Review by Disco Joe

"I. Love. Myst."

I love the Myst series. I really do. No stress. No violence; just peaceful serenity. Myst 3: Exile is the third game in the popular Myst series.

The Myst story centers around a man named Atrus who, through a process called ''Writing'' (in special books) can create ''links'' to ''Ages'', worlds that seem to embrace the abstract. Ranging from giant tropical trees (that grow inward), to vast desert oasis’ that span for miles, these worlds are breathtaking, frightening, peaceful, and at the same time, somehow familiar, all at once. But the Ages featured in the games all share in common a single aspect: puzzles. Yep, what makes these games popular is not violence or gore, but the puzzles, scenery and music. You become so immersed in these worlds that you even think about them while not playing. You think about them while you sleep and while you eat. You think of them as real places.

Here’s a brief, spoiler free synopsis of the game’s story: Taking place about twenty years after the events in Riven, the game opens with you (the player, as yet unnamed), linking to Atrus' study in his new home on an Age called ''Tomahna'', a desert Age. One thing leads to another and you eventually find yourself on a mysterious island Age. From this point the story slowly unfolds in a very well written, acted, and suspenseful manner. It should be noted that there are some pretty stupid conundrums in the game’s ending that, while they don’t ruin the story by any means, are ridiculous nonetheless.

Story: 9/10

Steering away from the typical Myst formula, Myst 3 features the free look system, allowing the player to look around in 360 degrees. The method of movement is still point-and-click, however. The scenery, though not three dimensional, is nonetheless gorgeous. These are the best graphics seen in an adventure game to date.

Graphics 10/10

The music was composed and conducted by Myst newcomer, Jack Wall. He does a brilliant job of conveying the atmosphere and emotions these Ages can invoke. Classic stuff.

Music 10/10

The sound effects in the game are your typical Myst fare. Nothing special. Nothing bad. They do the job.

Sound Effects: 7/10

Ah, the puzzles. The puzzles in this game are probably the most balanced in the series in terms of difficulty. They’re not too easy. Nor are they a mind numbing, suicide inducing rage-athon, ala Riven. Keep in mind that there are some really hard ones as well as easy, but the balance is perfect. The puzzles in Riven tended to be too obscure and unrealistic. The puzzles found in Myst 3 are logical and fun to solve. I only wish there were more of them, as the game is not exactly long when compared to Riven.

Gameplay 8/10

Once beaten, the game basically has no replay value at all. Unless you’re a fan, that is. There are some funny Easter Eggs to be found, but that’s about it. I’ve played through six times so far, and for me, the game is still just as immersing as it was as it was during my first play through. But I’m a fan boy. Your typical player has no reason to play through more than once.

Replayability 4/10

So in closing, Myst offers fans a healthy portion of that point and click adventuring we’ve come to know and love. The graphics, sound, story and atmosphere all do they’re part to make this the best game in the series.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/25/02, Updated 10/27/02

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