"Having a family is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain." I've always thought there was a lot of truth in this quote by Martin Mull. Even the best of families have their problems, and the family of Atrus and Catherine certainly have had their share. In Riven, we discovered the sins of Atrus' father, Ghen, and in Myst and Exile, we uncovered the disturbing escapades of their two sons, Sirrus and Achenar.
In the beginning of Revelation, Atrus, as usual, asks for your help and then reveals a secret regarding his sons. Many of us thought they died on Myst Island when he destroyed the linking books in which they were trapped, but, as revealed at the very beginning of this game, they have been living in their respective prison worlds for nearly 20 years. The decision of whether or not to free the sons has caused a rift between Atrus and Catherine and may be affecting their 10-year-old daughter, Yeesha. It is up to you to determine if the sons have truly repented of their evil ways and deserve to be freed.
The game begins in Tomahna (viewed briefly in Exile) where you meet Yeesha, go for a wild ride, and get a quick lesson regarding the use of your camera and journal - very handy tools for recording important information you'll discover during the game.
You quickly learn how to use your cursor, which is a very realistic hand that behaves in a familiar point-and-click fashion. It points, grabs, touches, and holds a magnifying glass when a close-up view is possible. It also has a resting position which allows you to tap things within reach. The transparency, color, and speed of the cursor can be changed in the options menu, and you can choose a right or left hand.
The screen moves smoothly with your cursor. You can pan in a complete circle or look straight up at the ceiling or down at the floor. A simple right click (Windows) or Control + click (Mac) will allow you to free your cursor from the screen motion so that you can move it to access something at the bottom of your screen, such as the camera. For some puzzles and most close-ups, this happens automatically. You will also find that you can move your point of view during most of the cut scenes, which makes the environments incredibly immersive.
The puzzles in Revelation range from fairly easy to quite difficult, but all of them are well crafted and logical. While none of them are inventory based, you do get to manipulate many objects. Clues abound in all of the worlds and can be gleaned from notes, journals, conversations, and a device that allows you to view past events associated with specific places and objects. Not only does this allow you to gather important information for the puzzles, but it also adds depth to the unfolding story.
Two of the most difficult puzzles in the game have a timed element, but after setting them up properly, working out the best strategy, and getting some practice, they are beatable. There are patches available to slow these puzzles down a bit, but I was able to complete both on my G4 iMac without needing the patch. There is also a Help Map built into the options menu. I didn't use it when I first played the game, but I did look at it for the purpose of this review. It seems to give either vague hints or the the complete solution with very little middle ground. If you just want a nudge in the right direction, you may choose to look elsewhere for your hints.
The worlds, or ages, you visit in Revelation are visually stunning, and each one has its own type of beauty, from lush Haven to austere Spire and from homey Tomahna to spiritually tranquil Serenia. There are many fantastic animals to see, and interaction is often possible with them.
The acting, while a bit uneven in spots, is for the most part very good. Except for the voice acting of Catherine, which is too strident for my taste, I felt the characters were well developed and added an important immediacy to the quest. They also provided guidance as to the next steps to follow.
As I mentioned before, nearly everything in each environment is touchable. I found myself tapping things just to hear the clink of glass, the clang of metal, the rustle of leaves, or the thump of stone. The other environmental sounds, such as wind, water, fire, and animal calls, are excellent, and the lovely music suits the locations and enhances the mood of each age.
The game has both audio and graphic options to help you adjust these functions to suit your computer, and subtitles can be turned on for those who need or prefer them. There is a zip mode for getting around faster in case you have to backtrack on a frequently trodden path, but since there is so much to see and do, it's best to keep your zipping to a minimum.
Revelation is an awesome accomplishment by Team Revelation and a very satisfying game for those of us who have followed this family's trials and tribulations from the beginning. It is not necessary to have played the previous games in order to fully enjoy it, but those who have done so will find some closure here and the tying up of loose ends. Who knows? Atrus may well need help with another problem someday. If so, I'll certainly be ready.
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