Myst IV: Revelation
|a game by||Ubisoft Divertissements Inc.|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 3 votes|
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|See also:||Myst Games|
The reason the point-and-click adventure died several years ago (apart from LucasArts leaving it behind to test the credibility of its Star Wars franchise instead), was that people got fed up with witnessing badly-rendered cutscenes loosely tying together a basic collection of parlour games, shoehorned into the proceedings with all the subtlety of Graham Norton at a prize cucumber judging contest.
One series refused to die though, mostly because by the time the genre hit its darkest hour it was one of the few games still managing to retain its class, style, intelligence and playability while surrounded by a sea of third-rate dross. They may only be played by housewives and geography professors, but the Myst titles have consistently outsold most so-called 'mainstream' games, and with good reason. Put yourself in the right frame of mind and it's nearly impossible not to become captivated.
Step By Step
Myst IVRevelation then. It would have been easy for the developers to have lost heart after the mistakes surrounding URU Live, and it's to Ubisoft's credit that it charged a new team with the task of continuing the story of 'linking books', mysterious worlds and a family of scientific explorers torn apart by inner strife. The end result is one of the most polished games I've come across in a long time.
OK, we're not talking about the true 3D that URU managed, but whatever reservations I had about this return to the 'QuickTime VR'-style environment vanished the first time I tapped the hand icon on different parts of the scenery and heard different noises. And then touched a pool of water in a bucket and saw ripples react exactly based on where the icon touched them. And when I noticed that the light levels in different locations were rising and falling due to the moving clouds in the sky covering the sun. And how your view would subtly shift its focus depending on whether your hand pointer was hovering over something in the fore- or background. It's all in the details and it's precisely why Myst IV keeps you coming back.
But what of the game? Just as good. At no point do the puzzles seem forced or contrived, just intelligent and challenging. The story is told at a perfect pace, and even if you're not familiar with Atrus, his traitorous sons and their imprisonment and subsequent attempts at escape, you'll soon pick it up and find yourself completely hooked.
It is a resource hog, let's make no bones about it. Any game that comes on two DVDs and requires 6GB of disk space isn't exactly appealing to everyone. But if you can find a way to accommodate the game, not just on-your HD but in your hardened gaming soul, you'll find plenty to reward you.
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Eight Hours. Eight. That's how long it took to get from Waterloo to Paris, thanks to the wrong type of tree on the track. Eight hours. I could have played through the whole game in that time. Actually that's not true. I attempted the first puzzle, and instantly got stuck, having to shamefully ask for help. I then spent what seemed like eight hours rolling cannonballs in and out of a box in order to facilitate a makeshift pulley to get to the top deck of a ship to discover the whereabouts of a mythical winged creature... Berated over the years by hardcore gamers, the Myst series has nevertheless spanned over a decade, with the original shifting some six million copies. The big guns have been wheeled out for the fourth instalment proper, which boasts an original track from none other than coffee table favourite Peter Gabriel (apparently Enya was busy).
Storywise, it's a fanciful affair, but fans will be pleased to learn that it answers questions left hanging since both the original Myst and Myst III: Exile. Essentially a family drama, it involves the two brothers from the first game, Sirrus and Achenar, who have been trapped in separate prison worlds, abandoned by their father for crimes against literature.
The engine is developed from scratch, and in a return to the mid '90s, the game features live action, with video of actors integrated directly into the storyline. Throw in the traditional Tourette's-inducing puzzles, and it looks like being business as usual on an even grander scale.
With the game taken out of the hands of long-time developer Cyan and placed in the hands of Ubisoft Montreal, creative director Patrick Fortier revealed, "We didn't want to go off and do something that would lose the essence of what Myst is all about. We obviously wanted to capture that, but in terms of the content we were very free to do what we wanted. When we presented the game to Cyan they said it's really cool how you guys did it because you added your own signature, your own flavour."