To me, this is the best version of Myst. Released in 2000, only a year after MME, it uses a different game engine, and thus provides a dramatic graphical overhaul. Instead of a series of stills to navigate between, everything has been rendered, and movement is now continuous, allowing unlimited perspective in each age, and the ability to walk wherever you please. Well…except off a cliff or a walkway: there’s still no risk of dying.
Everything looks better and smoother, colours are less glaring, videos are much better quality, and details are more abundant. There have been some small, but noticeable additions and alterations: the Myst linking book on Channelwood now lies on a table, rather than on the floor, and the crystal grove on Selenitic now looks less extravagant, both in shape and colour. Stoneship boasts a plethora of aquatic wildlife, Selenitic houses some bats in the underground tunnel leading to the radio-locator, and Channelwood features some frogs hopping around the wooden walkways. Stoneship also has the luxury of weather effects, with a constant rain, sometimes transitioning into a thunderstorm. And last but not least, Myst island now also features a simple gravestone for Ti’ana, Atrus’ grandmother, who, according to the books, was buried there.
Each age now also has a day-and-night cycle (30 mins for Myst, 15 mins for the other ages), which makes for some beautiful displays, such as the rosy sunset clouds and purple twilight on Myst. Selenitic wins hands down in this category, however, as its turquoise fog (now less garish) segues into a spectacular fiery orange at sunset, only to be replaced by thick darkness at night. The exception is Channelwood, which has unaccountably been left out of the loop: its night-time version didn’t make it into the game, for some obscure reason, so it’s forever doomed to daylight.
Rime: This is the other major addition of this remake: a brand new age. You can find its descriptive journal alongside the others in the library, but the linking book only becomes accessible after the end of the game. Not only does this mitigate the anticlimactic ending, but it also creates continuity with Riven, the second game in the series. The age itself is small and its puzzles are easy, but it’s unique because of its setting. Rime is a type of ice, and this is one of only three ages in the entire series to be located in a cold environment. Due to the northerly climate, it’s possible that the age is undergoing a polar night, as, by contrast with Channelwood, it doesn’t have a daytime. It consists of a small icy island in the middle of a frozen sea inhabited by whale-like creatures, which can be heard or seen in the distance. Light snow is falling, and a piercingly cold breeze blows from the sea. There are three towers just off the shore, which Atrus uses to create auroras, and an observatory located on a hill. It can be accessed via a small hut at the base of the hill, which leads to an elevator. The observatory also houses a small lab, where Atrus experimented with crystals. The age even gets its own musical theme, and, all in all, despite it being an ‘extra’, I find that it’s well integrated, both into the game and into the series as a whole, since it plays a role in Myst IV.
To conclude, this remake is definitely a step up from the original. I’d even go so far as to say that I really wish Riven, at least, could’ve benefited from a similar treatment (with any luck, if this project succeeds, it just might). The problem is that realMyst is now also graphically outdated, so it might be a hassle to get it to run on modern systems.