Myst IV Revelation E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

We delve once more into the world of Myst for our viewing of the fourth game in the series.

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The Myst series endures as one of the most beloved in gaming, with its characteristically rich, immersive, beautiful worlds, interesting characters, involved mythos, and challenging puzzles. It's also endured many changes in its development teams, and this time, it's Ubisoft Montreal who will be bringing us Myst IV Revelations. In our first look at the game, it seems as if Ubisoft Montreal is well on its way to producing an interesting and worthy successor to the Myst name.

The story of Myst IV Revelations will hearken back to the very first game, Myst, and your two major antagonists in that game, the brothers Sirrus and Achenar. Fans of Myst will recall that at the end of the original game you imprisoned the corrupt brothers in the worlds of two separate books. In this game, Atrus (the father of Sirrus and Achenar) is petitioned by his wife, Catherine, to finally free their sons from their punishment. As they argue, there's an explosion in one of Atrus' labs and their 10-year-old daughter, Yeesha, disappears. Atrus appeals to you for assistance in finding her, and you will embark on a journey that will take you through four different "ages," including the worlds that you stranded Sirrus and Achenar in, in the first game. Ubisoft Montreal promises that Myst IV Revelations will at last reveal what has happened to the brothers.

The game will play much like the other titles in the series, as a first-person adventure. You will be able to move through the world and explore its many areas by simple mouse-clicks. You will be able to interact with just about anything you can reach in the game, from turning on a table lamp, to crouching by a puddle of water and touching its surface to create ripples, to using your hand to gently swat away moths from a light source. You'll pick up a number of different items in the game, and one such item that we saw was an amulet that had belonged to Yeesha. Upon picking up the item, there was a flashback sequence depicting Yeesha herself fleeing from someone or something. The developers told us that there will be numerous flashbacks of this type during the game as you uncover the mysteries surrounding the girl's disappearance. There will also be many journals scattered throughout the different worlds that will provide backstory and context to the game, and we were told that puzzle solutions won't depend on information found in these supplemental materials. Also, the game will have an available "hint" system for puzzles that you will be able to consult for up to three levels of clues to complete certain challenges.

The developers refer to Myst IV Revelations as "Myst comes to life," and the level of detail and immersion in the areas of the game that we saw would support this statement. The environments were full of the kind of rich detail that's come to be expected of Myst games, but instead of resembling static portraits, many had dynamic elements. In a jungle, bog-type world that we saw, the air was alive with dragonflies flitting to and fro and strange creatures preening themselves by the water. Another world consisted of a barren, rocky island surrounded by jutting crags that were being pounded by surf that exploded against the rocks and into the air. On the sand, crabs clustered around a dead fish, feeding themselves. (Apparently, one of the brothers was confined to this island.)

Such environments were also full of sounds, like the surf and the insects. In addition, when interacting with objects, there were a myriad of sound effects. Tapping on a table produced a heavy, wooden sound, and tapping on a glass lamp produced a light, ringing sound. While most of the cast of characters is not yet finalized, Rand Miller (one of the founders of Cyan, who developed the original Myst) will be reprising his role as Atrus.

Fans of the Myst series and adventure game fans will definitely want to keep their eyes on Myst IV Revelations, which is currently scheduled for release on the PC in September of this year.

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