Myst III: Exile is rendered in 3D and is a mix of first person exploration and animations. The game is, as were the previous two Myst games, a puzzle adventure.

The antagonist in this game is Saavedro, a former student/disciple of Atrus, creator of worlds. Saavedro was left to die on a ruined world. Having gone mad, he sought revenge against Atrus by creating an intricate trap of puzzles. The player starts the game visiting Atrus, and is sucked into the trap in his stead. Wackiness ensues.

An interesting twist is that this game was not made by Cyan, the company that created the concept and the first two games. Presto Studios, with Cyan's permission, is the creator of Exile and possible subsequent Myst games. If you liked Myst, you'll probably like Exile. If you thought Myst was too slow… Exile probably won't change your mind about the series. But it is really pretty.

The successor to Myst and Riven, Myst III: Exile puts the player in a more immersive environment with new worlds to explore and new storylines to uncover. It was released May 7, 2001 to eager fans around the United States, and will make its way to Europe and the rest of the world in the Fall.

Unlike the previous games, Myst III: Exile was developed by Presto Studios and published by Ubi Soft. Cyan, the company responsible for Myst and its sequel, was only peripherally involved in planning and creative development for the game.

Story

Since your last meeting, Atrus and Catherine have been building a new world for the survivors of D'ni. The new world, which Atrus has dubbed Releeshahn, is contained in a linking book which is stolen by a madman shortly after the player's arrival in the game.

The madman, Saavedro (played by Brad Dourif), is angry at Atrus for destroying his homeworld. By sneaking into Atrus' home age and altering the books describing the ages, Saavedro has built a complicated trap into which the player has accidentally been caught.

It is the player's job to escape the trap, save Releeshahn and find some way to deal with Saavedro.

New Ages

Tomahna

Atrus and Catherine's new home. A house full of lush vegetation and typical Atrus architecture surrounded by a beautiful desert.

J'nanin

The hub age from which the other ages are accessible. J'nanin was originally designed to be a training age for Sirrus and Achenar, but when Saavedro stumbled into the world, he started changing the puzzles as part of his trap for Atrus.

J'nanin is a sandy island with a deep pit in the center which has a lake at the bottom. Out of the center and three corners of the island, enormous tusk-like structures stick out of the ground. The center pillar has a laboratory at the bottom and a room at the top which is accessible by a (broken, when you arrive) elevator.

Each of the other tusks is inaccessible until the player deciphers the puzzles to access them. Contained within these other tusks are the linking books to the other ages.

Voltaic

The Voltaic Age is the most "traditional" of the worlds in Myst III. It has puzzles similar to those found in Myst and Riven. A barren rock in the middle of an ocean, the Voltaic Age houses systems driven by steam and electricity which the player must activate in order to find the hidden symbol.

The die-hard Myst player will notice that one of the rooms (containing a large electricity distribution system) has symbols engraved in it -- the same symbols that were deciphered as numbers in Riven.

Amateria

An Asian-themed age, Amateria has tracks running all around it for huge balls to roll on. The balls are composed of a strange substance that is described in Saavedro's notebook as being similar to the shield substance which destroyed his homeworld.

Edanna

Edanna consists of an enormous dead tree which has provided a home for an entire ecosystem to thrive. Exotic plants and animals inhabit the tree and provide the player tools and clues as to how to solve the puzzles within.

Narayan

Saavedro's homeworld, where the climax of the game occurs. Narayan is a world covered with pink clouds above which organic-looking structures float. The culture which evolved in this age designed the writing system and symbols which are central to puzzles throughout the game.

Puzzles

Unlike Myst or Riven, the puzzles are mostly self-contained and rely little on knowledge learned in other ages or other portions of the game. They also are not as disguised as they are in some places of the previous games.

None of the puzzles overlap in their style -- each is a world unto its own. However, all of them are image-based; in Myst and Riven, there were several puzzles which required "speakers or a decent pair of headphones1," so the player could hear the sounds associated with objects and put them in the correct order or place.

Some of the puzzles are obvious to someone who has played Myst or Riven -- especially on the main age of J'nanin. On the other hand, the puzzles in Edanna and Amateria diverge greatly from those in the previous games.

Overall

Despite having initial compatibility problems with a large number of users (Mac and PC), Ubi Soft has released two patches which have brought Myst III: Exile up to a playable level. The game is much more technologically advanced than it's prequels, but the puzzles are much simpler. The game takes less time to complete and is less immersive than Myst or Riven, but still breathtaking in beauty.

Hard core fans won't be disappointed by the game, and newcomers to the series won't be scared away.

1 A joke referring to the manual for the original Myst.

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