After its release last September on PC, Myst IV: Revelation has been
prepped for a release on the Xbox. That version is out and it is interesting to
see how it both translated pretty well to the Xbox and how much you’ll wish you
would have picked up the vastly superior version on the PC.
Myst IV: Revelation is the penultimate chapter in the Myst saga
with the final game, Myst V: End of Ages, coming out later this year.
Myst IV brings us back to the tried and true Myst gameplay after
the 3rd person viewpoint of Uru: Ages Beyond Myst.
Another major minus in the graphics section when comparing it to the PC version is that the Xbox version doesn’t have the cool option to see stuff straight ahead as nice and sharp while the periphery looks a bit fuzzy. Also the loading times can be excruciating for this game, I don’t remember having such bad loading times on the PC version.
Having played the PC game when it came out, I have to say that the Xbox visuals pale in comparison, but still do a serviceable job. Without the high resolution capabilities of the PC version, the Xbox can only reach the 480p plateau on Myst IV. With the 480p the graphics are slightly sharper and it is easier to see things you can manipulate on the screen than with a lower video option. You might often find yourself looking around for some small thing to continue your journey only to pass it by onto the next node of play.
Much like Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, when comparing the Xbox/PC version versus the PS2/GameCube version it is hard for this release to come close to the best possible version (in this case being the PC version). The colors are not as vibrant here as they are on the PC version; in fact they almost seem washed out and soft. To be honest, the Myst series is built upon its photorealistic beauty with a huge array of colors and hues at its disposal. This is not to say the Xbox version isn’t good looking, it just can’t hold a candle to the PC version.
When talking about Myst games, music is mostly an added present to you. The music that is found in Myst IV fits the area you are in very well. It also blends into the game very well. The Myst series has always been built around the sounds encompassing the player and Myst IV: Revelation is no different. As much as the beauty of the node you are in is, the sound encompassing you is also important. Full-motion video makes a triumphant return in Myst IV and it is integrated quite nicely into the game, even more smoothly than in the PC version. Along with these videos are the voiceovers, which are well done.
In many ways the sound goes hand-in-hand with the graphics in a Myst game. This is what makes these games an enjoyable experience for me and something I always look forward to when they are announced.
This is where most of the PC to console ports fall flat, and Myst IV on Xbox is no different. Without the use of a mouse, you have to rely on the left thumbstick to move around from node to node and look around. The motion of doing this is awfully slow on the up/down axis, but you can pick up the speed on the left/right axis.
Along with those problems comes the fact that it is tough to pinpoint where things are in the node you are currently in. You don’t have the free-roaming capability of the mouse like you do on the PC version, so this makes the control a little unwieldy.
The control system doesn’t help the Xbox much when I compare it to the superior PC version, but Myst IV is still a wonderful game; possibly the best game in the Myst series so far. Once again you find yourself playing the role of Atrus’ unnamed friend. Atrus is the person that writes the “ages” that you travel to. Once again his sons, Sirrus and Achenar, are at the center of Atrus’ mind even though they’ve tried to screw him in the past (Myst anyone?). Catherine, Atrus’ wife, thinks it is time to release them from the prisons they are contained in.
Myst IV: Revelation takes place in 4 Ages: Tomahna, where Atrus and his family (minus Sirrus and Achenar) reside; Spire, a world of storms and gloominess (where one of the sons is imprisoned); Haven, a land filled with creatures that seem to be from a prehistoric age (where the other son is imprisoned); and Serenia, an age that seems a lot like Atlantis. Tomahna has been seen before in the series since that is where Atrus and his family reside. Spire certainly has some of the best looking nodes in the game with clouds moving and storms pounding it.
The puzzles contained in Myst IV are very difficult, probably moreso than the Myst games that have come before it. The beauty is that Myst IV certainly harkens back to the original game in how the gameplay is presented. You only have one inventory item that you pick up along the way: an amulet that allows you to see or hear things that have happened before in the location you are currently in. The amulet will glow and chime when it can reveal something from the past to you. The most interesting thing about the amulet histories is that they help to do puzzles that happen along the way. The fact is that the puzzles can take quite a leap in logic, but Ubisoft Montreal has been nice enough to give you a Help map that will solve the puzzle for you should you feel burdened by trying to figure it out. Once you see the puzzle solved and how they did it, the leap of logic doesn’t seem like so much of a leap anymore.
Another helpful item that you have with you is your camera. You can use it at any time to take a snapshot. Generally you will want to use the camera to take pictures of signs and markings in the Ages. The reason for this is that they can help in solving a puzzle down the road. Unlike the PC version, you only are able to take 25 pictures in the Xbox version. Along with this helpful item you can also do a sort of “zip mode” that will allow you to quickly go from place to place instead of having to manually go back. You can’t zip between Ages or places you haven’t yet visited, but it does allow you to zip to a puzzle location so that a marking you just found can be used to finish the puzzle.
Myst IV: Revelation is not the easiest game around. The puzzles will keep you busy for a long time and this game is rather large, but the fact is the Myst games have always been rather long. The funny thing about the Myst series is that many people who don’t play games very much gravitate towards the series. I know I’m not very good at puzzle games, but I do have someone around me that just loves them. Myst isn’t for everyone, but chances are there is someone in your life that would like them.
As I said above, Myst IV: Revelation is a pretty long game, but it can also be a pretty frustrating game. It was nice of Ubisoft Montreal to include the Help map so that puzzles can be solved if you get too frustrated about the logic of such puzzles. The story will keep you occupied and the FMV sequences are done seamlessly with the node area you are in. It takes a different kind of game player to be able to invest the time it takes to beat a Myst game, it’s an adventure game like no other.