Exile Collector's Edition
Release date: 09/2001
Developer: Presto Studios
A review by Gini 10th June 2002
One notices (apart from the fact that it was also mentioned in the "Making Of") that the developers really tried hard to create a story which really fits in Myst and Riven and makes sense. While other adventure sequels (for example Atlantis III) have only very little to do with the original story, with Exile you really feel that the story around the people of the D'ni, Atrus and his sons continues. Beyond it this is even more intensified, because not only new events were added, but also effects of past actions range into the present, what harmonizes the story still more.
For all, who are not so familiar with the story: The D'ni, a fictitious people, found a way to create new worlds (ages) by simply writing them down. With the help of so-called connecting books you can travel into the individual ages. Riven, the home of the D'ni was destroyed in Myst II. To create a new homeland for the D'ni, Atrus wrote Releeshahn and invested enormous amounts of time and work in it. They are visiting Atrus, his wife Catherine and his daughter Yeesha on Tomahna, when suddenly something terrible happens: A man, Saavedro, appears and steals Releeshahn. They can pursue him with the left connecting book to J'nanin, but afterwards it incinerates and with it also the possibility for Atrus to follow. In the course of the game it becomes clear that Saavedro did not steal the book out of pure viciousness, but that he has good reasons for his behavior. During the pursuit the gamer encounters again and again left pictures and messages, which are spinning mainly around a crime, long before committed by Atrus' sons.
The game is structured in 5 worlds (not including Tomahna). First you reach J'nanin, the age of the lessons, which served in former times as instruction of Atrus' sons. From here one can travel to three other ages, which are assigned to certain topics according to the type of their puzzles: There is Edanna, the age of nature, Voltaic, the age of energy and Amateria, the age of the dynamic forces. If one successfully receives the energy symbol in all three worlds, then one can travel from J'nanin to Narayan, Saavedros' home. It's pleasing that you are led by Saavedro's diary entries and messages step for step into the story.Puzzles
Puzzles are partly in style of Myst and Riven, thus very much oriented to machines, apparatuses... , where you actually already have won, if you could recognize the function and purpose. But also new things have been added, as for instance many puzzles in Edanna, the age of nature, in which it is for instance your objective, to get into a giant bird's nest. Actually the puzzles are throughout logical but you should have a tidy portion staying power, patience and above all combination skills, because most solutions can't be necessarily find out on first, but perhaps on the second or third view. Some are even nearly too difficult. What suited me however very well, was the fact that you often find clues in one age, which belong to another (usually drawings on diary pages). Or also that some puzzles are already preannounced, e.g. in Saavedro's house, or you can find important clues in one age for another.
I think it wasn't too hard for the developers to integrate the puzzles into the environment because you are at least travelling through "education ages", made for the training of Atrus' sons. Thus you can easily justify the existence of the puzzles here.Controls/graphics
As in the first two games Exile is mouse-controlled. There are actually two modes: Either you leave the mouse in the center and pan around, or you move the mouse over the whole screen and change the visual field only if you arrive at the edge of the screen. Since you nevertheless have to run again and again back and forth, it's practical to use the zip-mode, known from the predecessors. With the zip-mode you can cover longer distances in one step, which saves time and nerves. The graphics are awesome, this can be said without exaggerations. One has, like already in Riven, the feeling to be really in this world. Exile is extremely atmospheric. There are lots of light effects, I noticed it particularly at Amateria, in addition you can enjoy a 360° all-round view, what expresses the beautiful environment still better. Each detail was considered and drawn exactly. The textures are reliable and the apparently unimportant animations, like moving water, make the game still more alive.Adjustments/music/sound/actors
What must be noticed positively, is the fact that one can set the language (both spoken, and written), as desired to German or English, whereby the language of the main menu always remains German. You can also switch on/off animations as well as the zip-mode and of course you can adjust sound.
I consider the background music extremely successful, more about that in the section about Exile's soundtrack, which is added to the Collector's Edition as special CD. The sound effects are well fitting. Each object- or plant-manipulation has its own noise, is it a squeak oder something organic. Some few are a bit awkward or unpleasantly loud but no real problem.
Very nice that some sound effects from the predecessors were taken over as the long-known melody when entering a new age from Myst.
You won't meet many different characters in Exile, but if, then they do their job very well, particularly the mysterious Saavedro, played by Brad Dourif: Tormented, partly desperately, then again hateful and cynical. In addition the other characters, like Atrus and Catherine, act convincingly and professionally.Additional Features of the Collector's Edition The "Making Of"
Exile Collector's Edition contains a special CD, on which you can find, beside 3 different trailers, a more than 20 minutes "Making Of". Here you get to know about the production of the game. You were told about the creation of the story, the used technology, the surface design and textures, the production of the animations, music and sound. The entire CD is in English language, whereby it's spoken very clearly and easy to understand. Staff from the most diverse parts of the game tell about their work, special challenges and more. One gets a good impression, which immense expenditure stands behind a game such as Exile. To me as a gamer for instance it was not clear, that the technically seen most complicated and hardest producible scene in the whole game was Saavedro stealing Releeshahn. The production time of this scene took 2 months. Or how difficult it was, to find a suitable surface for the tusk-like towers of J'nanin. Very interesting the explaining of the individual production steps e.g. of the Squees (very cute, small inhabitant of J'nanin) or an organic looking wall consisting of roots.
Also certain innovations are explained in greater detail, as for instance the fact that you are still able to move on during inserted film sequences and animations and can pivot the camera, which wasn't possible neither in Myst nor in Riven.
All in all the "Making Of" is extremely interesting and worth seeing, especially because it makes conscious, how many expenditure, time and means behind a game such as Exile are.The sound track CD
I actually consider the Exile sound track for a masterpiece. While with other games the background music supports the plot and also fits, in Exile each title is really specifc to the respective scene and in combination with the graphics creates a marvelously mysterious, dramatic or also "myst"ic atmosphere. Although or straight therefore one should listen to the individual music pieces also on extra CD, which covers altogether 30 titles, whereby some, since they are meant for short scenes only, are naturally not long. I enjoyed all the titles, but particularly the well-known, dramatic main title and the bonus track "Exile" pleased me.The solution book
Exiles is not completely as difficult as Riven. On could overlook it much easier especially due to the structuring, but it probably has its difficulties too. Under normal conditions one must understand first, what's the actual objective and how the apparatuses are to be used. You can select, in which order you want to visit the three ages and can change between them, so the grind factor is decreased. But if you nevertheless couldn't get ahead, then a glance into the included solution book helps surely. It's part of the Collector's Edition and provides a lot of screenshots, which have partly explaining, partly supplementing effect. Thus they often help to keep orientation, because it's surely more difficult to explain the way without pictures. It is devided into the 5 ages, containing at least one map with each age, with all important locations. Between them there are again and again small marked hint boxes, which inform about the fact, that the just described solve could only be successfully executed if other things have already been done before.
The book explains why puzzles must be solved exactly this way and not the another way round. There is on the one hand a text description, which is very detailed and also shows the connections. On the other hand, between the texts, for those who don't have much time or desire for reading, you can find short catchword instructions, what's to be done in sequence. All these instructions again can be found in the last chapter "Step by Step", if you want to play Exile to the end without hesitation.
Included in the solution book are also all found diary pages and letters, which are printed in full length and also the functionality of the not easy to understand machines and apparatuses are explained exactly. I, e.g. didn't quite understand the puzzle with the ball as counterweight on Amateria. Here the objective was to manufacture a ball of crystal-, metal- and wooden parts - which should serve as counterweight for another ball on the other side of the scales. Though I could at last solve the puzzle by much try and guess, nevertheless it was very interesting to experience afterwards, why everything I did, was actually so completely logical - the well-known "Aha Effect"! The entire solution book is all in black-and-white, beautifully made with over 200 pages, leading you to the solution - guaranteed!Conclusion
Exiles is surely worth playing. That does not only apply to really officially sworn in fans of the Myst series, but also to all other adventure gamers, who prefer brainteaser puzzles and much combining instead of dialogues and a filled inventory.
My rating: 91% (Because of the one-of-a-kind graphics and marvelous sound an atmosphere is produced, that hardly other adventure games could compete with and also because the story is convincing and well inserted into the entire Myst series. In addition the puzzles seemed to me likewise well thought out and appear logical.)
Adventure-Archiv rating system:
80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable 70% - 79% good game, recommandable 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable) 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only) 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
System requirements played on PC MAC PC 233 Mhz Pentium II or faster 233 MHz G3 processor 1400Mhz, AMD Athlon (tm) processor Win 95/98/ME MacOs 8.1 or higher Windows 98 64 MB RAM 64 MB RAM 256 MB RAM 200 MB hard disk space 200 MB hard disk space 4x CD-ROM-drive or faster 4x CD-ROM-drive or faster LITEON CD-ROM LTN362 Resolution 640x480, High Color Resolution 640x480, High Color Resolution 640x480, High Color Suppports optional 3D-excelaration card Suppports optional 3D-excelaration card 3D graphic card 8MB graphic card 8MB graphic card ASUS AGP-V7700 Pure/Deluxe
Copyright © Gini for Adventure-Archiv, 10th June 2002
The Intro: You see Atrus writing Releeshahn
A scene from Amateria, the age of the dynamic forces. It not only shows the balance bridge but also how detailed the environment is created, here the water
In the centre of Amateria you find this dome
Here a nice example of light effects as atmopheric means
The path through the rocks is iluminated by blue lights
One of Saavedro's graffittis, with which he shows Artrus, what his sons had done to his people
Mirror orchids in Edanna, the age of nature, can forward light beams
The nest of a huge bird in Edanna - its the primal objective to get into this nest
This path within a huge tree leads to the swamp
A connecting book in J'nanin
Saavedro's desk in his home in J'nanin
In Saaveddro's house you get a taste of the coming puzzles
A cute little inhabitant of J'nanin, the Squee
The big water wheel is part of a puzzle in Voltaic, the age of energy
Voltaic: repairing a little island
A view of the gate which must be passed with an airship