RealMyst: Masterpiece Edition Review

• written by Krist Duro

RealMyst has been often emulated over the years, though rarely matched, let alone surpassed.

The latest re-release of the all time classic adventure title, 'Myst', has finally dropped and is a love letter, of sort, for longtime fans of the series. While there are many, many . . . many versions of this game available and on a large variety of different platforms; from PC, to tablets and even the DS, I am happy to say that this one, much like the original RealMyst prior, is certainly worth a try for fans and newcomers alike. This is, in my opinion, the essential version of the game to get. That said, while there's a lot to appreciate here, this title isn't without its flaws and people need to pay notice.

At this point, gamer or no, I like to think Myst a rather known title. Starting as what was essentially used as a tech demo to show off the capabilities of early 90's PC's; a yesteryear's Crysis, if you will, the title has since garnered the admiration of many gamers, being considered one of the best in the adventure genre. Certainly one of the most popular. Having been available in many forms and on almost every platform imaginable, just about anyone has had the chance to play this game in one way or another. Many have. That begs to question, just what makes this version any different than the others? To put it simply, it's more or less just a graphical upgrade from the original RealMyst. For me, it's more than that though. As a long time fan of the game and series itself, this release stands as the first time where the world that the creators envisioned in Myst has finally, truly been brought to life. This is what has me so excited about this title. While I appreciated the attempts that were made with the original RealMyst, even for the time, the game was pretty ugly and I actually preferred just playing the glorified picture explorer that was the original release of Myst. The atmosphere just wasn't present in RealMyst, even if it offered a level of freedom and exploration not available originally. It just felt lifeless and static. Dead. This time around, I think they have finally gotten it right. Not only do they offer a world that can be explored, it's a world that I truly wanted to explore.

So, for those who don't know, what is Myst? Well, as I've stated before this is an adventure title, and a rather popular one even to this day. Casual in the way that you can take your time, explore the world and soak in the often times relaxing atmosphere. Hardcore in the way that you are plopped in a world with no real direction and are expected to slowly unravel a rather complex mystery that spans the eight to ten hours it will take most players to get through the game. I don't really want to talk too much on the story because, as I've said, it's there for the player to find and really telling anything about it seems like a waste. I will say that throughout the experience players will be taken to interesting locals, tasked with solving complex puzzles and will be presented with some truly amazing vistas. While I would definitely say this game leans a lot on its puzzling, it is definitely just as much an atmosphere piece; asking players to enjoy the world around them as much as it is asking them to solve the puzzles found within it. It's really just a fantastic experience. One that has been often emulated over the years, though rarely matched. Let alone surpassed.

So? What's the problem? I've spent the last few paragraphs basically praising this game from top to bottom, let alone the positives of the port itself. What could possibly be the issue here? Well, easy to say, performance. To put things lightly, the game runs like crap. Running a GTX680 and an i5-3570K, there is no reason I should be getting the performance I am with this title. The game is pretty. There is no denying that. That said, it has a lot to do in overall art design and less to do with the engine. While the game is a looker, it certainly is not the latest and greatest. It definitely should not be bringing my computer to its knees when trying to run the game at its best. With my setup, I was seeing between 20 - 60 fps at any one time, though performance was all over the place. What's worse is that the game would lock up for a second or two randomly throughout my playtime for no apparent reason. It's obvious that optimization is far from where it should be.

A game like this should be aimed at as large an audience as possible, but it seems even fairly modern rigs are struggling with the game in its current state, at least at anything around medium or higher. I experienced no issues on the lower settings. I also must note that it seems the FPS cap for the game goes all over the place depending on what settings you have on, which doesn't make sense in itself either. What's more, for a game that is essentially selling itself as the visual upgrade that it is, I had to do a fair bit of work myself in order to get the most out of the game. Out of the box, the game is a jaggie mess, tasking me with going into my graphics card itself and boost its internal AA and Super-Sampling in order to mitigate this to a reasonable extent. It's obvious that more work should have been put into the game, and I am hoping performance will be increased in the future. This should not be such a demanding game in itself. When the whole point of the release is the new coat of paint, though making the most of that coat of paint is only currently possible for the small amount of people with truly hefty rigs, it really is hard to recommend this to the average person.

Overall, I am very happy that Cyan decided to re-release this game as they did. The update in visuals over the original RealMyst is a rather massive one and is just what was needed to breath life back into the title yet again. At $18 ($12 if you already own the original 'RealMyst' on Steam , while I feel it may just be a few bucks too high for what it is, I still find it decent value and it should make for a tempting package for both longtime fans and new players alike. That said, the performance seen at the time of writing just isn't acceptable. To play this game at even moderate settings requires a computer that your average gamer just doesn't have, and to take it down to settings lower than that almost defeats the purpose of this visual upgrade to begin with. Not to mention they could have done much more on a technical level in terms of things as AA and working FPS caps, let alone overall stability of the game. Here's to hoping that they can get the game performing properly and allow people to experience what this re-release really has to offer. Until then, I praise the game for what it is, begrudge what it does wrong but, in the end, can't quite recommend the game at the moment.

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