So close and yet so far…This edition of the game, first released on Steam and now also available on the Switch, was meant to be its ultimate version. It takes the free-roam concept introduced in realMyst and updates the graphics, along with a couple other “ease-of-use” elements thrown into the mix, such as puzzle hints or a flashlight to facilitate night-time exploration (and it does get rather dark out there).
Let’s start with the main positive aspect: the graphics have been upgraded. Boy, have they been upgraded. If you still have a working copy of the original Myst or realMyst kicking around somewhere, compare them. Or let RMME do the job: it has a feature which lets you do just that. The game looks gorgeous now, with full freedom of movement and dynamic environments: rippling water, moving grass, leaves and even clouds. It’s a real feast for the eyes, and I caught myself wishing that Riven, Exile and Revelations had benefited from a similar treatment.
But…what should have been a culmination has been marred by two issues. The first one, which I haven’t personally experienced, is bad framerate dips. People have reported major slowdowns, to the point of the game becoming unplayable. This has been addressed in the latest Steam update and, from initial feedback, it appears that it has been largely resolved.
The other issue – and the one which rankles the most for me – is the day/night cycles. You see, RMME was advertised as having full day-night cycles. To me, that meant that Channelwood would finally get its own cycle and no longer be the odd age out. I was not wrong: Channelwood now has a lovely full moon and fireflies glowing above the water at night…but Selenitic’s and Stoneship’s day/night cycles are gone. As a reminder, in realMyst, Selenitic had a gorgeous blazing red sunset, followed by inky black night. It was dramatic and beautiful. Now, it has a static sun peeking out from behind some clouds. It still looks good…but it suffers so much by comparison. Stoneship is now stuck in a permanent night storm, and while it’s not as dramatic a loss as Selenitic, it’s still noticeable. Heck, at first, even Mechanical didn’t have a day/night cycle. They finally added that one in, but the other two are still AWOL. The result is immersion-breaking: there’s no valid reason why half of the ages have day/night cycles, and the other half don’t (especially given they used to have them before). It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, as well as a feeling of having been cheated by the advertising.
Mind you, that could just be me, and what I want from a game like this might not be what you do. To me, immersion and atmosphere are key, so the above is a very sore point. If it’s irrelevant to you though, you will probably enjoy the game far more than I did. And perhaps it will be your definitive version of Myst. That being said, I still haven’t completely given up on the idea of an update that would finally add the missing cycles back in. Here’s to hoping…