What is this thing called Until Uru? I’ve spent
some time lately in this astounding place where the illusory becomes real.
Now it seems the time has come to share what I’ve learned.
A little background:
Published near the end of 2003, Uru is the fifth game release in
the classic Myst series. Uru was intended to function both
as a standalone game and as the gateway to an online community, Uru
Live. Sadly, Uru Live lived only briefly and ended in Feb.
2004. Nonetheless, fan demand continued. Cyan, Uru’s publisher,
listened to the fans and early in 2006 launched Until Uru (UU).
Until Uru is a multiplayer online game unlike any other. You
don’t level up, learn skills or trades, buy equipment, or fight. So, what
is there? Let’s start with a gorgeous, imaginative virtual universe where
you can indulge your love of discovery. Then add in thought-provoking
puzzles. Next throw in a marvelous but decaying city where you can run,
dance, play, and socialize to your heart’s content. Sound interesting?
UU provides all this and more. You are free to explore alone or indulge
your yearning for fellowship and invite your friends along. UU includes
the four Ages of the original Uru game—Kadish, Gahreesen, Teledahn,
and Kemo/Gira. It also includes extensive areas of D’ni Ae’gura, the
2006 release only: Getting there is half the battle.
Gaining access to this fantastical world takes a bit of effort. First,
install Uru on your PC. Next, you need an invitation.
At the moment, access is free and by invitation only. Invitations are
available to one and all by request from
http://220.127.116.11/invitesystem. Alternately, invitations are
available from any member of UU. Just ask and you shall surely receive.
Once your invitation arrives, follow the instructions and install the
UU patch corresponding to your version of Uru. This patch changes
your Uru registry, so you will not be able to play the game without
A character is born.
Now the fun begins! It’s time to create and name your character.
That’s right—you determine your identity. You customize your appearance
down to the width of your face, the shape of your eyebrows, the clothes on
your back, and the polish on your nails. And, you can change the details,
excepting gender, any time.
Let’s begin at the beginning.
Once you’ve created your avatar, UU drops you into the desert of New
Mexico. A bit of looking around introduces Zandi. From the silence he
greets you, delivers a cryptic message, and points you toward the cleft.
Thus begins your astonishing journey.
Eventually, after a bit of puzzle solving and some searching, you
arrive at an island floating in the air and sporting a small hut
containing almost empty bookshelves. Here, the real beauty of this game
hits you as you take in the scene. This is your Relto, your home away
from home. From here, you link to the Ages or the city.
Multiplayer does mean playing with other people, right?
You are alone in your Relto, and perhaps you are impatiently longing
for companions. Hold on, you are almost there. Companionship is waiting
in the city. I fairly danced with delight when I finally joined the
others. However, you have one more task before coming to the city
Make your way to the Gahreesen Age and obtain you KI. This device
resembles a watch, but is worn across the hand, and allows communication
with your companions and others.
KI obtained, you have a choice. You can either investigate one of the
Ages or go straight to the city. If you choose to delve into the Ages,
you can traverse them in any order that catches your whimsy.
Each features landscapes which stretch your imagination and puzzles which
stretch your mind. Reading the journals that you come across teaches you
bits of D’ni history. You can play by yourself. Or--and this is my
favorite way--you can invite friends to join you.
Sharing the load lightens it.
Sharing the Ages is a special experience. The thrill of encountering
the unknown is heightened when you share it. The first sights of the
unexpected surroundings, the occasional call of the bahro, that
tantalizing peek at the elusive creature known as Shroomie are all better
when shared. However, beyond the purely sociable, there are some
pragmatic reasons for team play.
Puzzles in UU are often multi-stepped. Playing alone often requires
the player to move a puzzle part and then change location to observe
consequences. Having extra hands lets you fan out and eliminates this
back and forth tedium. For instance, in one age I depressed a platform, a
friend manipulated symbols in another area, and another friend stepped on
pedals in a third area. Sharing the load enabled us to work out this
puzzle quickly and easily. The puzzles are all solvable by one person
operating alone. But, playing in tandem eliminates a lot of the back and
forth movement, and also the need to move quickly.
Trekking together enables each player to focus on her strengths.
Naturally observant adventurers may more easily locate journey cloths or
puzzle clues. Logical or mechanical ability may be another’s strength,
enabling him to “see” puzzle solutions that a more intuitive gamer might
miss. One player may have better reflexes. My partner jumped first and
then used his knowledge to help me. A directionally challenged person
would certainly benefit by partnering with someone possessing a good sense
2006 release only: And then there is the training wall in the Gahreesen age. Two teams
compete to design and conquer the other’s maze in zero G. This is a bonus
of UU as the wall is viewable, but not playable, in Uru.
Dancing on the bar and other fun things to do:
Before, during, or after the Ages, visit D’ni Ae’gura. This was a
major city of the long vanished D’ni, the mysterious race who created the
linking books, then disappeared, leaving behind only magnificent ruins and
mysterious machines. It is crumbling, yet majestic. This is where folks
come to play and socialize. D’ni denizens invent their own challenges and
games. There is a D’ni version of hide and seek. Oft times, people
meditate in the Hall of Kings quietly listening to its soothing,
otherworldly music. There is the occasional parade or party. We even had
Gamers from all over the world gather here, which makes it a great
place to form new friendships. D’ni Ae’gura is a welcoming spot. Ae’gura
citizens are usually happy to answer questions, and sometimes even provide
a tour or play alongside you.
Welcome to the Neighborhood.
Neighborhoods are alternatives to the city and the Ages. Many groups
have established their own neighborhoods, special gathering areas for
those sharing a common interest.
The ‘hood is a place to play. For example, two or more can play
Ahyoheek, an electronic D’ni version of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The ‘hood
is a source of information, a spot for mingling, and sometimes, just the
place for a conga line. Soak in the ambience. Relax in the Egg room. Or
take in the surreal scenes far below you from the heady heights of the
balconies. The ‘hood contains one of my favorite areas, the water
garden—colorful, peaceful, quiet—just the place to pause and reflect.
Sometimes in the city or ‘hoods, you’ll notice folks running around
determinedly and occasionally flinging themselves off bridges. Never
fear! ‘Tis not a strange D’ni disease. Rather, you’re witnessing folks
pursuing Marker Quests.
Marker quests remind me of electronic hide and seek. The game hides
them, and you seek them using your KI. The markers are sometimes out in
the open, but are often hidden away on ledges, balconies, hidden rooms,
and inside clefts. Hunting markers takes you into every nook and cranny
of UU. Sharing marker quests enables you to cover more territory in less
Is the interface complicated?
This all sounds terribly complicated, and at first, I was overwhelmed.
But the more time that I spend in the world of the D’ni, the easier and
more natural it becomes. You can play in either first or third person
views. I frequently switch between the two. You can navigate using the
keyboard or the mouse. But, you must use the space bar to jump, and jump
You cannot save manually. Instead, UU saves for you and stores the
files on their server. This universe is Alt+Tab friendly.
A fall results in immediate return to your Relto. Sometimes, the view
as you fall is worth it. There is a very interesting view of the bottom
of the world if you jump over the balcony in the library. At times, it is
almost too real, resulting in a slightly queasy feeling.
Sounds and so forth:
There is little voice acting in UU, but it is excellent. Zandi’s
laconic and enigmatic offerings are inflected perfectly. Yeesha’s voice
is filled with regret for what the D’ni have lost, and hope for what the
future may bring.
The ambient sounds are encompassing—you hear yourself run, doors slam,
wheels creak, machines thump, animals call faintly, the wind whistles, and
waterfalls thunder. You are there!
UU has background music in only select areas. When present, it is
usually serene and calming. I revisit some Ages and some city areas from
time to time merely to listen. The absence of omnipresent background
music enhances my immersion into another reality. Its general absence
lends greater impact to its presence.
Did you see that?
The graphics are gorgeous and imaginative. You are simply surrounded
by wonder. However, sometimes I “wonder” what I am missing. The graphics
on my screen are a bit dark. In some places, they are a lot dark. Even
after tinkering with settings, etc., there are many distractingly dark
Pause, but not for effect:
Then there is the dreaded lag. If you’ve not experienced it, lag is
the bane of online gaming and describes a wide range of problems,
including slowdowns and mini-freezes. It is caused by more data
attempting to use the server than the server can handle at one time.
Waiting for a short time usually results in the game resuming. Repeated
often enough, it becomes aggravating.
Lag seems worse in the city than in the Ages, and of course, it varies
according to the population at any given time. I have crashed to the
desktop on occasion, and from time to time turned into a “ghost.” I see
my avatar, but can’t control it. When this happens, I remind myself the
D’mala shard is a free server and that the comradeship and the experiences
of the game are worth the sporadic annoyances.
So what I’m saying is?
UU is a game that caters to your whims. You prefer to play alone? You
can. In the mood for company? You’ll find it. Itching to test your
brain? Tackle the puzzles. Wanting to relax with friends? D’ni Ae’gura
is just the spot. Dance on the pub bar or levitate in the library.
Prefer first person viewpoint? You’ve got it. Can’t stand first
person? Play in third. UU is a very customizable game that lets you play
with the viewpoint and control scheme you are most comfortable with.
UU is truly an alternate reality, another world that lets you decide
how and with whom to spend your time. The cast of characters is
ever-changing. It quickly immerses you with its mystery and its sense of
unity. It is a community of people who gather for diverse purposes. Some
come to learn the secrets of the D’ni, some for the cross-cultural
friendships, and some to simply sit and watch for Shroomie.
Shorah! I hope to see you there soon!
I played on:
XP Professional SP1
GHz Intel Pentium 4
Dual Channel DDR400 SDRAM
DirectX Version 9
DDR NVIDIA Geforce FX5200 Ultra Video Card
updated: February 2010
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