When Myst debuted in 1993, it heralded a revolution in gaming. A point-&-click fairytale adventure, it plunged the player into a photo-realistic fantasy-world, rich with puzzles, interactive scenery, and a gripping story. It cast you as a refugee, adrift in a variety of lands, each linked together by a series of books. The goal was to discover each of these books, travel their respective worlds, and pick up clues that unravelled the story. In essence, it was beautiful, sedately paced, intelligent and, until Maxis’ The Sims overtook it this year, the world’s best-selling computer game.
How times have changed. Nearly a decade on, gaming technology has erupted into real-time 3D worlds, 3D shoot ’em ups, and interactive games – on a truly epic scale. The original is now just a curiosity.
Enter, then, RealMyst – or Myst for the 21st Century. The entire game has been given a real-time, 3D facelift, changing the flick-book interface into a living, breathing, real-time world where players can wander around the landscape at will.
The result is dramatic. Every graphic element has been updated from 8-bit to 32-bit colour; movies have been expanded to cinematic size; and the haunting soundtrack has been re-mastered. Players can explore the worlds with 360 degrees of freedom, and new 3D effects include real-time weather (it rains), dynamic lighting, and transitions from day to night.
It’s just a shame that it didn’t ship with rose-tinted specs, as well. Because the game is essentially the same – and the Myst locations are shockingly small in light of today’s games – you could fly through RealMyst extremely quickly. The puzzles are twee, the story dull, and the enjoyment factor seems to have been lost in the rush for technical advancement.
What makes it more disastrous is that technically, the real-time 3D is abysmal. It positively limps along on a fast G4 with a 32MB graphics card – to the extent that it’s practically unplayable, even with all the settings turned right down. Choppy, limited gameplay is the order of the day with RealMyst.
This is a tragic rendition of a classic game, and one for die-hard fans only. Even the addition of the Rime Age world doesn’t make up for this poor version. RealMyst? More like real missed.