Myst V: End of Ages review

The Good:
  • Epic, beautifully realized real-time 3D Ages to visit
  • Intriguing storyline to follow and finish
  • Implementation of "slate" system that mostly works
  • Organic and challenging puzzles. It's the last game in the series
The Bad:
  • The slate system doesn't always work
  • Endgame may leave some disappointed
  • A few graphical glitches. It's the last game in the series
Our Verdict: A worthy ending for a long-standing series that doesn't quite reach greatness, but will likely please more than disappoint.

Close on the heels of Ubisoft's Myst IV: Revelations came the announcement of Myst V: End of Ages from Cyan Worlds, the original creative genius behind the game that many still see as the ultimate adventure paradigm. Along with Cyan's welcomed return to the fold, word that the new title would also be the last Myst game created great anticipation, but the fact that it has arrived so quickly may give pause to Myst aficionados. Will this dénouement prove a worthy, if nostalgic, end to the phenomenally successful series?

Before we see how the door closes on this fabled franchise, it might help to take a moment for a quick synopsis of the history and storyline in the Myst games thus far. In the original Myst, players were introduced to the central theme of every game since: instant access to fantastic worlds through a "Linking Book." You arrive as a stranger summoned to assist Atrus, a recurring character in the series who needs help dealing with his various and sundry familial trials. Atrus is among the last of a humanoid race with the power of "The Art of Writing." Meaning, he can create Linking Books to just about anywhere. Dysfunctional families aren't limited to the real world, however, as two of Atrus' sons, Sirrus and Achenar, abuse the power of the Linking Books and wreak havoc throughout the "Ages" or worlds of Myst. With your help, the brothers end up being imprisoned as a result of their crimes.

Thus came Riven, which focuses on Catherine, the wife of Atrus, who needs to be rescued from yet another dysfunctional family member--his lunatic father, Ghen. What do you have if you don't have family, right? For Atrus, that would be peace of mind.

In Myst III: Exile, the franchise was handed off from Cyan to Presto Studios. Here we find Atrus trying to rebuild D'ni, his homeworld, and being interrupted by a psychopath bent on revenge; a lingering repercussion of his sons' destructive path. They had destroyed the man's Age, and he wished to hold Atrus accountable for their actions. Aren't kids great? We are introduced to Atrus' daughter Yeesha in this game, who will make a notable appearance in EoA.

Myst IV: Revelations specifically deals with what happens to each member of Atrus' family, so to avoid laying out any spoilers, we'll consider it sufficient to say that several characters in the series undergo some rather significant change.

While the main Myst series was straying true to its conventional roots in capable third-party hands, Cyan was hard at work on the ambitious URU: Ages Beyond Myst. This game laid a divergent track in the Myst universe, where Cyan hoped interest in an online community would blossom, but instead became truncated into a single player experience with two expansions.

In Myst V: End of Ages, this reviewer feels an overwhelming gratitude that Rand Miller and his group have successfully weaved a cohesive pattern from a historically convoluted skein of story arcs, and all within a game that any beginner could pick up without scratching their head in confusion. Well, not too much, anyway. The entire Myst concept has always been pleasantly ambiguous.

In End of Ages, your game begins in familiar surroundings: Atrus' prison room in K'Veer, which you helped him escape in the original Myst. It appears that Atrus has passed the torch--or in this case Tablet--to his now-fully grown daughter, Yeesha. She will place upon you the heavy burden of a quest, stating that the Tablet "called" you to her. Soon you are ushered on your way to the task of thinking and linking.

In your travels, you will also meet Esher, the polar opposite of the pensive and cryptic Yeesha. Esher makes it known that he will be your source of help and information, and lays some doubt as to whether you can trust Yeesha, though nuances of his own make you doubt the purity of his motives.

So once again you reprise your role as the philanthropic "stranger." To simplify what follows in the game, I will boil down the basic premise in EoA: you are chosen to accomplish tasks in four Ages and ultimately unlock the Tablet, resulting in the end of your journey and the game. Easy enough, right? Yeah.

You will do this with the help of the Bahro, a technologically skilled yet socially stilted humanoid (if apish) race. They will be your help and hindrance; you will find Esher's allusion to this, and personal distaste for the race, rather warranted.

To acquire the Bahro's assistance, you'll need to make use of slates found on pedestals throughout the various Ages. You will use these slates to literally draw rudimentary symbols that the idiot savant Bahro will (hopefully) recognize, causing them to render puzzle-specific aid by adroitly carrying out your request. For instance, at one point you will come across a body of water which you cannot cross. Using the slate to draw the appropriate symbol prompts the Bahro to use their technology (magic) to create a way to cross to the other side. Elsewhere in the game, you will lay the slate down in a cave at just the right spot, causing a Bahro to appear and assist you by inadvertently creating a way out.

By helping you in this way, the Bahro act as the intercessors in puzzle resolution. This is a masterstroke idea, whose implementation can unfortunately be a little frustrating. I get nervous when I have to draw a straight line with a pen. "Drawing" on the slates with a mouse made me want to jump out of my skin. Thankfully, a straight line can be a sine curve, as the slate was very forgiving of my woefully inartistic efforts.

Continued on the next page...

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What our readers think of Myst V: End of Ages

Posted by My Dune on Oct 13, 2018

The characters have been animated, not filmed.

I have not played Uru yet, but this must be the easiest in the Myst series. The puzzles are not immediately easy, but you know quite quickly what the intention is and how to solve them. I was immediately disappointed in the graphics. The characters have been...

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