Kadish Gallery and Ahnonay in Uru.
      • Taken to the extent that your reward for completing a stage of particular games - individual islands in Riven, complete Ages in Myst III: Exile and Myst IV: Revelation - is a ride around the area you just finished in what might easily be called Scenery Porn Fan Service (Amateria in particular makes no pretensions of being anything other than Ending Ride).
    • Schizo-Tech: See Anachronism Stew above.
    • Schmuck Bait: The Trap Books. Not counting the Linking Book you touched to start the whole adventure, of course...
      • Riven presents some interesting twists on the trope. There are at least two major pieces of Schmuck Bait in the game, and by the time you've found them, you should have figured out why they're dangerous. And yet, in order to win the game, you must use them anyway.
    • Smug Snake: Sirrus.
    • Solve the Soup Cans: The justification comes in the form of paranoid characters throwing deliberately contrived obstacles in each other's paths.
    • Songs in the Key of Lock: Fits right in with the above.
    • Space Amish: The D'ni, at least compared with the Terahnee.
    • Steampunk: Big machines rife with pipes, gears, and valves often serve as primary puzzle elements in ages, especially Riven. Atrus especially seemed able to crank out huge volumes of wacky machinery using nineteenth-century parts and a little Sufficiently Advanced Technology.
      • The upper part of the central tower in J'nanin appears to be fixed in place with bed-sized screws.
    • Themed Cursor: Your hand.
    • Town with a Dark Secret: Terahnee is a country with a dark secret. Atrus and company find this out almost too late.
    • Tree-Top Town:
      • Myst: The upper levels of the Channelwood Age.
      • Riven: The village in the Moiety Age, situated in the middle of a giant tree.
      • Myst III: Exile: The Age of Narayan.
    • Unobtainium: Nara, deretheni, firemarbles, powermarbles, etc.
    • Video Game Caring Potential
    • Villainous Breakdown: "No, you fool! My performance was perfect!"
      • You... IDIOT! Moronic lump of filth! You are nothing! Puh! AHHHHHH! I needed the power! I needed it! D'ni needed ME! You threw it away to this witch and her legion of scum, the demon slaves! You have released the slaves as masters! You've turned the small to great! Curse the Maker...
    • Wham! Episode: The death of Willow "Wheely" Engberg in Uru Live (i.e. the slaughter of a teenaged girl) was roleplayed out over chat.
      • When the player behind the character Pepsi in Uru Live died in real life, it came as quite a shock. Years later, in the D'ni Games (a fan-created Olympics-styled event) of Until Uru, the Pepsi Memorial Marathon was named in honor of her.
    • World of Chaos: The worlds created in-universe, rather than the universe itself.
      • Some of the worlds created in-universe. One of the underlying principles of the Functional Magic is that perfectly habitable worlds can be very, very different from each other; it's just that some of them have trees that grow inside-out (Edanna, Myst III: Exile), or aquatic microbes that avoid heat and take the water with them (Riven), or wooden ships that are sticking out of the side of an island (Stoneship, Myst).
        • And that last one's arguably a mistake, as per Atrus's journal.
      • Taking this to its logical extent is Torus, which is perfectly habitable despite that everything Atrus knows about the Art says it shouldn't be: a two-sided disc, one light and one dark, the latter of which contains kitten-like flowers, air-swimming fish, and dividing snakes; Rain falls on the light side into a giant lake centered on a whirlpool through which pours through to the dark side, where it arcs up in an enormous fountain and evaporates before circling the perimeter and precipitating again.
        • Catherine seems to have a special talent for "breaking the rules" as it were: magical spirit world in Serenia anybody?
    • World Tree: The Great Tree of Possibility is a motif revered by the D'ni, and appears in many places where the mystic circles of that society held sway. The World Tree also appears in several games:
      • In Riven, that Age was once dominated by a great tree, which the people worshipped, but Gehn's faulty writing caused it to die and he cut it down. When Catherine wrote a new Age for the Moiety, it was dominated by a similar tree.
      • In Myst III: Exile, Edanna is a giant tree in which an entire ecosystem thrives, written such by Atrus to demonstrate the interconnectedness of all life.
      • In Uru, there's the Great Tree Pub which is built around a very ancient tree in the city of D'ni.
    • Zip Mode: Trope Namer and a handy way to get from one end of an Age to another.

    Tropes found in Myst and its Updated Rereleases


    Sirrus: "My dear friend. You've done the right thing. You stupid fool! Hahaha!"

    • Game Breaking Bug:
      • There is a bug in the Mechanical Age that can prevent you from rotating the fortress, requiring the use of a game guide to find the solution to the age's last puzzle.
      • The brightness of the images in Myst is set for the Mac screen gamma of 1.8. On the PC, with a gamma of 2.2 (and with monitors of the time often being even darker), a key switch in the Channelwood age is invisible in the shadows. You can deduce that there's something special about that location from the in-game maps, but you won't be able to see it. The Stoneship age has a similar problem with the doors to the compass room being too dark to see, but this time, there's no map.
    • Lighthouse Point: In the Stoneship Age.
    • Minecart Madness: The Mazerunner in the Selenitic Age.
    • Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: Sirrus and Achenar.
    • Nintendo Hard: The puzzles in this game are so notoriously obtuse, the original box contained a small notepad to encourage players to write information down. Developers Rand and Robin Miller even admitted that they doubted half of players who bought the original game never got past the first island.
    • Sequel Hook: The good ending contains several blatant ones for Riven.
    • Shout-Out: The never-seen Osmoian Age, mentioned in the Channelwood journal, is a nod to Cyan's earlier game Cosmic Osmo, which was set in the Osmoian solar system.
    • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: The Mazerunner in the Selenitic Age uses sounds to guide you along the correct path. Unfortunately, unless you've already been to the Mechanical Age, you'll have to figure out for yourself what the sounds actually mean. In the Mechanical age, the same sounds are used to indicate which direction the fortress is rotated, and stand for the same cardinal directions.
    • Take a Third Option: Do you trust the brother without the more obviously 'mad' and 'evil' attributes, or assume it's some sort of misleading trick and trust that one? The answer is to trust neither.
    • What the Hell, Player?: Atrus doesn't react well to your stupidity if you go to D'ni without bringing the missing linking book page.

    Tropes found in Riven

    • Ascended Glitch: Some of the glitches in the game involve various moving segments of machines and paths being in the wrong position on certain screens, a number of them involving the submarine train in the village. One of these misplaced images of the sub was eventually used in the easter egg path.
    • Covers Always Lie: The Age of Tay is shown on the box art, but in-game, your only exploration of it is the shoreline, and a small prison cell, where you can look out into the Age's inner village, but never explore it.
    • Fission Mailed: If you enter the trap book when Gehn asks you to, the screen goes black. And stays black for the better part of a minute before something happens. The development team apparently wanted to make it longer, but the testers thought their computers had crashed.
    • A God Am I: Gehn seems to fancy himself one.
    • Indo-European Alien Language: The Rivenese language that the Moeity and Cho speak is actually Tok Pisin, a dialect known to a certain area of Papua New Guinea. Direct translations for the dialogue have not been released though.
    • It's Always Sunny In Riven
    • Press X to Die: Using the Trap Book from your inventory at any point in Riven nets you a bad ending. There is one point where you do have to use it, but then it's being offered to you by Gehn and isn't in your possession.
    • Quicksand Box: The other games are divided into discrete, self-contained ages which can be completed independently of each other. Riven is almost completely comprised of a single, gigantic age, and it can be frustratingly easy to lose track of everything you have or haven't done yet.
    • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Non-time-travel variant; Gehn isn't a particularly good linking author, so the quantum-uncertainty thing the linking books have going on makes the Ages he links to dangerously unstable. Atrus is much better at writing linking books than his father, and reckons he can use those same quantum-uncertainty shenanigans to salvage Gehn's Ages, or even undo the damage Gehn caused; but it's a very time-sensitive endeavor because Ages don't stop deteriorating just because you're not in them, and some are beyond saving already.
    • Villains Out Shopping: The supplemental booklet for the soundtrack contains extra pages from Gehn's journal where he discusses some of his hobbies.
    • What Happened To The Squee?: You don't hear from Gehn after he is imprisoned. Does he mend? Does he die unreformed? Is he lost in the library fire?

    Tropes found in Exile

    • Alphabet Soup Cans: Atrus installed them into Amateria and Voltaic, and Wrote them into Edanna. Justified in the fact that all 3 of the ages were (in-universe) meant to be learning experiences, first for Atrus' sons, then for Atrus himself (whom the player so conveniently goes in place of).
    • Convection, Schmonvection: In Voltaic, there is a room that you can fill up with lava. As long as you drain the room before entering, you can waltz inside without waiting for the room to cool down first. You can also stand on a platform suspended just inches above the lava, and suffer no ill effects.
    • Drop the Hammer: Another reason why you shouldn't anger Saavedro.
    • Follow the Plotted Line: The lack of any obvious goal in Edanna, combined with its confusing layout, brings this trope into play. As a result, you find yourself simply solving all the puzzles that present themselves to you, without ever knowing why. In case you're curious, what you're trying to do is free the Grossamary bird from the giant flytrap, then call it from a cage in the swamp to have it come pick you up and take you to the location of the symbol.
    • I Lied: Saavedro offers to return Releeshahn to the player freely at the end of Myst III when it turns out he can't return home without help. If you take up his offer directly, he gleefully tosses the book into an abyss and scampers off home.
    • It's Personal: Saavedro's motive.
    • Press X to Die: Using the Tomahna Linking Book anywhere that Saavedro can physically reach it at the end of Exile will not end well for you, or anyone else.
    • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Saavedro subsisted on little squirrel-like creatures called Squees. No relation to Squee, a trope with the same name.
    • Tagline: The Perfect Place to Plan Revenge.
    • Video Game 3D Leap: Sort of. You still click from screen to screen, as you did in the original Myst and Riven, but each "screen" is now a cycloramic (cyclorama=360 degree panorama) view that allows you to look freely in all directions.
    • Villainous Breakdown: Once you finally manage to turn the tables on Saavedro.
    • What the Hell, Player?: If you decide to leave Saavedro trapped at the end of the game, Atrus calls you out on it in the epilogue. The official hint guide also gets in on it.

    Q: "I trapped Saavedro and he gave me the book. Can I go now?"
    A: "Sure. After all, Saavedro hasn't suffered yet. Twenty years is nothing, really. Think how much fun it would be to leave this tormented fellow stranded with the knowledge that his civilization (and perhaps family) thrives just out of reach... It might be interesting, in a clinical sort of way, to see how he reacts. You heartless cad."


    Tropes found in Revelation

    • Big No: Sirrus.
    • Underground Level: Spire, for the most part. Until you see the sun under the clouds.
    • Jungle Japes: Haven, although a bit more realistic than most portrayals since there are no vines to swing from.
    • Lost Woods: The first part of Serenia, and your introduction to the Age. However, it's given a twist: the Lost Woods are more like Lost Stones.
    • Nostalgia Level: Atrus' study and Courtyard on Tomahna, taken directly from Exile. It's only accessible after you leave Serenia once.
    • Hub World: Atrus' estate in Colorado, dubbed "Tomahna".
    • Villainous Breakdown: Achenar suffered one in Haven. After realizing he was trapped on his own with no Linking Book, his already unstable mind underwent a complete psychotic meltdown, causing him to butcher his way through half the Age's animal inhabitants in blind rage. Ultimately subverted, as he eventually came to terms with his fate and realized with all the blood on his hands just why he deserved to be there. Eventually, this lead to his redemption.

    Tropes found in URU

    • Fungus Humongous: The age of Teledahn.
    • Made Of Nara: Your avatar can fall four stories without panic-linking and not be harmed.
    • Recursive Canon: The Uru series accepts the Literary Agent Hypothesis in regard to the early games in the Myst series.
    • Socialization Bonus: Several puzzles (Eder Tsogal, Eder Delin, Ahnonay, and the pellets in Er'cana) were originally designed to require multiple players to complete. They were redesigned to be possible to complete solo once Uru Live fell through the first time. The pellet puzzle got the worst treatment. In the two-player version, one player would drop a light-emitting pellet down to an unlit lower chamber. Another player would wait in the unlit chamber, and snap photos of the hidden images on the walls once the chamber was illuminated by the first player. But in the one-player redesign, the links to the chambers are mysteriously set 14 minutes apart from each other. You have to drop a light pellet in, then go to the lower chamber and wait 14 whole minutes of real time for the pellet to fall and give you 15 seconds of illumination. And to think, none of these avatars consider bringing along a flashlight...
    • Time Travel: Ahnonay. How does one linking book manage to take you to three different eras, when all books up to this point could only ever take you to one? Well, it doesn't. You eventually discover that the "age" is actually a bunch of three very convincing sets (and one unfinished one) contained in giant spheres connected to an even larger rotating mechanism. No doubt Yeesha would be green with envy.
      • Why? She and the Bahro can do it quite well on their own, thanks very much. For proof, see Uru Live's Minkata.
    • Uncanceled: The multi-player component was canceled before it came out of beta, but brought back to life a few years later by GameTap as Myst Online. Then, after little over a year, it was canceled again. Then plans were announced for a version of the game using fan-made content... which was canceled. Cyan then decided to release the whole thing as open-source, and to just let the fans deal with it. After that, it was uncanceled yet again, and the service is currently free to play.
    • Violation of Common Sense: To reach a certain location in URU Live, you have to leap off an island in a drop which must be well over a hundred feet.

    Tropes found in End of Ages