Myst 3: Exile

Sometime in the dark ages (around 2003), I found Myst 3 in a discount bin at the local Big Lots. I was intrigued, so I ponied up the 10 bucks to buy it. Since I heard that Riven was so difficult, I wondered if skipping directly to 3 would spoil things. Over 15 years later, and after playing Riven, it is an absolute no; they might as well be separate.

"Screenshot of Myst 3: Exile, in J'nanin"

You meet your old pal Atrus, because he invited you to take a tour of the new home age he wrote for his scattered people. But when he gathers some last few things, some barbarian pops into his study, sets most things on fire, and steals the master book of this new home! You link to a barren island, but can't catch up to this guy before he runs into a tower. When you break into the tower, the guy links away into another book, and seals it away. By this point, you've learned what happened to him, and how Sirrus and Achenar (Atrus' sons) tortured him after they pillaged his world and killed everyone. You learned in the first Myst that those two did this to countless worlds; this man's story is, unfortunately, not unique.

This barren place is J'nanin, a hub age that links to four others that Atrus hoped would teach his sons four important concepts about world building. In order to prove that you solved an age, it will reveal a symbol. I recall that I had difficulty with these puzzles back in the day. I must have grown since then, since I kept solving these one by one fairly easy. Granted, I read all the journals I could find, and they documented the world better than the ones in Riven (though in a much darker tone). Most puzzles seemed to have more than a trivial amount of difficulty, but nothing like Riven or anything. It might be easier than the original Myst! Every switch I recall coming across, I flipped (I can't think of any exceptions).

"Screenshot of Myst 3: Exile, in Edanna"

Voltaic is an age that is all about energy. I didn't remember a whole lot about this age. It turns out that you need to get a generator going and eventually fill an airship with steam. Hint: there are multiple levels on the valves, and you're standing on an elevator. Amateria is about dynamic forces, though I'm not sure how the world is connected to the puzzles I'm solving (these could be placed anywhere!). I love the design and architecture of this age, along with the hexagonal rocks that look inspired by the Giant's Causeway. Edanna is about nature, and is especially unique because it's all contained in a huge tree. While I loved the organic forms and natural flow to the place, it is difficult to navigate sometimes, because it isn't obvious what is a path, and what isn't.

By the time you catch up to this man, he realizes you're not Atrus, and everyone realizes how embarrassing those messages he left were. At this point, I started getting a little crazy, too, because I'd seen this guy before as another similar, manipulating, scheming character. Downstairs, you notice some script that is reminiscent of the symbols you've been collecting. This is where you reference the journal that Atrus gave you at the beginning of the game. Oh look, the solutions are in bold. I'm not sure why, but I recall the ending as looking more heavenly than it did this time.

While Riven was played in ScummVM, the copies of Myst 3 sold today run in ResidualVM. It's pretty similar, but it's a fork for games that aren't strictly 2D rendered. Instead of being a slideshow like the last 2 games were, Myst 3 has full 360 degree views of every point. Due to this, everything is rendered from the middle of a sphere, requiring some 3D acceleration, which I'm guessing ScummVM will not do.

"Screenshot of Myst 3: Exile, in Amateria"

Along with that Myst Kickstarter, I watched a Myst series retrospective video. It mentioned that Myst 3 had an amazing soundtrack, and I was like "Yes! The music in Myst 3 was awesome!". My old self thought so too, because I had dug into the game files, and copied some of them into my music library, and had been listening to them occasionally over the past 15 or so years. They were poorly coded MP3s, and I realized that it was a disservice. When the video was over, I headed to Ebay and bought the Myst 3 soundtrack for $10, ripped it a few days later, and I have not regretted it.

I had this game for only a few years, until I lent it to a friend, who so happened to never catch up with again. As far as I can tell, he didn't avoid me or move away out of some kind of malice between us, much less over this. This isn't a game to get your gears ground up over if you've finished it, but didn't like it much. I didn't consider it a loss if I didn't play it again. (For the record: I forgive you!)

Turns out that I was either an idiot (as teenagers are) or I can solve puzzles better (probably both), and misjudged Myst 3. It's pretty good!