|August 28th, 2010, 16:18||#1|
It's needle time
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: wonderous wonderful world of whismical willy
[PC] Myst - The game no one cares about anymore
I hope you don't mind, but I won't be using the review template for being too limited, nor will I give a score because objectifying an opinion is something I can't do!
Myst, for those who weren't born at the right time (i.e. pre 1990s) or have been living under a rock for the past fifteen years is a set of graphic adventure games numbered from I to V, the first being adequately named Myst and the point of this review. The game was originally made for the PC receiving numerous praise for the numerous innovations it brought. It was later remastered for the PC, changing its name to realMyst because it featured real time graphics (more on that later). It was also ported to the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP with less than fantastic reviews (more on that later as well).
The game was originally released in 1993 by the now deceased BrÝderbund and it was the fruit of brothers Rand and Robin Miller (founders of Cyan Worlds) idea brainstorm. It quickly fell in the point and click adventure game category because that's what it was (1). Myst, however worked differently from most point and click titles preceding it. Being released on a CD-Rom, it was one of the first games to actually do so, it was a catalyst in the popularity of this format. This allowed a great expansion of the point and click genre, via severe graphical improvement and a keener interaction with the environment. Instead of solving puzzles with objects, you simply had to watch your surroundings and look for different puzzles of various difficulties to achieve a required goal.
The story begins when you, the faceless, genderless, voiceless, emotionless Stranger fall in a chasm and emerge in what seems to be an island. You aren't forced to do anything, you simply follow various clues you discover, which you may ignore or not, leading to one of four endings (only one being actually good). The island is mainly the hub world which gives access to four other worlds called Ages connected with books where you must also explore and decide what needs to be done (I won't say what because it would ruin the experience for new players). To access these you'll need to go through a lot of puzzles.
If you take the time to inform yourself in the game's library, you will soon discover these ages are now uninhabited, but they actually used to have a history of their own. This often proved essential in getting out of those specific ages because you were pretty much stuck there until you found out how. This will then become the base of the following Myst games, for each sequel has a story that connects with the other games. The Myst universe actually includes various novels and an upcoming movie as well, each exploring this universe. One of the things that makes this game so special is the amount of detail given to every Age, something never seen in other games before it.
As stated above, the CD-Rom format allowed a massive unprecedented graphical improvement. Although it may not look like much now, the game WAS designed in 1993 and featuring such 3D graphics even if they were all pre-rendered slide shows was quite the feature. Every character in the game was actually portrayed by a live actor, adding a more human touch to then. This feature was present in the following Myst game until V. This drove a dagger through my broken heart... Marching on! As stated before, every image in the game is static (save the actors and some fmvs). By clicking on the screen you move from one slide to another, which may feel clunky at times, but it actually makes it easier for newer players because there's less to look at, and thus you know that if there's a puzzle on your screen it's right in front of you! Speaking of which, most of these were generally justified. They are usually related with the actions of other characters, or the age's history and current deterioration. None of them are random and they all have a simple solution if you pay attention to EVERYTHING and explore EVERYTHING including sounds. There are no puzzles that require luck solutions, which is something other point and click games should learn (I'm looking at you Syberia!). However, the game pulls a dick move once where to get out of an Age you need to cross a maze whose exit direction is pointed out by sounds. However, the direction the sound points to is only revealed in another age. Without previous knowledge by visiting the other age and actually remembering that and due to the game's completely non-linear gameplay you were usually forced to actually DRAW a map of the maze and eventually find the exit. This however was a one-time situation.
The game also features a characteristic that no other before it had: Atmosphere. The lushing various backgrounds would vary from tree-hugging green to a complete wasteland, passing through a lot of scary dark rooms even though the whole world is empty now. This was accompanied by a soundtrack composed by Robin Miller (one of the developers) using nothing but synthesizers. For an amateur, these soundscapes were actually very lushing and completely fit the surroundings. I can still feel the awe brought to me by The Shipgate's theme which gave you access to the Stoneship Age. The sound effects following the game not only give important clues, as stated before, though not reduced to that situation, they also add to the game's feel. The dark story, the emptiness of the world and the eerie sounds that accompany you all contribute to a unique experience present in its sequels as well.
Despite all its upsides, the game has a fatal flaw. Being a puzzle game, it lacks any replay value. You will get the same experience by playing it a second time as there is actually nothing new to explore. Myst (and its sequels) should only be replayed years after playing it as you will probably have forgotten what must be done, so the puzzle challenge might reappear. This game in specific can be beat without visiting any of the Ages in a matter of minutes if you know what to do. Doing this in your first playthrough without
visiting them is VERY unlikely unless you use a guide (SHAME ON YOU).
During the course of time, the game was remastered as realMyst, which was the same game, but with an even bigger graphical improvement and free movement, meaning no more slideshows. However this usually ran very slow on the PCs at the time (2000) and due to the decline of adventure game genre's popularity the reviews were less than positive. This is probably also the reason why the handheld ports weren't favorably received as well. Because of this I might be able to say that, despite the excellent experience it brought me and no matter how many times I've played it, the game hasn't aged well. In today's Ritalin treated gamer, there is little place for point and clicks, though excellent titles till appear. Suggestions include Machinarium, The Longest Journey, Syberia, among others. All the innovations this game has brought were overshadowed years later by other releases, more modern-looking. The game is actually easy compared to its sequels and other titles... However, please bear in mind this was released in 1994 and due to the sheer amount of innovation it came with, it should be considered one of the great markings in computer gaming development. Like I said in a post about ICO, if gaming is ever to be considered a work of art, I will gladly hang my copy on a wall of bricks made by the cess pool that is today's most gaming industry.
Allow me to introduce a rant. Today's gaming has stagnated and real gems only appear every now and then. No matter how good a gameplay or story the game has, please ask yourself if it actually brings anything new. I'm not asking for a breakthrough release in each title. I just wanted gaming companies to allow more originality in their titles.
(1)The genre was quite popular during the last decade mostly due to the work of Lucas Arts and such titles like Secret of Monkey Island or Day of the Tentacle. For those unfamiliar with the genre these games are in their essence of the exploratory persuasion, involving puzzle solving by using items on certain objects or even combining them. Depending on how wicked the minds of the developing team were these could be game smashing frustration.
The first image of the game when you drop on the island
The exact same scene on realMyst. Notice how the door on the left became less noticeable. This was an issue in realMyst.
Picture from on of the ages. Notice the high level of detail for a 17 year old game.
IMPORTANT: Someone please remove the stupid apostrophe I put in the title. I'm ashamed of it ; (
Last edited by Milanů; August 29th, 2010 at 15:54..