Myst III: Exile builds on the legacy of the series and provides an almost magical sense of wonder.
What happens when you create one of the biggest-selling computer games of all time? You get a lot of fans, and a lot of detractors. Since its release in 1993, Myst and its sequel, Riven, have sold approximately 10 million copies worldwide. Published just when the CD-ROM format was gaining widespread acceptance, Myst took advantage of the CD's huge storage capacity to create a gaming experience quite unlike any other. Through a nearly transparent point-and-click interface, you navigated a surrealistic fantasy island created from beautiful static scenes rendered in high resolution. Playing Myst was like wandering into an enchanted art gallery, and the gameplay was paced like a leisurely stroll. The learning curve was flat--the difficulty came only in solving the adventure's challenging puzzles. You couldn't die in the game, and there was no combat of any kind. It was refreshingly different. Now the Myst colossus is striding back on the gaming scene with Myst III: Exile, a game that builds on the legacy of the series and provides an almost magical sense of wonder.
Between its visual beauty, its interface (which you can learn in less than a minute), and its utterly inoffensive puzzle-solving style of play, the original Myst became an unprecedented success. Many people who normally wouldn't touch a computer game took to Myst with amazing enthusiasm, which bewildered a lot of hard-core gamers. Some of these players in turn blamed Myst for the demise of the adventure game genre when countless uninspired copycats followed in its wake. Myst's simplicity, pacing, and postcardlike images were widely condemned by those favoring more action, interaction, and depth. It's no secret that adventure games, whose death has been prematurely announced time and time again of late, are struggling to stay alive. However, recent games such as the critically acclaimed The Longest Journey have shown that adventure gaming hasn't breathed its last breath just yet, and Myst III is probably more likely to help reinvigorate the genre than to hurt it.
Myst III: Exile builds on the mythology of the first two games. Central to the stories in Myst and Riven are the D'ni, a race with the ability to write magical books that create links to the worlds, or "ages," described in them. In Myst, you learn that Atrus, a part-D'ni scribe, imprisoned his malicious sons, Sirrus and Achenar, in other ages and then destroyed the books linking to them, leaving the sons trapped forever. These very sons give rise to the story behind Myst III.
Myst and Riven were developed by Cyan, founded by the brothers Rand and Robyn Miller. Though Cyan handed over development reins to Presto Studios for Myst III, Rand Miller reprised his role as Atrus in the new game. His wife, Catherine, is played by Maria Galante. The villain of the story, Saavedro, is acted with flair by Brad Dourif, the Academy Award-nominated actor best known for his dark, eccentric roles in numerous horror and science-fiction films and TV shows. The actors deliver convincing performances and are also smoothly incorporated visually into the prerendered scenes of the game.
One of the great appeals of the Myst series has always been its ability to immerse you in visually memorable fantasy worlds. The same is all the more true in Myst III. The developers pull off the impressive feat of letting you freely and smoothly pan your view in any given scene in all directions with the mouse. This may not sound like much to anyone used to 3D shooters, but the level of detail in the game often borders on photo-realism. The ability to "mouse look" is enormously effective at drawing you into the worlds of the game and makes mere sightseeing highly entertaining.
What really grabs your attention, though, isn't merely the enormous detail of the graphics, but how that realism is coupled with surrealistic whimsy. The game has the rare capacity to evoke a real sense of wonder as you explore its various locations. The island of J'Nanin, for instance, features buildings carved inside giant tusks that gracefully arch from the ground. The age of Amateria looks like an otherworldly amusement park. Winding stairs feature unusual embossed decorations, articulated machinery is made of fine gears and elegantly carved spindles, and gigantic flora looks alien while at the same time appearing remarkably reminiscent of real plants. The occasional animations are superbly rendered, and some are quite amazing. Sadly, there are no graphics options, outside of selecting software or hardware rendering. To alter the gamma or brightness, for instance, the option screen simply tells you to adjust your monitor. That oversight is unfortunate, since many areas in the game are extremely dark, so it can be easy to overlook things.
- Player Reviews: 20
- Game Universe:
- Myst III: Exile (XBOX, MAC, PC, PS2),
- Myst IV: Revelation (PC, XBOX, MAC),
- Myst (JCD, PC, PS, MAC, SAT, 3DO, AMI, PSP, CDI, DS, IP, 3DS),
- Riven: The Sequel to Myst (PC, PS, MAC),
- Myst V: End of Ages (PC, MAC),
- Real Myst (PC, MAC),
- Myst 10th Anniversary Collection (MAC, PC),
- Uru: Ages Beyond Myst (PC),
- Myst Trilogy (PC),
- Myst: Masterpiece Edition (PC)
- Number of Players: