You are a reporter. You are
ambitious, persistent, and you want to be famous. And there is a mystery
to solve that you cannot put to rest -- why has the government built a
huge base on the obscure planet of Reah?
It seems that your luck may improve and that you will soon have an answer.
You may even be about to break a news story so astonishing that your
fellow reporters will drool with envy. The government flies you to a
strange monument. A monument, they say, that is a door to an alternate
reality. Will you solve the mystery? And do you truly understand the risks
that you are about to take?
The dream-like worlds of Reah have an Arabian Nights quality to them. You
are swept into an ancient city, rich with elaborate architectural detail.
You encounter ruins, underground passages, a parched desert, and a lush
oasis. You scale the steps of another multi-tiered city to find fountains
surrounded by bizarre organic shapes. The detritus of everyday life
clutters the cities. It is easy to imagine the missing inhabitants as they
walk to market, weave cloth, plant a garden, or watch the ripples in a
One unusual thing about Reah is that when you start out, not only do you
not know where you are or what you are doing, but you cannot read or
understand the language. The disorientation this causes even exceeds that
of "Myst", in which you are alone and confused, but at least you can grasp
the spoken and written clues.
As you play in this alien-yet-oddly-familiar world, your explorations are
interrupted from time to time by the planet's inhabitants. You are also
visited by the image of a shrouded, faintly glowing person who claims to
be an alchemist. The alchemist serves as your guide/tormenter/helper. The
quality of the acting is about average for a computer game. Don't expect
lip synch -- the video sequences were originally shot in Polish. The
reporter whose role you are playing occasionally comments on the
surroundings -- this can be somewhat jarring, but by the end I did think
that it had actually added to the experience.
I played the DVD version of Reah, in which the graphics were optimized for
the DVD format. At the time this game was published (1998), I thought it
had the sharpest graphics I had seen in a game that allowed 360-degree
panning. Three years later, it still looks good, though the quality of the
graphics has been surpassed (by "Myst III:Exile", for instance).
This game is entirely mouse-driven. There is an inventory with a small
number of items to collect. The inventory feature is easy to use.
Inventory items light up when you reach the right spot to use them. You
might think this would make the game too easy, but believe me, this is NOT
an easy game. In fact, I was truly grateful that the developers took mercy
on me in this small way, because they certainly weren't merciful when it
came to the puzzles.
Reah is definitely a happy hangout for puzzle lovers. I had a good time
with most of the puzzles. Several involve the interpretation of symbols;
this type happens to be a favorite of mine. Most of the puzzles are
logical, but some require very acute observation/analysis of the
environment. A couple involve trial and error (I hate trial and error).
There are no slider puzzles. There are two places in the game that are
somewhat maze-like, but are not true mazes.
The negatives: there are only 16 save game slots -- not nearly enough for
a game of this length.
Also, the panning system could use some improvement. When you pan, the
cursor doesn't change to show when you can move forward. To compensate for
this, you have to pan in brief intervals, always checking to see if you
happen to have found a directional arrow.
The game was very stable when I first played it three years ago. When I
replayed it for the purposes of this review, however, it crashed six
times. Perhaps Reah doesn't like my new DVD drive? Or perhaps it doesn't
like the thirty other adventure games I've loaded on my hard drive in the
The most controversial part of this game is the final world -- a creepy
tower full of winding corridors and locked doors. Here the (mostly
oblique) hints that the game has thrown your way become slightly more
substantial, and you start to figure out the mystery. Before All Is
Revealed, however, there are two particularly difficult puzzles -- one
game in which the player has to make more than 100 moves and another that
requires superhuman visual recognition and sequencing abilities. Here, the
puzzle designers pull out all the stops in an attempt to challenge the
Unfortunately, Reah's ending is precipitous and thus, disappointing. You
are left with the feeling that you really should have had a more
entertaining reward for all the hard work on the end game puzzles. Still,
I liked the solution of the mystery -- too bad it wasn't revealed with a
little more fanfare.
Reah comes very close to being a great game. Take the beauty and
imaginative genius of the gameworld, add a more complex plot, remove (or
simplify) a few of the puzzles, come up with a better ending and voila --
you just might have the perfect Myst-style game.
Reah's developer is the force behind the much-awaited "Schizm". I'm
allowing myself to hope that this time, with "Schizm", the designers have
achieved that perfect combination of adventure gaming elements.
Final Grade :
BAAGS out of 5
copyright © 2002