Billed as the final chapter in the influential graphic adventure series, End of Ages is designed to bring Myst full circle, by offering contemporarily impressive graphics and a return to (relatively) straightforward exploration-based gameplay. Beginning right where the 1994 original left off, the game leaves players alone on the surreal island, faced with the ultimate challenge of unraveling the mystery of an ancient civilization known as the D'Ni. End of Ages was developed by Cyan Worlds, a studio led by Rand Miller, co-creator of the original Myst.
The Myst games have always made for good excuses to spend some quality snuggling time with your noggin. And that snuggling time in the grand finale of the series, Myst V: End of Ages, is rough.
Don't expect anything exponentially groundbreaking. The gameplay leans heavily on interconnected puzzles, such as opening the correct valves to create a living coral walkway across frozen waters, matching celestial symbols seen from stone towers by operating a complex telescope system, and manipulating counterweights in an abandoned arena. You still get plenty of signature Myst puzzles, which offer creative and challenging IQ tests in postcard-landscape disguises, the centerpiece being an odd system of stone tablets. Yes, stone tablets. Exciting, eh?
The Stone Age
These tablets facilitate communication with the bahros--skittish and initially creepy ape creatures encountered throughout the various ages (Myst's fancy word for "worlds"). The bahros' language equates basic symbols to actions, which acts as the core of Myst V's gameplay. Bahros perform actions associated with the symbols that you carve into the tablets.and, of course, these actions are all somehow interwoven into every problem you encounter. For example, you might discover a symbol early on, and after carving it into a tablet and leaving it for a bahro to discover, the screen steams up--indicating the bahro sign for heat. This connection helps you solve a heat-related puzzle later in the game; this and other similar uses of tablets across the ages offer a different taste of the seemingly unchanging Myst cuisine of puzzles. It takes some time to get used to the bahro-symbol-tablet dynamic, and while the system itself isn't brain busting, it's certainly time-consuming.
The bahros and their tablets comprise just one fraction of the grand finale of the Myst saga; even for those new to the series, Myst V does a fine job of summarizing the story thus far with main character Yeesha's journals, found throughout the starting area. Yeesha is the deeply troubled daughter of the original Myst's primary character, and her story presents a compelling morality play that's as rich as it is convoluted. But unlike in most adventure games, you're not just a mindless sheep being railroaded through the plot--in the end, it's you who gets to decide the fate of the Myst world. Take that, determinism!
Age of Slowdown
The ages themselves paint gorgeous backdrops for you to explore.assuming your hardware is up to snuff. On slower machines, it's Choppsville--Population: You. Other technical issues hold the game back, too; a lack of sound effects shatters the suspension of disbelief, and the game's height perception fluctuates wildly--at times you can walk up a very steep hill, but sometimes your virtual legs just can't take the strain of climbing a mild hump. Reasonably small flaws, yes, but they rip you away from the experience just enough to be annoying. The new navigation controls make up for this somewhat; instead of the typical node-based point-and-click movement routine, Myst V allows you to map the controls to a standard WASD scheme, making for a much more fluid experience.
Myst V isn't a rosebud twist ending to the series but rather a distinguished, picturesque, and more-than-sufficient finale. Purist adventure games don't have the same gravitas as they used to, but this game stays true to what developer Cyan Worlds sought to create.without ever straying into the realm of today's gaming "requirements" of adrenaline-packed action. Technical minutiae aside, Myst V acts as a fitting swan song for this beloved franchise.
People who downloaded Myst V: End of Ages have also downloaded:
Myst IV: Revelation, Myst 3: Exile, Riven: The Sequel to Myst, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, Myst: Masterpiece Edition, Real Myst, Myst, Uru: The Path of the Shell
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