Myst III Exile

5Better navigation, looks and smarter puzzles make up this sequel to Riven.

Myst came out of nowhere in 1993, caught the bleeding edge of mainstream attention and went on to be one of the biggest-selling titles of all time. Critics and hardcore game players universally panned it as a slide-show that had little actual gameplay interaction. Many others were dazzled enough by the graphics and art style to look past such limitations, and Myst went down in history as one of the most influential adventure games ever.

The sequel, Riven, didn’t do so well. It was still a slide-show affair with lots of pointing and clicking, but the difficult puzzles made it frustrating for everybody, no matter what their game experience. In this third installment, Presto Studios, (taking over for Cyan, the developer of the other two games) has taken everything that was good about Myst and created an adventure game that caters to both longstanding players and new arrivals as well.

The story picks up after the events in Myst, Riven, and the Myst-based novels (The Book of Atrus, The Book of Ti’ana, and The Book of D’ni). Atrus, the beleaguered Age-writer from the previous games, welcomes you, the player, to the age of Tomahna, where he’s currently working on a new age for the D’ni, a race of people whose world was destroyed in the novels. They’re the folks who figured out how to write Ages in books in the first place. You enter the fray when some stranger bursts into Atrus’ study, grabs his new Age (Releeshahn), and disappears.

The biggest improvement over the previous Myst games is the full 360-degree view of the environment. Rather than display a single postcard, you can move the camera around and examine your newly animated surroundings. It’s not exactly comparable to the freedom you get from a 3D game, but it’s always good to at least feel like you can look around a corner. The wonderful rendered screens and videos more than make up for the lack of movement, sporting enough visual detail to surpass Riven.


As always, Myst is filled with curios gadgets.

Certain puzzles require an attention to detail from previous areas, while others simply require mechanical or spatial thinking. The puzzles are hard enough to make you think, but not so impossible that you have to resort to a hint book to get past them. Each of the Ages contains puzzles that relate to the nature of the Age, and very few of them are completely arbitrary – most times, the puzzle fits in to the concept of the game. And unlike Riven, doing something on one side of an island doesn’t affect something on the far side. Very rarely will you have to leave an area in order to get past an obstacle.

However, the game is still very much a Myst game at the core — a pretty slide show with logic puzzles. There were quite a few people who really tried to play Myst and found it about as entertaining as watching paint dry. These people won’t find much excitement in Myst 3: Exile, but for the fans of the series it should be a real treat.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 200 MB HDD, Win95

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