Those of you who know me are probably aware that I don’t play a lot of games – video, tabletop, or otherwise – and when I do, I tend to stick to only a couple genres. That being said, the subject of this week’s article shouldn’t really surprise anyone either.
The Myst Reader, by Rand and Robyn Miller, is a great example of a video game story that has crossed over into the fully written medium. In the original Myst game, the player (unseen because it’s experienced in first-person, from their perspective, with no option to change the camera angle) is tasked with saving Atrus, who is one of the last remaining members of the D’ni community. In the sequel games Riven and Exile, we help him save his wife while working do defeat his father, and then dealing with his sons, respectively.
As expected, the novelization allows the curious player to delve more into Atrus’ life and the world of the D’ni. The Myst Reader is actually an omnibus anthology of three books – The Book of Atrus, The Book of Ti’ana, and The Book of D’ni. The Book of Atrus tells of his formative years, from the beginning of being abandoned by his father. His grandmother Anna raised him, teaching him to be curious and studious of the world surrounding him, laying the foundation he needed for when his father came back to teach him how to write Books. It ends beautifully with the opening lines that the player is introduced to the game series with (which is honestly one of my favorite things with stories like this – for a prequel to run right up to the beginning of the existing canon). The Book of Ti’ana goes back even further, telling of how Anna, who is fully human, came to join the D’ni community, and the society’s eventual downfall. The Book of D’ni goes foreward, past the end of the Exile game, to tell the story of Atrus’ return to his family’s home, and attempting to rebuild the community.
Being that these books were written by the same people who worked on the games, it’s to be expected that they have the same tone and structure of the stories that came before them. In the games, the player tells the tale, to the point that very few other people are seen, let alone interacted with, over the duration. That’s the real beauty of the novelization, though – as much as the players can learn about the D’ni, Atrus, and his family, from working out the various puzzles set up in each Age, there’s a phenomenal amount of background information that can only be gleaned from being presented in this other format.
People who have played Myst and its sequels will probably get a lot out of reading this book. For others, your mileage may vary. However, even with as many references as are made back to the games, it does stand pretty well on its own. Each volume is available individually, but if you decide to pick it up, I recommend the omnibus in order to see the entire story.
Rating: 5th Gear
[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]