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
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
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 :
copyright © 2004