PC REVIEW: MYST IV REVELATION

It's been over a decade since the original Myst game debuted and changed the face of computer gaming forever. Like Doom, Myst, is the consummate game of its genre, the one that has inspired countless imitations and variations. It's the game that others are compared to. Therefore it's only natural that all sequels in the Myst series are held to a higher level of standard. Thankfully the developers are well aware of that fact and have once again risen to occasion to provide fans with a great new adventure game that does the Myst name proud.

Myst IV Revelation couldn't be easier to navigate. Using the mouse, all you have to do is point and click to move in any direction or interact with any variety of objects or menus. That doesn't mean that Revelations is an easy game to play, far from it. It's a puzzle-heavy beast that is guaranteed to frustrate MENSA members. Even the most puzzle savvy of gamers will be tempted to cry uncle at some point. But don't let that scare you away big boy. The puzzles have somewhat of a logical base to them, and there are clues everywhere - but you have to look for them.

Following the same concept as the original game, you play from a first-person perspective as you explore a variety of incredible worlds. These worlds are referred to in the game as Ages. They are like pages in a book, created by the principal character, Atrus. Although these wondrous lands are not in 3D they are interactive and absolutely breathtaking to behold. The original Myst was renowned not only for the gameplay but for the imaginative graphics as well. Each frame looks like a postcard from another planet. Some of the locations are lush tropical paradises while others are dark, brooding lands full of strange creatures. Most of the Ages are void of human inhabitants so there is an element of loneliness that accompanies you on your journey. In a way that's a good thing because you won't have anything to distract you from keeping your mind on solving the puzzles.

In keeping with the adventure premise you are never forced into any particular direction although you will be unable to progress to certain areas until you solve one of the numerous puzzles that confront you. The sense of freedom to explore makes the game feel more personal. There is little in the way of contact with other characters except for notes, journals and ancient iconic symbols. This tends to add an air of relaxation to the pace of the game since you don't have a bunch of people scurrying about waiting for you to stop the world from impending doom.

What you're doing here is never really fully explained until later in the game. You have to unravel the story which coincides with exploring the Ages and solving the puzzles. There are some live cutscenes which feature real actors playing Atrus and his bad-ass offsprings. In an effort to alleviate some of the alienation, a new feature has been added in the way of an amulet that reveals scenes from the past. You'll be able to witness some of the important events that took place in certain areas. These episodes not only help bring the Ages to life but they provide clues to the puzzles and further the storyline.

Another interesting addition is the ability to take snapshots of the various locations. This will enable you to keep a visual record of all the unique places that you encounter, especially cryptic icons and structures. You can refer back to these images to help you with future puzzles.

The puzzles are designed with multiple layers. You have to think ahead since every action elicits a reaction. There is a help menu that will give you varying degrees of clues to help you when you're stuck. I spent a lot of time here I can assure you. It's not because I'm an idiot, It's just that I was in a rush to complete this game to review it. I don't recommend rushing. Take your time and enjoy the challenge but don't feel stupid if you have to go for help.

The graphics will whisk you away to another place and another time. The landscapes may be alien to our eyes but they resonate with realism within our souls. The music contains a lot of organic, orchestral sounds which add another awe-inspiring dimension. Don't expect any searing lead guitar solos. The voiceacting is generally good and it's nice to see some live actors for a change. They really get into the role.

One must appreciate the nuances of such a game. This is a perfect alternative to curling up with a good book on a stormy night - although the storm could last for weeks.

 

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System: PC
Dev: Ubi Soft
Pub: Ubi Soft
Release: Sept 2004
Players: 1
Review by Shelby
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
5.0
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
2.0