Having only played the original Myst on PC years ago, I entered the aural realm of Myst III with preconceptions of vague etherealness and expectations of a more Avant Garde approach. At this time, the old adage “don’t judge a book by a cover” was quite relevant. This soundtrack astonished me with its grounded and believable orchestration.
The “Main Theme” is a fantastic beginning; it is enticing, mesmerizing the listener with its renderings of what is sure to be a strange and fascinating journey. The instrumentation is solid, upbeat and light with woodwinds and strings complementing each other through harmonies and melodies, with both loud group choral and single voice choral throughout.
The soundtrack continues with its inspired sounds: “Atlus’ Study” is a little vaguer, with a lot of high pitched woodwinds and bells, and the “Saavedro” pieces (theme, lair, entrance) are dark and menacing without sounding too contrived or obvious.
Of additional note are “Theme from Amateria” and “Theme from Voltaic.” The Amateria Theme is striking, initially containing some dissonance between oboe and English horn over light percussion, then like a blurry picture suddenly coming into focus, the melody comes through, overlaid by a well placed choir that defines the piece, rather than interfering with it.
“Voltaic” is reminiscent of Holst’s “Neptune.” You realized you just listened to a good piece of music, but no aspect of the melody or harmony stays with you, and the composer knows enough about the trade to differentiate between random chords or pushing the symphonic elements to the limit in good taste.
As the soundtrack continues, the composer Jack Wall continues to show off his considerable versatility and talent. Considering the game’s ambiguous and puzzle-based nature, it is a formidable task to compose an entire soundtrack without using the same “tricks” while maintaining the key atmosphere. The final pieces “The Tide Has Turned”, “All is Well My Friend” and “Going Home” are all superbly done and really my only complaint is how short they are.
All in all, this is a fantastic soundtrack, my only complaints is that, similar to Nobuo Uematsu in Final Fantasy VII, Jack Wall seemed to take a particular liking to a saxophone sound and incorporates the soulful sound in many pieces, blurring the distinction between exclusive tracks. In addition, the chord structure can occasionally be very dependent on the half-note anticipation, but again, it is always fitting and never seems overbearing.