Myst III: Exile
It'd be easy to insult Exile ejust because of its heritage, but like it or not there's a fair few people looking forward to this new edition. Nice then, that this game gives them reason to hate it as well. Y'see, eight years ago, Myst vanguarded the sombre age of tedious "atmospheric adventure games". Limited in interaction to rudimentary puzzles, its main, nay its sole draw was its luscious prerendered graphics. To make a game look beautiful, though, is easy. To actually have some kind of game underneath seems beyond most. And maybe all those years ago what was put out was adequate, but not now. To release what is essentially the first game with different graphics, not once but twice more is plain old inexcusable.
Again, we have the definition of style over substance. It's hard to deny that the hi-res scenery is among the most astounding in any game so far this year. Locations adopt an esoteric, other-worldly quality and the photo-realistic vistas really do bring a lump to the throat. Being able to move a full 360 degrees in all directions is some improvement (though not an innovation) but your hopes are soon dashed as you click forward and view slideshows as you move to your next location. This isn't just a minor discomfort, as even with freedom of movement in locations, it can often be hard to spot a path - especially in the botanical world where thick undergrowth obscures things.
Beauty And The Beast
Of course, it's this surface beauty that'll get trumpeted and that is going to be responsible for the majority of sales, but beneath this aesthetically pleasing veneer lurks something quite rotten. Most of the scenery is largely superfluous with limited hot points to interact with and it's a case of same game, same puzzles; pulling and prodding things in an effort to discover a pattern to unlock the next section. Since the puzzles are localised, there's no real wandering about but it's still difficult to know what you should be doing without randomly clicking on things. Even after I had solved something, I often wasn't sure why I'd done it. A few puzzles refer to reading through notes given to you at the start. Oh-so carelessly dropped diary pages can be picked up in the worlds, though these only contain additional plot points the developers couldn't be bothered portraying through action.
A Side Order Of Ham
Even the plot doesn't live up to its potential. The excitement of meeting somebody in the first room makes you eager for human contact but this is soon quashed as you become conveniently trapped on an uninhabited island. Your captor torments you a few times but there's absolutely no interaction with him, and you're basically on your own until the end. Which is probably just as well, as the acting can reach truly atrocious levels sometimes, in terms of bile-inducing pathos. Of course, there's nothing that seriously inhibits play - it's structurally sound in its own context and the day or so it takes to complete is driven by the incentive to experience the look of new locations. However, even fans have to ask themselves if buying exactly the same game with different graphics is a worthwhile purchase. I can understand why people like the sedate pace of the game but you might as well watch a video of the action while filling in a puzzle book. We should have moved on by now. Minor technological developments aside, this is a wasted opportunity to improve the series. They've tried their hardest, but it just goes to show you can't polish a turd.
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode
Myst III: Exile Screenshots
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