Myst IV: Revelation - game review

Date: 2004-12-15 09:41:00
The review was based on the PC version.

It has only been a few months since I emerged from the Rift and watched the desert turn green and Bahro return home. Now I could rest a bit ... I admit that I was then tired of hiking the Teledahn or the Kadish Tolesa and somehow I was in no hurry to go back there again. Yes, unable to resist, later I wandered to Relto a few more times, I also entered the Path of Shells, but I still had an overwhelming impression that soon I was going to have a much bigger and more beautiful journey, for which I should thoroughly prepare, gather all my strength. After all, URU was not the right, one and only Myst ... And it was to be expected any day. After all, three long years have passed since the last release, and the moment seemed close when the announcements of the next game in this wonderful series would appear. So far, the Miller brothers, or the companies they anointed, have treated adventure game lovers with the next part of the saga devoted to the history of the D'ni civilization every four years. It was supposed to be a bit different this time. It is difficult to say whether it was caused by the defeat of URU and the rapid departure from the idea of continuing work on the further development of this project, at least a year earlier than before, Ubisoft treated us with the fourth story about Atrus and his rebellious family. A wonderful, dazzling, even revolutionary adventure, but is it the best of all that have been published over the last eleven years? It is worth considering a bit longer ...

Initially, as soon as my journey through Serenia was over, I was going to get down to writing immediately, to share with others as soon as possible all the wonderful experiences I had just witnessed. However, after a long moment of reflection, I began to come to the conclusion that maybe it is worth cooling down a bit, rethinking some things again, thinking a little longer about everything that I had just experienced. In the case of adventure games, emotions are not a good advisor and often make us miss a few important elements. I put down the page, abandoned the pen, but in my mind I was still traveling through the virtual worlds created by Canadian masters of code, image and sound.

A few days passed until I finally decided that the time had come and I am ready to tell you about everything that awaits each of the daredevils who would like to plunge into this mysterious, full of riddles and dangers, and at the same time so captivating with its beauty, world. Are you prepared to go on this journey with me? A journey that leads through four, how different and different Ages, which requires focus and sensitivity in connecting threads and tracking the secrets that fill the next part of the Myst to the brim . Yes? So let's get started ...

It will be a story about crime and punishment, about madness and love, about sacrifice and revenge. Anyone who has had the opportunity to deal with the story told in any of the first three parts of the adventures of Atrus and his family will certainly admit that the story has always been a strong point of this series. It is no different this time. Especially since now we will be able to find answers to questions that were asked many years ago, when we first got to know the world of the D'ni civilization ...

We arrive at Tomahna, the new and so dazzling seat of the Atrus family, summoned by his dramatic letter. Once again our friend needs help and it is again about his family members. As we remember, in the first part of the saga, the two rebellious sons of Atrus, Sirrus and Achenar, made such a mess that their father lost all his patience and decided to imprison pesky youths, each in a separate Age. Has this solved all the problems? Not quite ... It turns out that even twenty years is not enough to extinguish all emotions, to abandon the desire for revenge ...

After our arrival in Tomahny, the youngest offspring of the Atrusa family, his daughter, Yeesha, comes to meet us. The girl has grown up since the last time we saw her and now she's a miss when she looks at her. After a crazy ride between the seaside rocks, we land on the platform, right next to Atrus' laboratory. Upon entering, we meet him in person and find out what kind of trouble this time prompted him to write a letter summoning him to come immediately. As if that was not enough, while we help Atrus in setting up a device that is mysterious in its operation, it explodes and ... trouble begins. Some time later, Yeesha disappears. Tomahna is now hidden in darkness, and our task is not only to find the girl, but also to discover the cause of the catastrophe that took place a moment ago, and to determine the perpetrators of all this confusion. We quickly conclude that the Yeeshy brothers, Sirrus and Achenar are behind this series of unfortunate events. So there is nothing left for us to do but find the way to their Prison Ages and face them there.

Won't you agree with me that the story, which is the hallmark of the entire series, draws us in immediately and completely absorbs us?

I personally did not wait a moment and immediately set about discovering the secrets and secrets of these worlds ... With bated breath I wandered the Age of Spire, gloomy, dark, full of soaring rocks reaching the clouds, the place where Sirrus had spent the last twenty years. Carefully and slowly I made my way through Haven, Achenara's prison world, covered in tropical jungle, inhabited by various strange, sometimes friendly, sometimes dangerous animals. With joy and pleasure, I admired the charms of Serenia, the land where Babysitters keep memories, the Age which is the gateway to the world of dreams and dreams. Each of these worlds is different, each one is wonderful, stunning with its beauty, tempting with mystery, dazzling with careful workmanship ...

From the outset, each part of the Myst franchise was a masterpiece in itself. And if not in terms of the plot, although you should probably look for one with a candle, who could stick to something here, then surely the graphic design was able to bring even the greatest malcontents to their knees each time. Wonderfully created worlds, wonderfully reproduced, refined even in the smallest detail, have become, on a par with the difficulty level of puzzles, a determinant of the entire series and an unattainable model for others. And while the technical limitations that forced the Miller brothers in 1993 to use a 256-color palette of colors were quite a serious obstacle, with time, thanks to the development of technology, these barriers disappeared and players were delighted with more and more beautiful landscapes. Already Riven , released on as many as five albums, amazed everyone that you can conjure up such wonders on the screen of the monitor. Exile only cemented the opinion that Myst is the most graphically polished adventure game series ever. But hardly anyone was prepared for what we were able to see in Part Four ...

The information that the latest work of the Canadian branch of Ubisoft will be released on two DVDs could shock some people. The question immediately arose: What is it that must be there that requires such an enormous amount of space to contain it all? 9 GB ?! It's crazy! Even the latest hits from recent weeks, boasting refinement and all the goodies that only some understand, did not require that much hard disk space. And here an ordinary, it would seem, adventure game ... However, to describe all the wonders that have been presented to us in different Ages, we would need a poet rather than an ordinary reviewer. Every detail, every texture, even the smallest element of the landscape or piece of equipment has been perfected down to the smallest detail.

The very beginning of the game, when Yeesha and I ride the overhead train between the illuminated rocks, is astonishing. The sun dazzles the eyes, a delicate mist rises above the foaming waterfall, and clouds majestically move across the blue of the sky. You look at Yeesha and you see how this little girl enjoys the funicular ride, even though the height at which the car is suspended is breathtaking. And when you get to Tomahn ... The beauty of this place, with its little houses hugging the rocks, can make us never want to leave again. Now let's take a look at the Spire, the Age of Sirrus, dark as his soul. The sharp peaks of the peaks seem to tear the clouds apart, the darkness illuminated by crystal fragments reveals some meager remains of once magnificent buildings, the black surface of the rocks seems to be covered with moisture and ... hatred. It is hardly surprising that for someone who has spent twenty years in this world, it was not easy to give up the desire to take revenge on the perpetrator of his imprisonment. Now let's look into Haven, Achenar's world, so different from the one in which his brother was imprisoned. Here the sun is shining, birds fly, crabs roam on the seaside sand, and the huge plants overgrown with the jungle are a perfect hiding place for animals. But it would be wrong to consider this place a vestibule of paradise. There is a life and death struggle in this world, and sometimes it is not known who is the hunter and who is the victim. Serenia, on the other hand, is quiet. It is a world of silence, order and harmony. This is where the Babysitters rule, store memories and hand over the keys to the world of dreams, water sprites or wisps appear between the rocks, and delicate pollen of flowers float in the air. And all this in the highest resolutions ...

Yes it's true. This time no one will accuse the authors that nowadays the 640x480 resolution is an anachronism and the world created with its use is striking with pixels. Now, if of course you have the right hardware, dear player, you can set the resolution to whatever you like. It's just that remember: the requirements described in the manual, i.e. Pentium III 700, 256 RAM or 32 MB graphics card, are in fact an absolute minimum, which will not allow you to enjoy the game. Especially when it comes to memory, the program is extremely demanding and 512 RAM is such a reasonable minimum limit. These requirements are also related to one of the few flaws, namely when collecting photos and accumulating the number of saved places, their reloading takes far too much time. It was supposed to be fixed with the release of the first patch for the game, but it probably didn't quite work out. So it's good to have more memory and a more powerful graphics card, and in return we get a picture that will not be forgotten for a long time. To marvel at the wonderful work done by the artists and programmers, I would be ungrateful to ignore the actors who starred in the game.

Although most of them are not known from cinema screens, Mr. Miller and the company deserve the highest praise for their contribution to this endeavor. Without their participation, I cannot imagine that it would be possible to create such a wonderful atmosphere that prevails during the journey around all worlds. Yeesha's girlish charm and initial carelessness, hatred emanating from every sentence uttered by Sirrus, Achenar's dilemma and despair, Atrus' anxiety, Anya's concern. Big applause, ladies and gentlemen, very big applause ... When I admire the performance of the actors from Myst and compare it with what they presented, especially in the first part, amateurs from Schism ... No, I am not allowed to use such words here ... .

Even if I wrote a few thousand words about the graphic design of the fourth part of Myst , I still cannot convey all the beauty that has been hidden on these two small discs. You just have to see it for yourself ...

The music and sound setting of Myst IV: Revelation was talked about long before the first note appeared on the web. From the very beginning, it was known that Jack Wall is a master of the masters in his profession and this element of the game will be refined to the smallest detail. Also the information that the fantastic Peter Gabriel will sing the song again, which will be placed in the game, aroused the appetite not only of adventure game lovers, but also of fans of the talent of this former member of the Genesis group. Polish fans were electrified by the news that the game was to feature a composition sung in our native language by one of the folk bands. Have all these plans been achieved? Yes of course...

First of all, the recordings prepared by Jack Wall are really amazing. Their atmosphere and sound simply delight. Perfectly composed, with the use of huge instruments, embellished with wonderful choral parts, make you want to listen to them. I often left the game in the title menu just to listen to the music that accompanies us there. The timbre of the sounds has been perfectly refined, their variability depending on the place and events taking place on the screen. Sometimes the music tempted and pushed us into the unknown, at other times it warned against danger, enchanted and captivated with every note. A real pearl among music tracks, and not only in games ...

Who is Peter Gabriel and what kind of music he creates, I don't think anyone needs explaining. Personally, as a devoted fan of this artist, I accept without a shadow of a doubt every composition that comes out of his studio. But that it will appear in the game? I never would have guessed. And that's what happened in URU, where he delighted us with the song that came from Jeff Zandi's radio. But that was just a prelude to what we are hearing in Revelation . Without giving too much away from the plot, let me just say that the song called Curtains comes at such a wonderful moment that ...

For those few minutes I was sitting with my mouth open and listening to these wonderful sounds, I admired the images that appeared on the screen ... I was just dazzled ... Jacek Wall's composition, sung in Polish by the Warsaw Village Band, is a form of award for solving a rather difficult puzzle and he appears during his journey through the Age of Haven. It is as beautiful as other recordings in the game, although it kudy it there to Peter's song ... Anyway, it was made available on the Internet, so everyone can listen to it.

Melting in delight over the music track, I cannot, of course, forget about the sound effects. Also in this element, the game has been refined in every respect. Starting with such trifles as the howling of the wind in the rock crevices, the crunch of sand under the feet, the creaking of the elevator descending, the rustle of trees, the sounds of falling stones, and ending with various sounds made by animals and mechanical devices. You can perfectly hear how the sounds of footsteps change depending on the surface on which we walk, how the sounds are modulated and their sound transforms when we enter the room from the open space, how the voices of the actors reflect on the ceiling or are disturbed by the splash of sea waves or the singing of birds.

Of course, what's to hide here, to be able to enjoy all these wonders, you need an appropriate, solid-quality audio system. But believe me, when this delightful sound surrounds you, when you are absorbed by the music, you will plunge into a different, better world ...

The whole series, from its very beginning, has always been a determinant of the difficulty level of puzzles and their logical location in individual games. No one could ever accuse the authors of Myst that at some point the cause-and-effect chain was broken, and the appearance of a puzzle was pointless. Also their difficulty, although they sometimes caused crying and gnashing of teeth, meant that the player who managed to overcome all obstacles after spending a few hours with a piece of paper and a pencil, felt great satisfaction and contentment with his own effort. Only URU was slightly different from that, but as I mentioned it is not the correct part of the series and it was prepared for sometimes random users of the Internet. Part four is back on top again.

The puzzles are difficult and this will surely please all fans of the series. Especially those waiting for us in the Spire, they can sometimes make it a couple of hours when we do not know when it will disappear from our biography, when we pore over setting sliders, connecting strings, remembering patterns. Also in Haven, where we will face puzzles that require good hearing and a great deal of patience, there are a few places that force us to make an intellectual effort.

I do not intend to reveal all the puzzles that appear in the game, because it would be a completely barbaric action on my part, but it is impossible not to mention a certain element that surprised me in minus. What I mean by this is that some puzzles have to be done ... in a lot of rush. Exactly.

I admit that when I had to hurry with setting the sliders, before certain devices stopped working, I started to get pissed off healthily during one of the attempts. I am close to shutting down the game, I finally managed to complete this task, but what I thought about the authors, it cannot be repeated. The same applies to a certain sound puzzle involving the spinning of circles that emit a specific signal. Again, towards the end, you had to hurry to get it right. And walking with an air bubble in my hand so that it would not fall down seemed to me nothing more than an artificial and unnecessary extension of the time spent playing. The remaining puzzles force us to make a considerable intellectual effort and without a sheet of paper and a pencil, no move. Always remember to read all, even the smallest scraps of paper, because there can be hints, descriptions and diagrams everywhere. It is also worth skilfully using the camera at our disposal, which allows us to collect, more importantly, pictures, on which we record everything that may come in handy later. In order to make it easier for beginners, the game uses a three-stage hint system, leading, if we choose to, to solve the puzzle with minimal effort on the part of the player. However, I think that a true lover of the series will not have to reach for these measures ... We have not dealt with such charades, puzzles and rebuses already, have we?

I mentioned using the hand, so let's say a few words about steering. Of course, the fact that in the game we see the world through the eyes of the protagonist and move around it by scrolling the screens, it probably will not seem strange to anyone. We can look around in every direction, and the performance of individual activities is enabled by the indicator on the screen, presented in the form of a hand. Depending on what action we want to perform, it changes its shape, arrangement and positioning of the fingers. Using the camera, flipping the pages of a book, turning the wheels and many, many other activities can be done in this way. I must admit that it is very convenient and we quickly get used to such control. In general, the game interface has been simplified to an absolute minimum. A camera with an associated diary in which we can note down more important information, Yeeshy's amulet, which, when used in the right place, will show us the hidden pictures of events that took place earlier and a compass icon under which there is a function of quickly moving from the place to a place within a given Age, without having to travel sometimes quite long distances. And that's all. Only this and as much as it is enough.

Time to summarize this perhaps a bit lengthy argument. Myst IV: Revelation is a great game. Actually, I could end my statement on this, because you have all the reasons above. But let's add a few more words to the end.

Sensational, dazzling ... and whoever wants to, can add an adjective to describe this unique beauty of the graphic design. For a long time it will be an unattainable level for others, especially among adventure games. Let's add a fantastic music track with a wonderful song by Peter Gabriel, great sound effects, a very simplified and therefore extremely comfortable interface and level-keeping puzzles, and we'll get what? The game-ideal ...

And the few little things I mentioned above, like puzzles that are solved in a certain rush? I think that they are not able to obscure the fact that here is a game on our home market that will immediately enter the canon of adventure games and will be a real gem among other items. For every fan of this genre, Myst IV: Revelation is a must-have and is worth every penny spent on its purchase.

Just one pity. Namely, that we will probably have to wait another three or even four years for the next part of the D'ni saga, about these great Writers of the Ages.

But I think that I will visit Atrus more than once, I will visit Tomahna at his doorstep again ... After all, a long-term friendship obliges ...

Bolesław "Void" Wójtowicz

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