5: Homogeneity

Another difficulty I have is that the Ages are not varied enough. To begin with, they are too similar to each other, or to Ages which went before. So Tahgira resembles Rime (the ‘bonus’ Age of realMyst), and Todelmer has a certain resemblance to Spire. But that may be subjective: more problematic is my impression that too often the puzzles in each Age are simply not integrated into the environment overly well, and so do not help to lend the Age a distinctive character. Again, in the Myst saga we are used to the puzzles having a specific relation to the Age—Myst III: Exile being the obvious example, with each Age embodying different principles of the Art of Writing linking books—nature, mechanical systems, and balance. But the other games are generally no different, if perhaps less schematised. I’ve already mentioned Selenetic, which is based on sound, from the first game; Spire is based on electricity and magnetism; and Haven is based around a natural environment to which Achenar has had to adapt, and the puzzles reflect that. The major exception is Riven: The Sequel To Myst, which is (basically) a single Age of separate islands; but even there, the puzzles related to the rebel Moiety are designed in such a way that it is plausible that Gehn would not be able to solve them, because he would not even be able to see the clues. They are there right before his eyes, but his way of looking at the world would prevent him from seeing them.

But in Myst V: End of Ages, the link between the puzzle and the Age is all too often a casual one. The clearest examples of this are Noloben and Tahgira, mainly because of the limited number of puzzles in each Age. Turning on the heating (Tahgira) was something we have had to do many times before, and with more intuitive results (Rime, for example, where the heating defrosts the ice which has frozen the door shut). And blocked tunnels are something that could occur anywhere.

In the case of Todelmer, the situation is more complex, and it is in the puzzles themselves that it most resembles Myst IV: Revelation’s Spire. In both Ages, the electricity has to be turned on; in both, a crucial objective is to react a similar tower/column in the distance; in both, having reached that tower, looking back at the first tower will show you something that about it that was right under your nose, but that you couldn’t see before.

Maybe it’s just me, but I sometimes felt as if I’d been here before, and that none of the Ages in Myst V: End of Ages were unique enough. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Todelmer, and Laki’ahn had a decent go at Age/puzzle integration with the holding pens, the arena, and so on.

However, the main problem, as far as homogeneity is concerned, is the Slates.

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5: Homogeneity