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RealMyst: Masterpiece Edition review: The same Myst you know and love, but prettier

Hayden Dingman | March 24, 2014
Meet the new Myst, a lot like the old Myst, but with vastly improved graphics. Does the classic stand up to the test of time?

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The sun is setting on Myst Island. It dips towards the ocean, which stretches boundless in every direction. From where I stand, the last pale orange rays stretch across the sky, scrabbling for purchase between a few thinning trees. The clock tower, the electrical station, the library, the rocket—all are silhouetted against the day's final minutes.

And then the stars come out.

We have the technology. We can rebuild it.
Like so many other people, Myst was the first "real" game I played, despite being a kid and understanding nothing about the game. In fact, I don't even know if I ever got off Myst Island and made it to the other ages at the time.

Regardless, I wandered Myst Island for hours, delved into the library's secrets, flipped the marker switches up and down, heard the desperate pleas of Sirrus and Achenar. Twenty years on— that's right—as of next year, you can take that first edition copy of Myst out to your favorite bar and buy it a drink—Myst still holds a dear place in my heart.

To celebrate this auspicious anniversary, Cyan has released realMyst: Masterpiece Edition. This is the fourth major version of Myst—the original, realMyst, Myst: Masterpiece Edition, and now realMyst: Masterpiece Edition.

The original Myst was made in Hypercard and was essentially an interactive slideshow: A collection of hand-drawn environments you navigated by clicking. RealMyst, on the other hand, turned those 2D environments into fully-realized, 3D polygonal spaces. The "Masterpiece Edition" designation is basically Cyan's way of saying "Director's Cut" or "Remastered."

So, in other words, realMyst: Masterpiece Edition is a visually-enhanced version of realMyst, which was already a fork of the original Myst line but rendered in polygons. Got that? Phew.

New look, old feel
You'd never know realMyst: Masterpiece Edition is essentially a twenty-year-old game. This isn't Battlefield 4, by any means, but the new Unity Engine-ified version of Myst Island looks comparatively gorgeous here. The addition of a day-night cycle is utterly pointless, but exploring at night or even at sunset adds a certain solemnity to the isolated loneliness of the island. Aside from a few muddy textures (especially the ones used inside the library's destroyed books), this is Myst Island and the Ages as you've never seen them before. It's a fantastic looking overhaul.

The most confusing part, actually, is that you have these amazing graphics on a game that conceptually feels so '90s. Whereas Myst's sequel, Riven, went with a more naturalistic environment, Myst is a unicorn taped to the hood of a car. It's red smacked right up against green.

 

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