Monday, August 06, 2007

A Myst Hypocrite

After all my bitching last week about virtual reality escapism, I'm wasting my long weekend by playing "Myst IV: Revelation." I bought it years ago but my underpowered video card and out-of-date operating system couldn't handle it. It's still a bit beyond my computer but not so bad that I can't enjoy it (without crashing like it used to).

I love Myst games because of the exploration, and because of the sort-of-logical arrangement of the worlds. You see some pipes and some switches and you dust off your puzzle-solving hat and, next thing you know, you're playing with levers and getting awfully frustrated. Myst is always great when it's logical...but when a puzzle relies on some bizarre visual clue that you may have missed it's just plain frustrating. I HATE walking back and forth endlessly, scouring my cursor over a 360-degree panorama trying to find a clue.

Since the worlds are so big in Myst IV, I'm doing quite a bit of that. But thanks to the built-in help system I am less frustrated than I usually would be.

Myst has never been so beautiful. These ominous weather systems are stunning, and it's fun to just "tap" things...every part of your environment has a sound when you tap it -- paper, wood, metals -- and I like to imagine the poor foley artists: "what do you think THIS shape and type of wood should sound like?"

I've finished the Spire age, and again I have very little patience with trial-and-error math puzzles and obscurely scattered notes. As usual I wonder why the voice acting is so terrible, and why so many Myst games feature villains who scream "No! No! No no no!" I guess if YOUR dad had locked you in an unpopulated Rube Goldberg-type world for decades, YOU'D do a lot of negating as well.

The graphics are stunning. These are games to be savoured. But why am I inside my apartment on such a nice day?

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