Eight hours. Eight. That's how long it took to get from Waterloo to Paris, thanks to the wrong type of tree on the track. Eight hours. I could have played through the whole game in that time. Actually that's not true. I attempted the first puzzle, and instantly got stuck, having to shamefully ask for help. I then spent what seemed like eight hours rolling cannonballs in and out of a box in order to facilitate a makeshift pulley to get to the top deck of a ship to discover the whereabouts of a mythical winged creature...
Berated over the years by hardcore gamers, the Myst series has nevertheless spanned over a decade, with the original shifting some six million copies. The big guns have been wheeled out for the fourth instalment proper, which boasts an original track from none other than coffee table favourite Peter Gabriel (apparently Enya was busy).
PC Zone was present at the worldwide premiere of the song, Curtains, (It's actually an old B-side - Ed), and we have to say it was an absolute dirge, with Gabriel crooning something about 'Lions on our curtains'. The song appears at a key moment in the game, with the rest of the music scored by respected composer Jack Wall, who revealed, "It was a real pleasure to meet him and to be able to work with him on this project. I'm still mostly just a fan."
Storywise, it's a fanciful affair, but fans will be pleased to learn that it answers questions left hanging since both the original Myst and Myst III: Exile. Essentially a family drama, it involves the two brothers from the first game, Sirrus and Achenar, who have been trapped in separate prison worlds, abandoned by their father for crimes against literature.
The engine is developed from scratch, and in a return to the mid '90s, the game features live action, with video of actors integrated directly into the storyline. Throw in the traditional Tourette's-inducing puzzles, and it looks like being business as usual on an even grander scale.
With the game taken out of the hands of long-time developer Cyan and placed in the hands of Ubisoft Montreal, creative director Patrick Fortier revealed, "We didn't want to go off and do something that would lose the essence of what Myst is all about. We obviously wanted to capture that, but in terms of the content we were very free to do what we wanted. When we presented the game to Cyan they said it's really cool how you guys did it because you added your own signature, your own flavour." Taste our review next month.