Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Ending Has Not Yet Been Written (Myst IV)

Contains Light Spoilers and One About The Game's Outcome

I finally did that stupid Mangree puzzle. Mothermachine on the Uru Obsession forum said that half a turn would equate to a short tone and two whole turns would do for a long tone, and that worked perfectly for me.

I don't know who on the development team thought that puzzle was a good idea, but somebody needs a good slap. Surly they did play-testing and realised that it was an infuriatingly difficult puzzle without help. I stopped playing for a week because of it, and there are others who have stopped plying completely.

Up until the power puzzle in Spire I was really enjoying the game because the production value is just so high, but that power puzzle was irritating because I couldn't find all the pieces of paper to findout what tones to play that break the lock. Then the whole Mangree crap and then that whole Peter Gabriel sequence that feels like it belongs in some other game. Although the Dream World puzzle after that is perfect because it is confined and you actually learn the nature of the puzzle and solve it simply by playing (that's how puzzle games should be). You certainly get a sense that this one was not made by Cyan.

The ending feels wrong.
I still don't understand the Riven ending, but the Revelation ending feels wrong very wrong. The two brothers are like ghosts of the Myst series, they are a huge part of the story that is never seen or told, but in Revelation they appear and then the developers wipe them from Myst forever. Which is a huge shame because there is two ages specifically there for building character depth, and then that all disappears without the gamer identifying with the characters, caring about them or even having their knowledge of the characters played upon by the story. Or even questioned by events.

The game brings back the brothers, gives them depth and fills in some plot-holes. And although anybody that played the original Myst will remember Achenar's torture room, I think his performance in Revelation was underplayed because in the original Myst that guy was twisted. They both where, but in Revelation they just feel like devious individuals, not masacistic murderers who like to watch their victims bleed, and burn whole villages filled with people to the ground. I mean Exile was about the hate of just one of their victims. He wanted to torture Atrus for eternity for what his sons did to him.

Catherin isn't in it almost at all, and the ending is too clean. I would rather Sirru's body be found missing and Achenar go on a pilgrimage to find a cure for the illness brought on by the gas, but no. They both die and so I feel cheated that none of what I learned about the characters was put to any use. No they just die, Yeesha says nothing and then Atrus says "thanks again old friend, fancy a pint down the pub!" And it feels wrong. Especially since he has lost two sons. Maybe it's his was of dealing with the pain, but like I keep saying, it feels wrong.

Anyway the game is good apart from one or two puzzles that are real show stoppers and you don't get rewarded for age completions like we are used to, but the game should really come with a big sticker on the front telling you to play Myst or Real Myst first because it will add to the enjoyment of the game so much.

3/5 One point deducted because of puzzles and another because of story. Otherwise and easy 5/5.