But I also wish I were actually good at adventure gaming. I have a hard time with puzzles. Gollum would have had me for lunch. I've been enjoying my time in Lilly Looking Through and Memoria so, so much, all the while becoming extremely depressed each and every time I look up a walkthrough that made me feel like a complete and total three-year-old who could barely assemble one of those funny multi-colored donut toys.
The thing is, I'm smart, right? I was in those funny advanced classes that taught me languages and told me my IQ was high and were separate from the muggles. At one point they even did experiments on me that made me put together odd puzzle-thingies and attempt to control a primitive computer. Yet here I am now playing Words with Friends and trying to spell words like "THURK" or "ZSATS."
Why on earth did I subject myself to the tough puzzles of Myst Online: Uru Live?
My time away from the game has given me a bit more understanding for the game's pacing and mechanics, so this time around I was actually able to figure out much of it on my own. I'd forgotten a bit, but once things got going, I looked back over the week having accomplished much more than I ever had before.
The great thing about Myst Online: Uru Live is that you can play through each of the Ages with other players. Of course, this fantastic, multiplayer puzzle-mode works only when there are other players around (or at least players who take a moment to notice the fact that you've been asking question in chat for the past 15 minutes), but it's a neat idea.
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When I played the game way back when it first launched (or around those early phases) I played in one of my Ages with another player. She came in with me and helped me without spoiling the solution. Sometimes she would stand by a button or switch and say something like, "Now look at this. Notice anything?" and she would gently nudge me like that when I got stuck. It was glorious, immersive, and sometimes magical. Unfortunately, there were at most about 20 people online while I played this week, and they ignored me.
The game remains fantastically detailed. Even considering its age, its graphics are top-notch. When you unlock a certain area of an Age, dust can fall, and a wonderful wave of slow music washes over you. It all feels unlike anything you've ever been through in an MMO before. Those moments are common through the entire experience, but it rarely feels cliche or repeated. Each moment just adds to the rest of the building fun.
Still, I can see why there are not more MMOs like Myst Online: Uru Live. It's just a lot of work to create such large, intricate puzzles. Players burn through content so, so quickly, and there's no way that a developer team could keep up by creating this sort of content. I can also see why Myst Online: Uru Live might have been met with smaller and smaller crowds as it went on. After all, it's a relatively linear game, and once the Ages run out, there doesn't seem to be much else to do. The players who do remain seem as invested as before, but I wonder if they show up just for some roleplay and community because it's free to enter. Who knows? I know that Cyan demands a certain type of player, though, and even though I probably would not pass the entrance exam, I would love to be as immersed as some of the people who have continued to play and or participate in the community to this day.
It's wonderful that Cyan managed to keep the game going, even after its initial confusion and closure. The game can stand on its own, but it's also a small part of the greater Cyan catalogue. It's not really an MMO as much as an experience to be had with other players. I would love to see another attempt at it, but it would be a costly project unless the developers fashioned it with more primitive graphics, inside the browser, or even in a mobile client that does not require such incredible art assets. Then again, amazing graphics sort of define Cyan games.
You can check the game out right now, for free, on the official site.
Next week, I will be playing League of Angels, and you can join me as I play it live on Monday, the 20th of January, at 4:00 p.m. EST, right here on our livestream channel.
Each week on Rise and Shiny, Beau chooses a different free-to-play, indie, or browser-based game and jumps in head-first. It might be amazing or it might be a dud, but either way, he'll deliver his new-player impressions to you. Drop him an email, comment, or tweet!