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PLATFORM PC

Myst 3: Exile Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Ubisoft
developer: Presto Studios
genre: Adventure

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
P233, 64MB RAM, 250MB HDD
ESRB rating: E
homepage:
www.myst3.com/

release date: May 21, 01
» All About Myst 3: Exile on ActionTrip


May 30, 2001
Branislav "Bane" Babovic

After some six years, judging by various gaming industry statistics, one may say that the original Myst had been the best sold PC game of all times. Cyan, the team that developed both Myst and Riven, sure made a lot of money and fame on these titles, but the third part of the series was, surprisingly enough developed by another company - Presto Studios (well-known for its adventure - Journeyman Project). The game has been published by Ubisoft (the prequels were published by Mattel, Broderbound and Red Orb) and I must admit that they successfully revitalized the world of Myst with new software technologies and enhancements.

For those of you who spent the last couple of years in a carbon-freezing chamber, so that you don't really know what Myst is, let me explain the core idea of this adventure. The game is a classical Point&Click adventure in which you assume the role of a man who came to strange (yet beautifully pre-rendered) worlds through portal-books, and has to solve a lot of (frequently quite difficult) puzzles in order to go back to his own world.

The Myst mythology (which is especially interesting to the true fans who even read all its paperback editions) is something special. The entire story revolves around magical portal-books, which bond worlds. The story speaks of a man who belongs to the D'ni race, which has the ability to create such books. The books are far more than portals; they are the worlds (or ages as they are referred to in the game) themselves. The Myst serial follows the fait of Atrus, one who creates the Books of Ages. You play the role of a mysterious friend who is there to help Atrus, who always gets into trouble because of his family. The first Myst was about the trouble caused by two Artus' sons who stole their father's books and caused mayhem through the ages, practically exterminating their entire people. Riven dealt with the trouble Atrus had with his father, and the third part brings us back to saving the D'ni people and finally resolving Atrus' fate.

The game commences in Atrus' home in Tomahna Age. He created this age in order to get away from the problems that surrounded him and compile a revision of his diaries and books. He also wanted to get his wife Catherine and their baby out of the danger. After the talk with Catherine and Atrus in his study, you see that Artus acts frightened and paranoid. He sure has a reason to act this way, as this is when the main villain in the game Saavedro appears, breaks the glass sphere and steals the Raleeshahn book. Oh, and he throws a Molotov cocktail at Atrus. Unfortunately for him, he left a linking book behind, and so you set off on your quest to the first age of J'nanin. Throughout the game you will have a chance to marvel the beauties of four more ages: Voltaic, Amateria, Edanna and Narayan. This would be a short introduction to a story whose brain-burst puzzles can take you quite a lot of hours. When you finish the first Age, Atrus will explain what awaits you beyond it. Each age is weird in its own way: one is full of post-industrial contraptions, the other is crammed with Zen elements, and the third is full of plants... Overall, the design is great and bears the air of Myst world regardless of the age you are currently in.

He clues to puzzles are just like before: shapes colors, sounds, and sequences. Fortunately, the developers decided to make the game a bit easier than Riven, which was painstakingly hard. This primarily means that you can now clearly see every change that would indicate the next clue. For instance, turning certain contraptions with colored jewels will give a stream of light, which links you to the next useful contraption. Turning thousands of gears, switches, wheels and other exotic appliances opens passages and lets you progress through the game. The important thing is that you can now directly see what you have done. Don't think this substantially affected game difficulty - Nope, the game is still a brainteaser, but it is a bit more suitable for mortals who aren't MENSA members (hmm, I wonder if Asia Carrera likes Myst games).

The control is similar to the control in other Myst games, with one big difference - you can now turn full 360 degrees, which provides gorgeous atmosphere and lets you better enjoy the eye candy surroundings. The smart cursor will change shape (into a hand) when going over an interactive object. This makes the entire process of searching for clues a bit easier. I liked the idea of morphing one screen into the other while "moving" as it creates and impression of motion... well not like in FPS games, but certainly better than in Myst or Riven.

As I already mentioned, the in-game graphics are beautiful. The only thing that bugged me was the fact that I couldn't make it work in anything higher than 640x480 (the previews mentioned it would support anything up to 1600x1200). If it weren't for this, any of the screenshots could be used as a great wallpaper (if you're not one of those who prefer naked chicks on their Desktop). Each screen is highly detailed and the changes caused by your actions look very realistic and take place in real-time, so that everything runs smooth and looks great. I pointed this out, as you had to wait for some time to see the effects of your actions in previous Myst games. Some things like the sea, plants, and animals look dazzling. Developers did a great job upgrading the outdated Myst engine and making it use new technologies. All characters in the game are live actors. Myst III: Exile brings new visual elements to the modern adventure-gaming scene.

Sound was always an important factor in the Myst games. What's more, sound effects will frequently give you clues to solving certain puzzles. Various clicks and squeaks can prove to be very important, so you better listen carefully. Jack Wall, the composer, compiled the soundtrack combining his own experience with the music from Matrix, Fifth Element & Waterworld as well as the themes from Riven and Myst. This resulted in a great soundtrack full of epic themes that certainly improve the overall atmosphere.

The scenario is very good and has exciting and unexpected twists. Myst III: Exile is a quality product meant only for specific groups of gamers, but it will provide enjoyment to any player who would enjoy a peculiar adventure and some exercise for his little gray cells.

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ACTIONTRIP SCORE
8.7   Very Good


HIGHS
Myst in all senses of the word; well-balanced gameplay and great pre-rendered scenes;

LOWS
Low resolution, takes a lot of HDD space.

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