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Publisher: Ubisoft    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G4 @ 933 MHz    RAM: 128 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Myst IV Revelation
October 28, 2004 | Michael Phillips

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Way back when on my Power Mac 7200, Myst was IT. There was no other adventure game like Myst, with such surreal imagery, mind bending puzzles and a mysterious (pun SO intended) storyline. It literally set the standard for an entire genre, a standard which a scant few games have ever met. Myst is the kind of game that makes one want to toss their mouse across the room AND play for 12 hours solid, even if it means nearly being hospitalized on one’s birthday due to low blood-sugar and dehydration. Not that I’ve ever done anything like that, I’m just sayin’…

There have been three Myst titles since the original (no, Uru doesn’t count), now it falls on the folks at Ubisoft to bring us the fourth title in this series, Myst IV: Revelation. Whenever I see the Roman numeral, “IV”, next to a game or movie, I grow leery. Not EVERYTIME, but quite usually, by the time a game reaches “IV” it tends to be tired and generally sucktastic. Is such the case with this latest incarnation of Myst? Is it time for Atrus to hang up his quill and dispose of his inks in an environmentally sound manner? Just like in any previous Myst title, this review begins with more questions than answers, so journey onward and discover the secrets behind Myst IV: Revelation.

Gameplay: Are You Still Mad?
Myst IV: Revelation takes place roughly ten years after the events depicted in Myst III: Exile, but one need not have played any previous Myst title to appreciate Revelation, though prior experience makes for a richer odyssey. In Revelation, the player is once again called upon by Atrus, the man who can create entire worlds simply by writing in a book. However, these worlds, or Ages are often more trouble than they’re worth. In the original Myst, the player learned of Atrus and his two treacherous sons, Sirrus and Achenar. Sirrus and Achenar traveled from Age to Age stealing what they could and burning the rest. Then they picked up the wrong books. In order to visit an Age, one simply has to touch the Linking Panel within each book. To protect his library on Myst Island, Atrus placed two prison Ages among the rest of his books in order to trap unwary thieves within. Atrus never imagined imprisoning his own sons. Would such punishment make them see the error in their ways? Could they forgive their father for leaving them in solitude for so long? Time will tell…

Now, Atrus, urged by his wife Catherine and young daughter Yeesha, wants to Link again to his sons’ Ages and perhaps make amends and maybe even own up to whatever role he may have played in their downward spiral toward corruption and greed. Of course, shortly after visiting Atrus, the player is confronted with a massive power outage caused by one of Atrus’ machines malfunctioning, after which things grow progressively worse. It wouldn’t be Myst if things didn’t grow progressively worse.

Myst IV: Revelation features four Ages: Tomahna, Spire, Haven and Serenia. Tomahna is home to Atrus and his family and the setting for Revelation’s opening curtain. After the power failure, Atrus departs for another Age to pick up replacement parts for his faulty invention, leaving the player to restore power and keep an eye on Yeesha. Thus the stage is set for the player to explore the intriguing world of Myst IV.

I’ve played every Myst game (save for Uru, as it doesn’t count), but Revelation “feels” most like the original by far. There’s a palpable sense of family secrecy and that no one is being completely honest. The puzzles also make sense in that each is set by one character or another with a certain purpose in mind, so the Ages feel very real. For instance, Yeesha’s bookshelf is protected by a lock, the combination of which is quite obvious after one considers Yeesha’s motivation as a character. In both prison Ages, Sirrus and Achenar spent their days bent on survival and escape, therefore each puzzle reflects such goals. Myst IV’s puzzles, while challenging, are not stupidly hard to understand. There were times in Riven and Myst III: Exile when certain puzzles literally made me think, “how in the Hell was I supposed to know THAT?!”, but such is not the case in Revelation. In Revelation, one may not immediately have the answer, but at least they understand the question. There are three puzzles that are EXTREMELY vexing mechanically, as they involve proper timing and melodic notes, but they are by no means a deal breaker when one considers the rest of the game.


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