High Programmer > Alan De Smet > Rants > Reviews > Video Game Reviews > realMyst


Rating: 9/10 - A dreamlike, satisfying adventure game
Platform: PC

(My Myst series reviews: realMyst, Riven, Myst III: Exile, Myst IV: Revelation, Myst V: End of Ages)

Myst aged well, at least in the form of realMyst. realMyst takes the original Myst but transforms it from still images to a full 3d world. In the process the game was made far better looking. In terms of play it is identical.

Before the game starts you find an odd book. Inside is a picture of another place, and touching it you are drawn in. Myst begins with you finding yourself on a small, strange island, Myst. Myst is littered with odd machinery. You quickly discover a pair of books, in which two brothers who are trapped. Pages from the books that trap them were torn out and must be found and returned. They beg you to help, but each warns that the other is dangerous. You also discover other books, linking books, that when touched take you to other worlds or Ages as the game calls them.

The core game play involves puzzling out the strange artifacts and machinery left on Myst and in the other Ages . The artifacts on Myst provide access to more Ages. The Ages themselves hide pages of the brother's books. As you play you collect pages, allowing you to more clearly hear from the brothers and eventually, if you chose, to free them. The puzzles are well integrated into the world. They feel like real things left behind by the missing people, things you must now deal with. The artifacts are strange, and suggest very strange people, but manage to not feel like arbitrary puzzles glued into the world.

Interestingly, Myst is almost completely devoid of inventory management. With the exception of the pages you collection, you never need to carry objects from one place to another. While this does limit the possible puzzle design, it does help with the immersiveness. You spend almost all of the game interacting with the world around you, not dealing with out-of-game constructs like your inventory. The puzzles themselves even require appropriate motions; you'll click and pull down on a chain, or turn a knob. This helps with the immersion.

Myst and the other Ages were clearly once inhabited, but you are the only visitor now. Ambient music softly plays, accentuating the background sounds. This and the slightly odd Ages and artifacts give the entire place a dreamlike quality. It somehow seems right that you quietly wander the world and fiddle with things. You cannot die, and while there are sad endings they are only accessible at the very end of the game.

The plot as a whole is simple but satisfying. Not all of the strangeness is explained, but enough is. The happy ending wraps up the important details well. Even the sad endings provide a certain internal logic and closure. The sad endings are almost strong enough to stand as tragedies on their own.

Visually, realMyst has aged very well. It's not stunning by modern standards, but it's good enough. They worked with the strengths of the era's technology. In comparison, the screenshots of the original Myst look terrible. As a result it's still easy to suspend disbelief.

realMyst does add a few puzzles and a single new Age

If you haven't played Myst or realMyst before, I recommend realMyst. While not the first of its kind, it did define a style of play. It deserves the status of classic.

(My Myst series reviews: realMyst, Riven, Myst III: Exile, Myst IV: Revelation, Myst V: End of Ages)

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