Real Myst - realMyst

 

Genre:     Adventure

Developer:   Cyan

Publisher:   Mattel Media

Released:   2000

PC Requirements:   Windows 95/98/2000/ ME, Pentium II 450 MHz, 64MB RAM, 300 MB hard disc space, 6X CD-ROM, 16MB Video card with 3D Acceleration, DirectX 7.

Walkthrough   Walkthrough  Walkthrough

 

 

by Becky

What IS it about this game? As I watch the opening sequence, I find that I am experiencing a strange anticipation, almost trepidation. The original "Myst" was the first computer game I played. The sensations felt now as the haunting music plays and a black shape hurtles towards me -- are these just twinges of nostalgia? Again I see a book suspended, surrounded by a field of stars. This time, though the stars are faintly twinkling.
My first impression after arriving on Myst Island is one of surprise. The navigation reminds me of being spun around and around until I am dizzy, with an occasional jolt as I hit the ground while the world keeps spinning. I am out of control, washed up on an alien shore amid the fragments of a familiar dream. It's a modern dream, with bits dredged up from long ago. A formal Greek temple, a rustic cabin in the woods. A giant gear on a rise, a sunken ship. Paintings that swirl, books that talk, and machines that don't work (yet). It's a fairy tale gone wrong somehow, haunted by ominous hints of death by fire and water.

There is an almost god-like power at work here, where words are more than they seem and patterns are palpable, but mysterious. I remember my initial confusion when I played the original "Myst." Does the sign of the anchor have something to do with the sunken ship? Is the arrow a link to the weather vane on the clock tower? A cross -- what does THAT mean? A snake -- perhaps a warning. An eye -- is someone watching?

Despite the surreal quality of this new 3D world, so much here seems surprisingly real. You can almost feel the texture of the wood, almost pick up the stones from the path. There are dozens of small, confirming details -- the accent lights by the dock that wink on when the sun is setting, the sliver of golden light under the cabin door, the reflections on the side of the marble pool. And there is movement. With the navigation mastered, you can move anywhere on the island; look up, down, move up close or contemplate the scenery from a distance.

In RealMyst, the clouds move, as does the sun and the water. The sky changes color constantly. Each "Age" has a whole different feeling to it, not only in the different styles of the landscapes, structures, and interiors, but also in the different natural effects brought about by the passage of time. In successive Ages you are wind-blown, sun-warmed, humidified, rained upon and frozen. It's both fascinating and exhilarating!

Each time I play RealMyst, I am reminded of how much the mood and atmosphere of this game is influenced by what I am hearing. There is so little speech in the game that the effect of the sounds and music are heightened. Outside on Myst Island, there is an almost constant fusion of the noise of wind and water. But at the same time, there is an oppressive kind of silence. This silence intensifies, until you are relieved to step inside a nearby doorway. Inside the library and cabin it is warmly inviting. The underground spaces, though have a menacing quality, due in part to the background music -- is that the sound of water dripping? or is it distant footsteps?

About Rime: it isn't really a new Age. It's more a short reward for having beaten the game. It smooths out the ending of the game a bit, but not enough to merit good marks. You still have that "Am I really done?" feeling when you finish. Like the rest of RealMyst, Rime is startlingly beautiful and lots of fun to explore.

And now for the puzzles. They are the same as in the original "Myst." Some of them I remember well. Others have somehow managed to become harder. This isn't right -- shouldn't I be BETTER now at solving these same puzzles? Shouldn't I be struggling LESS? Isn't it humiliating to consider consulting a walkthrough the second (or third or fourth) time you play a game?

It is possible to play RealMyst with the mouse only. However, I found it easier to use the mouse to steer and to click on hotspots, while using the forward arrow key to move around. The control is considerably easier than in the typical keyboard-controlled game, but not as easy as in a point-and-click-only game. I'd say it's about the same difficulty as the control in "Titanic, An Adventure Out of Time."

Is the game buggy? Well, yes. The saved games take a long time to load. There were also two times when I somehow ended up INSIDE an object, with bits of the object splayed around me. In one location the game renders images about as fast as chilled molasses. However, there is a patch that addresses some (perhaps all) of these issues.

You will need a fairly hopped-up computer for RealMyst. I played on a two-year-old Pentium III 450 with 128 MB of RAM. I do happen to have a video/graphic card with 16 MB of video RAM -- and from what I understand, that much video RAM is essential. The game was optimized for Nvidia-based video cards (I have a Nvidia-based Diamond Viper 770, and I was very happy with the performance). If you are upgrading or buying a computer with RealMyst in mind, consult the RealMyst system requirements before you plunk your money down for new hardware.

Recently, I gave RealMyst to a friend as a way to celebrate the purchase of his first computer. He was entranced by the game. What other adventure games can he play, he will soon want to know. Is there anything out there like RealMyst? I'm having a hard time answering that question. I'm thinking, maybe "Beyond Atlantis" or "Amerzone" or "Zork Grand Inquisitor" or "Morpheus." Each of these games has certain qualities that are similar to RealMyst. But graphically, RealMyst is in a category all its own.

Final Grade :  A+

12-2005

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