Myst IV Revelation Preview
The next chapter in this classic adventure series will return you to the faraway realm of Myst.
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Myst IV is being developed at Ubisoft Montreal by a team of developers that has apparently done its homework. The team has not only played through all of the Myst games, but it has also solicited plenty of feedback from the series' fans. According to the comments that the team has gathered, fans (and detractors) take issue with how the series has seemed "empty and lifeless," and how the games themselves have been both difficult and difficult to finish. To this end, the team has decided to include an in-depth, three-level "help map" system that will give you simple hints or, if you choose, will simply give you a full-on solution to your current puzzle. But don't worry: If you don't wish to use the hint system, you won't have to; if you avoid it altogether, you may get a slightly different ending sequence once you complete the game.
As far as making the game seem less empty and more vibrant, the team has attempted to make the traditionally static world of Myst much more dynamic by including an all-new graphics engine, aptly named the "ALIVE" engine. While Revelation will, like most of its predecessors, feature detailed 2D graphics, this powerful graphics engine will also render faux 3D scenery in real-time to enhance the depth and size of the game's colorful environments. Revelation will feature over 60 minutes of recorded full-motion video (more than has been featured in all the previous Myst games combined), including face-to-face conversations with Atrus as well as various cinematic sequences that will add a bit of action to your travels and will also help familiarize you with each age. For example, one age we explored was a mountain pass with a path that led to a seemingly empty tent--until a creature leaped out from behind it. We became tangled in the tent and subsequently got caught in an updraft that sent us down to the dense jungle floor below. Dramatic transition sequences like these should definitely help liven up the traditionally stoic, silent world of Myst.
In addition, the game won't be a strictly linear adventure that you'll begin at point A and end at point B, even though you will have to jump between different planar realms known as "ages." However, you'll have a home age set on a hub age, and from there you can jump to other ages in whichever order you like, similar to last year's Uru: Ages Beyond Myst. You'll even be able to tackle different puzzles in any order you care to, provided you can make your way to the appropriate locations within each age. To help you on your travels, you'll have the aid of an improved "zip mode" that will let you quickly and efficiently jump between different waypoints scattered throughout the ages.
Revelation's gameplay will focus on your journey to uncover the fates of the treacherous sons of Atrus in the ages to which they were exiled. You'll find out early in the game that even though it was Atrus' sons who were banished for corrupting and destroying the ages their father had discovered, neither the patriarch nor his wife Catherine, or daughter Yeesha, remained completely unscathed and unaffected. At the beginning of the game, you find that Yeesha is missing, and the only keepsake that her concerned father has is his daughter's magical amulet, which you recover early on in the game. The amulet apparently bears a strong psychic connection to Yeesha, who was last seen fleeing from her brothers. Each time you encounter certain puzzles in the game, the amulet will actually provide you with a memory flashback (played out as a cinematic sequence) that will give you some insight into the context of the puzzle and perhaps a hint about how to solve it. You'll also have a journal that you can use by taking photos of your surroundings for later reference.
In addition to landscapes that are both colorful and dynamic, you can also expect a varied sound score for Revelation. The game will feature an eclectic soundtrack that will include contributions by rock musician Peter Gabriel (who had previously contributed music to Uru: Ages Beyond Myst) and by several eastern European music groups that will provide a distinctive sound for the game and its varied environments. The game will also feature a complex audio suite that will not only include varied footsteps for your character as you tread across wooded paths, stone floors, and other textures, but it will also include a layered audio score that will be appropriate to each environment with respect to climate, layout, and ambient wildlife.
The next Myst game is clearly being developed with both longtime fans and casual players in mind. From what we've seen, the new game will offer challenging puzzles and good-looking, detailed 2D graphics that can be run smoothly even on low-end computers. The fact that the game offers a comprehensive hint system should also prove helpful to beginners. If the development team can make good on the game's potential, Myst IV Revelation will be the best-looking and most dynamic game in the series so far. The game is scheduled for release later this year.