URU: Complete Chronicles, how to begin?
Did you play/like Myst or any of its sequels?
Did you feel like a genius when you finally solved a puzzle?
Did you beat it without using a guide?
Don't worry if you didn't play all or even most of them, as URU only has small shout outs to these games. However, you should be at least familiar with how these games work.
To answer the questions:
No, you don't need to have played or liked the other games but if you haven't at least played them, or remotely liked them, then this game is not for you.
If you felt like a genius when you finally solved a puzzle by yourself then you will feel like the most intelligent person ever when, or more likely if, you solve even ONE of the puzzles contained in this game without a guide, especially if you can solve the final ones without any hints what-so-ever.
The puzzles in this game range from mind-screws and mind numbingly difficult to fourth dimensional radical geometry, in that some of the answers seem to come from nowhere. Each book (Books represent different levels) is a self contained world with its own puzzles and is not connected to other books (at least the base game), so there is no jumping from book to book, but you may have to jump out and back in to advance to different areas within the book. Some of the puzzles are quite interesting once you realize what they are actually about. The expansion levels and their puzzles become almost impossible, as if it were designed for multiple people to play at once to solve them (which it was but doesn't have, at least on Steam) but it can still be solved by one person.
Solving the final puzzle will feel like a test of endurance and strength more than intelligence.
So, would I recommend this game?
As much as I disliked figuring some of the puzzles out without any assistance, I can say that I did not dislike the game. I even sort of liked the original levels, once I understood them that is. There were times I was amazed at the level design or when a puzzle was solved and its solution displayed.
The levels were beautifully designed. Once the story behind a level became known, the design of the level became more interesting.
The game URU is about discovering the history of the lost civilization of the D'ni. (The past)
The expansion To D'ni is about the remains of the civilization. (The present)
The final expansion, Path of the Shell, is about a future that will never be.
tl;dr head bashing puzzles, interesting levels, missing multiplayer portion, decent game.