Video Game / Uru: Ages Beyond Myst

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Uru: Ages Beyond Myst is the fourth game in the Myst series, developed by Cyan Worlds and published by Ubisoft in 2003.

Unlike previous games in the series, Uru is third-person, takes place in modern day, and you play as a custom created avatar instead of the Stranger. The biggest departure though, was that originally the game was going to have an Massively Multiplayer Online component to it, where multiple players could work together to solve puzzles.

You play an explorer who descends into the ruins of the lost D'ni civilization, located somewhere beneath New Mexico. In the ruins you find a hologram of Yeesha, Atrus and Catherine's daughter, who tasks you with rebuilding the D'ni civilization.

The multiplayer aspect was troubled from the start. The game was originally supposed to be multiplayer only, then had a single player mode added, then the multiplayer aspect was dropped altogether, after it was beta tested. Beta testers who had their own fan servers were allowed to keep their servers. Eventually the multiplayer aspect was released as Myst Online: URU Lives Again.

Two expansion packs were released for Uru: To D'Ni and The Path of the Shell. The original game and its two expansion packs were re-released as Uru: Complete Chronicles in retail form, and on Steam and GOG.com.

Uru contains the following tropes:

  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Items of clothing can be found throughout the game, usually in fairly conspicuous places, and can be customized once acquired. Of special note is the Journey Marker shirt, which is given as a specific reward for finishing the main game, and supposedly indicates the wearer sides with Yeesha.
  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating: Throughout the game are scattered pages that add decorations to the player's personal Relto island. Once found, these can be turned off at will. The more impressive ones are harder to find, as rewards for exploration or solving puzzles.
  • Artificial Outdoors Display: Ahnonay's "island" is actually inside a giant machine with rotating spherical chambers simulating different eras. Could double as a Truman Show Plot if what Kadish used it for is any guide.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • To demonstrate the Bahro's mastery of time, the night version of Minkata features a visibly spinning Galaxy! To put it into perspective, our own Milky Way takes 250 million years to rotate once!
    • Most of what Yeesha does, having learnt from the aforementioned Bahro.
  • Asshole Victim: Among the million-plus people murdered by Veovis and A'Gaeris were slave trafficker Manesmo and would-be false prophet Kadish.
  • Continuity Nod: Many of the balconies in D'ni are the same style as the balcony on Book Assembly Island on Riven.
  • Crapsack World: Teledahn qualifies as it was used as a secret base for slave trafficking, as does Noloben, where Esher performed gruesome experiments on the Bahro.
  • Endless Daytime: Teledahn's sun moves horizontally across the sky, never dipping beneath the horizon as it circles. Though evidence (images of the sun passing in front of some more distant landforms) indicates that it may an artificial light source, rather than the planet being Mesklin on steroids.
    • Eder Gira has a day/night cycle of about six hours.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: The rotating fortresses of Gahreesen are designed to prevent mass linking, in order to disable an invading force.
    • More horrifically, the second fortress contains a number of prison cells in the top level, designed to be inescapable. In order to link into them, the architects set up a timer, and as that timer reached a certain point (and the appropriate cell slid into place), they would forcibly link the prisoner therein. One wonders what would happen if they got the timing wrong...
  • Foreshadowing: A message from a DRC member reveals that a D'ni survivor with knowledge about the Bahro has been discovered in a house.
  • Fungus Humongous: The age of Teledahn.
  • Go Back to the Source: The Cleft. In "Path of the Shell", Myst.
  • Guide Dang It!: The puzzles in Uru: Path of the Shell revolve around waiting for long periods of time, 14 minutes for almost all of them to be precise. The only hint to this is Bible-style references written on the walls, referenced in books in Relto which force you to count each individual line, which require you to know D'ni math to figure out what 625 units of their time is in normal minutes.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Perhaps Shomat.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: If Shomat did, in fact, do a Heel–Face Turn, this is how.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Bahro Nekisahl.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Many of the "obstacles" that bar explorers are bits of rubble that any healthy person could easily walk over, never mind climb. Others are DRC roadblocks, most of which have gaps that should be possible to squeeze through. Some of these items can be climbed over or removed, leading to Guide Dang It! moments where it's difficult to tell which blockages are supposed to be passable.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Most of Kadish's puzzles use this principle: they present an obvious goal, while in fact you're supposed to do something else that's less obvious.
  • Left the Background Music On: That haunting melody in the Kadish Gallery? Is being played by a cannen upstairs.
  • Made Of Nara: Your avatar can fall four stories without panic-linking and not be harmed.
  • No Antagonist: You spend your time in this game exploring the lost D'ni civilization. There is no threat to deal with here. The only wrongs that need righting happened long ago.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The DRC did its best with barriers and traffic cones, but the city's damaged structures would not be safe if panic-links weren't an option. Also, judging by most of his former properties (the flets of Kadish Tolesa in particular), Kadish was never afraid of heights.
  • Path of Inspiration: Kadish planned to start a cult, passing himself off as a figure of prophecy. He wasn't finished rigging the Ahnonay deception when D'ni fell, and with no potential flock to fleece, he let himself waste away in his treasure vault.
  • Posthumous Character: Kadish, a very influential figure in the D'ni culture whom you learn more about in Path of the Shell. It turns out he was a false prophet who claimed to be the Grower.
  • Portal Network: The Nexus, a small Age accessible from various points within the D'ni cavern that in turn provides links to numerous locations throughout the cavern and within D'ni-controlled Ages.
  • Punny Name:
    • The Great Zero, the gigantic device that provided the D'ni — and later the DRC — with a GPS-like positioning system. The D'ni also called it "re'Zeero", which means "center" or "point of origin" in their language.
    • Gahreesen, an obvious play on "garrison", which is what it is.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: While most of the city itself is built of super-durable stone, justifying how little its structure has been damaged over centuries of vacancy, plenty of ancient fabrics and paper items from before the Fall of D'ni are in remarkably good condition. In Teledahn, at least, you'd think the fungal spores saturating the air would have reduced all the organic artifacts to mildew long before the DRC showed up to salvage any of them.
  • Reality Warper: The Bahro, and to an extent Yeesha.
  • Recursive Canon: Uru Live accepts the Literary Agent Hypothesis in regard to the early games in the Myst series. However, items from within those games appear "for real" within the game, such as the telescope from Riven and some of the illustrations from the books.
  • Red Herring: The Path of the Rock, which just loops you back around in circles. This is thematically foreshadowed in several of the game's puzzles.
  • Retcon: The placement of the Cleft. The novels heavily imply the Cleft to be located in the Middle East, while Uru moves it to New Mexico.
  • Scenery Porn: The Garden Ages, the Kadish Gallery, and Ahnonay. The outdoor sections of Teledahn count as well.
  • Socialization Bonus: Several puzzles (Eder Tsogal, Eder Delin, Ahnonay, and the pellets in Er'cana) were originally designed to require multiple players to complete. They were redesigned to be possible to complete solo once Uru Live fell through the first time. The pellet puzzle got the worst treatment. In the two-player version, one player would drop a light-emitting pellet down to an unlit lower chamber. Another player would wait in the unlit chamber, and snap photos of the hidden images on the walls once the chamber was illuminated by the first player. But in the one-player redesign, the links to the chambers are mysteriously set 14 minutes apart from each other. You have to drop a light pellet in, then go to the lower chamber and wait 14 whole minutes of real time for the pellet to fall and give you 15 seconds of illumination. And to think, none of these avatars consider bringing along a flashlight...
  • Time Travel:
    • Ahnonay. How does one linking book manage to take you to three different eras, when all books up to this point could only ever take you to one? Well, it doesn't. You eventually discover that the "age" is actually a bunch of three very convincing sets (and one unfinished one) contained in giant spheres connected to an even larger rotating mechanism.
    • Yeesha proves her merits in the offline version of ''Path of the Shell" by rigging a puzzle so that part of the solution travels back in time in order for the player to see it.
  • Tree Top Town: Arguably the Age of Teledahn, though with giant mushrooms instead of trees.
  • Uncanceled: The multi-player component was canceled before it came out of beta, but brought back to life a few years later by GameTap as Myst Online. Then, after little over a year, it was canceled again. Then plans were announced for a version of the game using fan-made content... which was canceled. Cyan then decided to release the whole thing as open-source, and to just let the fans deal with it. After that, it was uncanceled yet again, and the service is currently free to play.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: If you want to keep those neat looking pillars in your Relto forever, the game won't force you to return them. Of course, this means you are keeping the living soul of a sentient being agonizingly trapped for eternity for no reason other than your own amusement...
  • Violation of Common Sense: Several puzzles involve suicidal leaps, though this is less crazy than it seems since the player can "panic-link" back to Relto at any time. However, certain locations can only be reached by falling distances that should risk broken bones or worse. Meanwhile, to proceed in Gahreesen the player has to jump into a gap in a wall that is rapidly grinding against another wall; in real life, missing the timing on this kind of feat would result in certain death.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The death of Willow "Wheely" Engberg in Uru Live, i.e. the slaughter of a teenaged girl, was roleplayed out over chat.
    • When the player behind the character Pepsi in Uru Live died in real life, it came as quite a shock. Years later, in the D'ni Games (a fan-created Olympics-styled event) of Until Uru, the Pepsi Memorial Marathon was named in honor of her.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Two of the Prophecies of Oorpah that Yeesha quotes pertain to this.

Alternative Title(s): Uru Ages Beyond Myst, Uru

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