Review by ND9k
"Great graphics, good story, bad execution..."
When Myst was released on the PC back in 1993, it did three significant things for the gaming industry. It popularized the CD-ROM as a means of multimedia. It demonstrated photorealistic, advanced graphics that far surpassed anything else seen on the PC, and it also popularized the "point-and-click" adventure gameplay that was Myst. What seemed more like a tech demo that anything else went on to become one of the best selling video games of all time, as well as one of the most heralded games of its time.
Myst was followed up with Riven, and that sequel was followed up with another, Myst III: Exile. The third game in the series continues the story of Atrus and his Ages. And true to the series, Myst III continues to demonstrate incredible, photorealistic graphics that look good even by 2008's standards.
Myst III is a little different from the first two games. While it's still largely a point-and-click adventure, it introduces the concept of free roaming. In Myst, you could move only in tiles, in any one of the four cardinal directions. But in Myst III, you are fre to go anywhere and largely do anything. The concept of non-linearity and discovering things on your own is well preserved in Myst III. The game also introduces more characters than in the first two games, and for the first time, we really get a cohesive story, incovlving a prisoner who has escaped from one of Atrus's ages and taken exile in another. Your objective is to find this man.
With the concept of free roaming, Myst III also introduces a much more ambient feel to the game. For the first time ever, there is subtle background music, in addition to sound effects, such as howling wind. The game retains the mysterious aura of the first two games, and still evokes a sense of "where do I go next?"
The puzzles of Myst III are as sharp as ever, and are well varied, from controlling odd machines to scaling cliffs. The games also feature much more decision making than before. The player is faced with several situations that have no right or wrong answer. Rather, the player makes a decision and then sees how that decision affects the overworld. This was a good move on the developer's part, as it introduces replay value into Myst III, something I feel that the series as a whole has lacked.
The main problem with the game is the same problem I've had with the first two Myst games: it has the tendency to be difficult, in a frustrating way. While there are more characters in terms of storyline, you are still largely alone, and are rarely given hints as to where to go or what to do. This is great as it makes the game extremely open, but it also increases frustration when players get stuck, particularly those players who are not used to the type of adventure games that the Myst series is. Myst III will likely become a game that quite a few people will own, but either never play or never complete. While the replay value is better in this game than the first two, it's really something that will only appeal to the true fans of the series. Take note, Myst III: Exile is not at all a bad game. I'd recommend it for the adventure genre fans. But be ready for a game that is extremely fluid and rather challenging. And don't be surprised if you find yourself getting frustrated to the point of not having any fun.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 10/29/02, Updated 12/23/08
Game Release: Myst III: Exile (US, 05/08/01)
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