PC REVIEW: MYST V: END OF AGES

Wanted: Gamers to solve the mysterious puzzles of D'ni to bring the series to a conclusion. No previous experience required.

This is the end of Myst. With Myst V: End of the Ages we say goodbye to our old haunt but not before having our brains meltdown due from the overheating of excessive pondering and frustration. You don't have to have played any previous Myst games to get into the finale but if you haven't played a Myst game before I ask you, where the hell have you been for the last decade?

Myst is a point and click adventure game with an emphasis on staggering visual landscapes and extraordinary puzzles that no normal person could possibly solve - but before you go hunting for the walkthrough it's important to know that these puzzles may be a little esoteric but they're not impossible to solve although it may seem like it. You don't have to solve them before you go to bed. Clear your head and take another run at it another day. Solving the puzzles on your own results in a level of satisfaction unrivalled by most videogames.

Yeesha and Esher are the two main characters in this adventure. Yeesha is a panic stricken woman that knows something that we don't. Her diary is scattered throughout the Ages which are essentially different worlds that you can travel to. Piecing parts of her diary will give you clues to the mysteries that surround the Ages as will the cutscenes that you unlock. Esher is a ghost-like character that appears out of thin air to assist you in certain situations. There is a marked tension between Yeesha and Esher that you will eventually uncover.

Unlike the Myst IV, the environments aren't as interactive. They conform to more classic Myst format whereby the only items that are accessible are directly related to puzzle solving. You can navigate through the environments by using the "advanced" control scheme. You can also use the mouse to look around in the environments or you can travel from one place to the next using the traditional mode-to-mode system. The advanced system is my favourite and feels more free and natural.

As usual the environments are barren and lonely. Even the music is minimal with only a hint of ambience. To bring some life into these worlds, a race of creatures called the bahro are ever present and able to appear in any given situation. A stone tablet that you carry around with you will enable you to communicate with the bahro as long as you are able to write the correct symbol on it that they will understand. The addition of the bahro is a good one in that it makes you feel as though you aren't alone.

Once again the graphics are incredible. They are highly imaginative and well rendered. It's just too bad that they weren't all interactive. You're going to need plenty of processing power to see everything the way it was intended. Some chances were taken with the motion captured movement of the characters which looks great in some scenes and just plain creepy in others. The voiceacting is excellent and will keep you on your toes for hints and tips.

I don't want to ruin things for you but just let me say that I was expecting a better conclusion to wrap up such a memorable series. But as with most puzzle-oriented game it's the journey and not the destination that makes it all worthwhile. And it's been one hell of a good ride.

System: PC
Dev: Cyan Worlds
Pub: Ubi Soft
Release: Sept 2005
Players: 1
Review by Kelly
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
2.0