Superficially, I thought 'all' that would be required to make a myst style game would be to place the camera inside a 3D sphere, with the sphere's inner surface textured with an appropriately-distorted (to account for the concave nature of the sphere), 2D rendering of a 3D world.
The only thing that I can't really work out is how are some elements of the game alive and moving?
In this video, the sea waves are moving: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju0lACSm7Us
In this one we have some pretty cool particle effects involving clouds, as well as lighting, thought I think the lightning is pre-rendered: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CidCIDHFL4
I doubt these effects are actually 3D; I think they are 2D looping movie files. However I could be wrong.
To clarify, how do you think they've achieved such gorgeous 3D effects regarding the water, clouds and lightning?
Are they looping movies? How are these movies presented to the user and integrated so well?