Review Summary: Fans, be pleased; others, be warned.
People listen to movie and video game scores for a number of reasons: some people listen to the music simply because they enjoy the music, while others might listen because they find pleasure in hearing familiar sounds related to something they love. The lucky ones are those who are able to both enjoy the music consistently while also experiencing a satisfactory sense of familiarity. Unfortunately, such might not be the case for people listening to Robyn Miller’s soundtrack of Myst
, a 1993 computer game classic. Fans of the game looking for something to take them back to the good old days of point-and-click movements and pixelated scenery will find themselves thoroughly pleased; however, listeners looking for something to indulge themselves in on their downtime might consider looking elsewhere.
Upon its release, Myst
was a commercial success and a breakthrough in computer gaming. The first-person adventure game was especially well-known for its engaging storyline, the lack of violence and inclusion of thought-provoking puzzles (causing the game to be of higher interest in adults), and scenery which, at the time, was considered realistic. One aspect of the game that was not of high notability during the masterpiece’s early years, however, was the music heard throughout the game. In fact, Cyan, Inc. co-founders Rand and Robyn Miller were initially under the impression that music would detract a gamer’s attention and planned for Myst
to remain exempt of a soundtrack. Eventually, the decision was made that a soundtrack should be added to enrich gameplay.
Cyan, Inc. started off as an independent game development company creating adventure games for children. Prior to the release of Myst
, Cyan’s budget has only ever allowed them to develop the next inclusion to their catalogue. Because of this, when it came to creating a soundtrack the company was forced to work with what they had, which at the time was a grand total of seven employees. Robyn Miller, either after being chosen or stepping up on his own, ended up composing the music for Myst
. In regards to the gameplay, the outcome was quite satisfying; the music when removed from the game, however, falls just short of being a good soundtrack. Miller used synthesizers and tribal percussion to create ambient soundscapes that are, at their very best, somewhat interesting. The tracks are obviously not interesting enough though, especially since each musical piece loses a large portion of their enjoyable aspects when separated from their complementary visuals only found in the game. Issues concerning the ability to enjoy the music also come into play when the majority of the tracks end before reaching a two-minute mark, giving a listener little time to determine whether or not they would enjoy the song to begin with.
For the most part, each track is overwhelmed with the unfortunate issue of low-budget production. While at select points the poor quality creates a somewhat essential mysterious atmosphere, the majority of the soundtrack proves the cheap production to be a nuisance. But when you think about it, can you really blame Cyan? With the company’s small income at the time, using a significant amount of their budget to produce an outstanding and memorable collection of songs was not necessarily at the top of their to-do lists. Still, Miller managed to squeeze out a decent (albeit, decent is all it is) set of tracks that rightfully serves its purpose. The calmer, more ambient tracks are some of the soundtrack’s best moments, being both relaxing and mildly intriguing. The more intense tracks, implementing orchestral sounds and unique melodies, are also some of the album’s highlights, as long as the aforementioned issue of poor production does not drastically affect the quality of the music.
With the Myst
soundtrack, Robyn Miller has certainly proven that he has the ability to write semi-enjoyable new age tunes. Such is a quality that can often be hard to find in a musician on their debut effort. However, Miller is still going to have to take sizeable steps in the right direction in order to improve his new career as a musician. With that being said, the soundtrack of Myst
is a reasonable and necessary one. Be warned though, because for the most part this soundtrack is only useful for nostalgic purposes.
Above Stoneship – Telescope Theme
Achenar’s Theme – Channelwood Age