Review by Orb
Have you ever played Myst? Kind of a redundant, cloying
question in adventure gaming circles, one would suppose. Actually,
it's a redundant question to over 7 million people who have
apparently bellied up to the Cyan bar, according to long-term
With that in mind, I am not going to cover Myst 101 here
and will take the liberty of assuming that you, the ever-enlightened
gaming reader, have some sort of at least vague understanding
of what this point-and-click milestone is all about.
realMyst is the technological grandchild of the original
game. It is really the same old fable of greed and evil and hope
and redemption wearing a fancy new dress and the latest shade
of Revlon lipstick. And with that analogy in mind, one could go
a step further and say the Rime Age is the virtual gaming equivalent
of a boob job. Something's been added, but when you get up close
and personal, it just doesn't feel like the real thing.
A real plus to this latest incarnation is the fact that Cyan
was able to take the feel of the original Myst and, despite
all of the technical bells and whistles, have it retain the air
of the very first version, not turning it into a Riven redux
or Exile clone (wouldn't that be funny?).
Getting to the heart of the matter, regarding the graphics (and
that's really why we are here, is it not?), I'll admit it. I finished
the game, then went back to the original Myst just to see
how big the difference is. And the changes are remarkable and
quite an improvement. Creating a real-time 3D environment, Cyan
has really surpassed the feeling of any previous incarnation of
the series. In fact, of all the updated technological improvements,
and minor and not so minor touches, the new look is definitely
the highlight. The degree of intricacy and detail in the rendering,
looking up close at the new and improved surfaces, gives the eye
candy junkie a new high.
The other big (read: most obvious of all) change to Myst is
the addition of a new age not found in the original. The Rime
age, as Cyan has christened it, is a tacked-on, muddled hodgepodge
of delightful and cumbersome playing. The age is beautifully constructed
... and a letdown. It is not long, ends abruptly (occurring after
the original's ending), and really has the feel of being stuck
on as an out-of-place afterthought. The puzzle design in this
section is at best uneventhe first discovered puzzle is
a clever triumph after a couple of red herring areas, and the
final puzzle is a wheezy letdown with a cruddy payoff. Were the
ambient sounds more intense at Rime? Seems like it, but that could
just be me.
Some minor but worth-commenting-on touches. The original has
a bit of animated butterfly floating by on the main island as
one traversed down the path, giving it a whimsical air. realMyst
has built in a few more butterflies, and they are a little
fancier. The incredible freedom of movement in the environments
makes a grave marker accessible on the side of a grassy hill,
an homage to a character only a reader of the Myst series of novels
would grasp. Time changes throughout the ages, moving from daylight
to dusk to night and back, giving the environments an eerie reality.
One thing surprising to me in the replay was the realization
that Myst does not use soundtrack music throughout, but
uses it instead to heighten atmosphere in strategic locations.
In realMyst, ambient sounds were phenomenal. Using headphones,
sounds played from the direction that they would be coming from,
were the person actually there, a difference accentuated in the
new Rime age. Blowing wind sounds were incredibly real. How cool
Many changes about the game get this player's hearty thump of
approval, yet there are a few drawbacks that noticeably detract
from full immersion and enjoyment of the game.
One of the changes (and not for the better) was the removal of
the fast movement system whereby the player could "zip"
to a previously visited location by clicking on a lightning bolt
on that portion of the screen. What is so ironic about this bit
of Myst minutia is that Presto added this capability into
Exile, which gave that game the feel of the original
Myst, and the creators of the original and this latest
"final" version have ripped it back out. Go figure.
In its place the player holds down the mouse button to shoot forward
like a cannonball until the mouse is let go.
The game's new freedom of movement is both a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand, the player is able to creep around within game
environments through places that a live person in a similar position
would be most likely to actually walk, a freedom-of-movement design
first implemented a few years ago by Altor Systems with their
ahead-of-its-time game, Nightfall.
A major drawback to this, however (at least in the Mac version),
was that the slightest movement of the mouse caused the screen
to move around on a hair trigger, causing the environment to swirl
about like Dean Martin at happy hour. It was much easier to use
the keyboard directional keys.
There are only five save game slots and a "previous visit"
slot. Unlimited was better by far. However, the save screen now
gives screenshots of where the player saves, which is fantastically
more helpful than "selenicageblablabla."
As for the puzzles, you know the drill. If you like mechanical
puzzles, this is a feast; if you hate them, a famine. After seven
years, I had managed to forget the solutions to all of the puzzles,
which definitely increased the happy factor in replaying it. One
nice thing about Myst is the simplicity of gameplay. No
pixels to find, no inventory to haul, and really not a monumental
amount of notes to take if you know how to look for puzzle clues
(and if not, the practice is good for you).
Upon initial release, quite a bit was made of the high system
requirements for both the PC and Mac versions. In playing the
game through, it is understandable that Cyan was interested in
being able to recreate the aura the first-time players felt in
playing their way through the game. But one wonders, with millions
of original customers to sell to, and a probable host of additional
newcomers, whether this was also a strategic marketing ploy to
attempt to extend the shelf life of the title to the remarkable
range the original enjoyed.
With that in mind, it will be interesting to see if, a couple
of years from now once these graphics are dated, it gets fiddled
with again. I had a look-see and spotted plenty of places on the
island for an additional trap door to a new age.
Release Date: November 2000 (PC), April 2002 (Mac)
Four Fat Chicks Links
Windows 95/98/2000/ ME
Pentium II 450 MHz
64 MB RAM (128 MB recommended)
300 MB free hard disc space
16 MB video card with 3D acceleration
DirectX 7 compatible sound and video cards
Power Mac G3 300 MHz
OS 8.6 or later/64 MB RAM
OS 10.1 or later/128 MB RAM
3D video card
16 MB memory