Myst IV: Revelation
The words of Atrus and his sons should ring familiar to anyone acquainted with the worlds of Myst. The lives of Atrus and Catherine, their sons Sirrus and Agenar, their daughter Yeesha, and the entities that closely surround them became embroiled in a morass of science and magic that left a definitive mark on interactive entertainment in general, and, in particular, served as an influence that changed adventure gaming forever.
When the fourth Myst game came out, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, it was a turn for the worse. But in the background, the franchise was being kept alive by a team of developers that are dedicated to breathing new life into the saga. Myst: Revelation is a direct sequel to Myst III: Exile. Although there is an extraordinarily large quantity of Myst fiction floating around speculating about the history of the Dâ€™ni, a people whose ability to write â€œlinking booksâ€ enables them to preserve various â€œAges,â€ the basic gamestory is really quite simple.
In Myst, Atrusâ€™s sons go bad; in Riven, his wife Catherine needs rescuing; and in Exile, an escaped madman travels through the Ages bringing information about what has been going on with the estranged sons. Uru was its own kettle of fish, but now Revelation, as its name suggests, will provide some closure to the story of Atrus and his family.
There is more live action video in this game than in all of the other Myst games combined. As the game opens, youâ€™ll encounter Atrus, portrayed for the fourth time by Myst co-creator Rand Miller (who said after Riven in 1997, â€œI will never play Atrus againâ€). In true adventure game fashion, he needs you to help align sine-wave patterns on a video monitor. Oh no! Something explodes! He asks you to restore power to the area and rushes out leaving you in a state that Myst fans will remember well – alone and surrounded by lots of mysterious gadgetry.
Each Myst game pushed the limits of photo-realism in computer games, if more or less by trickery. By pre-rendering the visuals with such extreme detail that no video card at the time could hope to run in real-time, the Myst series have given us games that looked both wonderful and extremely static. That same level of jaw-drapping artistry mixed with pre-rendered trickery powers Myst IV, but gone is the static slideshow-style gameplay that plagued previous versions.
The game still retains the familiar node-to-node navigation system, but everything around you makes it feel like you’re in a living, breathing 3D fantasy world. You can look anywhere with the free-floating camera – up, down, left and right – and are graced with the most beautiful visuals seen in any point and click game. You can watch the trees as they gently breeze in the distance, the clouds as they move slowly, or catch glimpses of little insects buzzing around you. It’s all very vibrant, and it looks superb.
The same kind of puzzles and gameplay are on offer – there’s no inventory, and hardly any characters to interact with. It’s just you and the every manner of odd machinery, most of which you have to fix or otherwise figure out how to operate. You’ll later visit two worlds where the two exiled brothers are held – Sirrus and Agenar – offering a change of scenery and new mechanical-themed puzzles to solve.
For the first time ever, a Myst title has a menu-accessible hint system. The system has three levels of hints that will give either a gentle nudge, a small push, or a direct shove toward the solution, depending upon your level of frustration. Many of Mystâ€™s puzzles are notoriously challengingâ€”some would say â€œexcessivelyâ€ so. The team behind Myst IV say theyâ€™ve done exhaustive testing, first with scraps of paper and cardboard, and eventually with focus groups to try and make this â€œfrustration freeâ€ thing a reality.
After the original game revolutionized the gaming industry, we finally get a non-static, frustration-free, drop-dead gorgeous Myst to play. If you’ve ever had any misgivings with the original, don’t worry – Myst 4 Revelation is a much smoother experience. In fact, if there’s any one Myst game you’ll play in your life from beggining to end, it has to be this one.
System Requirements: Pentium III 400 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 64 MB Video, WinXP