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Myst - The Soundtrack :: Review by Charles

Myst - The Soundtrack Album Title: Myst - The Soundtrack
Record Label: Cyan (1st Edition); Virgin Records (Reprint)
Catalog No.: Promotional; 1-885381-30-1
Release Date: 1995; October 6, 1998
Purchase: Buy at synSONIQ Records


A lot of the best parts of Myst, in my memory, were the parts with no music at all. In fact, it's been so long that, if I had to guess, I would say Myst had no soundtrack other than the main theme! When I noticed there was a full soundtrack to it, composed by Robyn Miller, I was very intrigued to take a listen. After listening I realized why I don't remember any of these tunes. And there's a very good reason for that because there weren't any tunes, but rather a variety of background ambience. The score is certainly ancient, but is it also a timeless listening experience?


It's funny actually. Myst was a point-and-click game from the early 90s, but I would still be scared to death at times. Walking in the underground electrical facility, or any part of the Mechanical Age gave me the creeps! My creeps where never elevated by the melodies or anything. The music was more effective when it used sudden startling sounds like hammering and a sudden pluck of a string instrument. It worked as ambient sound at its best. A lot of themes for the brothers, Achenar and Sirrus, featured a deep suspended cello notes supported by timpani and clanking. These tracks did the job in the game, but they aren't very fun to listen to outside of it.

If we had to talk musically then of the best tracks musically would definitely be "Mechanical Mystgate". It was one of the only tracks I remember from the game and it actually worked well. The timpani were right on key and the synthesizers were quiet enough not to get in the way but add a certain tension. The theme was alright as it gave a pretty good feel and got you ready to get into the game, but it never played during the game so it was never a distraction. It really transports you to that world of Myst. If I should have to explain what that is like, you should just play the game.

While a lot of the music is effective in the game, this isn't true for all of the score. Tracks such as "Compass Rose" or "Treegate" had some unnecessary elements that made Myst feel a little too much like a fantasy. And honestly, the best parts of Myst were when all you could here was that ocean or the wind. These natural sound effects create so much more atmosphere than the sometimes contrived ambient and creepy elements, even if some music was necessary to subtly immerse people into the game.


Robyn Miller certainly did as fine a job as possible, but I believe the developers should have went with their gut instinct and taken the music down to an even more subtle approach. In fact, their original gut instinct was to have no music at all. I feel happy compromise between that and this soundtrack would have sufficed. Those looking for eerie ambient music than you may like this, though most tracks aren't particularly interesting to listen to with exceptions such as "Mechanical Mystgate" aside. The music doesn't bring back any memories either, so if you are a fan wanting to take nostalgia trip, then I would suggest just playing the actually game. This did nothing for me, and I am a Myst fan myself. I respect this soundtrack but I just can't say I love it.

Overall Score: 6/10