Getting lost on that island again without a compass, GPS or clue.
realMyst is the same adventure again, but set in an almost free FPS world. Myst has always been known for the fantastic graphics, and now you get to move around in the rooms, on the islands and in the caverns freely. This has a lot of impact on the experience, more than I actually thought it would. And sadly not all is better in a new perspective.
The good about a free world is that the immersion might be even more total than the original frame-by-frame game. Walking by a grave watching some sad flowers moving in the wind has a true emotional impact. The gameplay itself moves away from being strictly about solving a number of puzzles, and instead it gets an explorative notion. It is easy to make the game into an experience instead just walking about looking at the sights trying to find more information about this dreamy place.
The bad is the fact that the game feels less focused when I get to wander about on my own. The original still frames had a lot of impact on how the puzzles were supposed to be solved. You got clues from how a puzzle was presented. Now it is much harder to understand the puzzles, both how to solve and what needs to be solved at all. I much prefer to think of a puzzle, as an isolated task to be managed. Just like getting things done, and other methods a task has to be easy to identify. Walking about in realMyst I found myself dabbling into a lot of the puzzles without focus, and soon I didn’t really understand what the heck I was supposed to do. Sure I enjoyed the scenery, and ambience while walking about pulling levers, hitting switches and moving objects. But I didn’t really feel any sense of progression. Much like someone with Alzheimer’s trying to understand the daily routine I found myself aimlessly wandering the island.
The controls are quite easy to get into with a single finger on the screen to move forward. Just sliding around the screen allows simple turning when in motion. To back up you add another finger to the mix, and hey presto moonwalking. The character feels ethereal with a slightly slowed down floaty movement. Obstacles are real though, and at times hard to get what will block my momentum. The game never demands speed, and seldom demands accuracy and thus the controls are quite ok.
Something that isn’t good is the resolution, and clarity of fonts used in the various books, texts and menus found in the game. Even on my spanking new retina screen the texts look like crap, and I rather not read anything. Thankfully I have played the original Myst, and remember quite a lot of the books. If you are a newcomer to Myst this is not a good place to start. Not being able to read any of the material that gives the player the story, and clues is simply bad. The video sequences are shown in a small box in the middle of the screen. To put it mildly it is underwhelming watching the bad acting in such a poor way. In Myst that I reviewed on an iPhone the videos at least felt cheesy.
Technically the game has some issues. For one the game chugs about not updating smoothly when panning the scenery. This actually makes me nauseous, and I can feel myself getting dizzy if I pan around too much. Another issue is the loading times, especially when starting the game from scratch. Entering new areas also brings on some loading times. I do understand that it takes some horsepower to run the massive world, but considering that realMyst is for the iPad 2, and New iPad only I thought it would be optimized using the available power. The lack of retina resolution is another reason I think the game could do with some more time to be refined.
Something that I find really nice is that there is no HUD at all. Sure there wasn’t any for the original either, but there could have been one for this FPS version. Instead there is a menu found at the lower centre of the screen looking like a larger version of the notification bar. Once opened the menu is oversized, and doesn’t look that hot.
realMyst will probably have a strong following with Myst fans who know most puzzles by heart. Not having to rely too much on the written material they can focus on the experience. Ethereally moving around the classic scenery can be a great way to spend a couple of hours. I rather solve the puzzles, and if I hadn’t already played the original I would have a much harder time than I have. Now I remember how the puzzles were presented in the original, and that certainly helps a lot. For newcomers who want to experience Myst I think the original is a better place to start.
realMyst $6.99 Launch sale. iPad 2/New iPad only.
Seller: Cyan Worlds, Inc.