Myst III: Exile is the third game in the Myst series. This was the first Myst game not made by the Miller brothers, who handed off development to Presto Studios, the developers of The Journeyman Project (the other big real-actor-using first-person Adventure Game series), though Rand Miller reprises his role as Atrus. The game was released in 2001 for PC and Apple Macintosh, and in 2002 for Xbox and PlayStation 2. It was published by Ubisoft.
Ten years after the events of Riven, the Stranger is invited to Atrus and Catherine's new home to meet their new daughter Yeesha and to see the new Age Atrus has written for the surviving D'ni, Releeshahn. But a man breaks into Atrus' home, steals the linking book to Releeshahn, and escapes into another Age. The Stranger pursues the thief, and becomes trapped.
The Stranger learns the man's name is Saavedro; years ago he saw his home destroyed by Atrus' sons Sirrus and Achenar, and stole Releeshashn to lure Atrus to several Ages that were originally written by Atrus to teach his sons how to use the Art, but had since been altered by Saavedro. The Stranger has to navigate these altered Ages, J'nanin, Edanna, Voltaic, Amateria, and Narayan, and reclaim Releeshahn from Saavedro.
Tropes found in Myst III: Exile include:
- Alphabet Soup Cans: Atrus installed them into Amateria and Voltaic, and Wrote them into Edanna. Justified in the fact that all 3 of the ages were (in-universe) meant to be learning experiences, first for Atrus' sons, then for Atrus himself (whom the player so conveniently goes in place of).
- Be the Ball: What happens to the player in the climax of Amateria. As in, you riding inside one of the ice spheres, along the entire track network of the age.
- Bittersweet Ending: If the player chooses to leave Saavedro stranded after retrieving the Releeshahn book from him, Myst III: Exile can fall under this. Even if you get the best possible ending instead, Saavedro has still lost twenty years of his life, including his daughters' entire childhoods, and is quite possibly incurably insane. To say nothing of the fact that he's become a psychopath, easily capable of snapping and killing someone with little provocation. What kind of rehabilitation does he have ahead of him? Makes the homecoming pretty darn bittersweet right there.
- Convection Schmonvection: In Voltaic, there is a room that you can fill up with lava. As long as you drain the room before entering, you can waltz inside without waiting for the room to cool down first. You can also stand on a platform suspended just inches above the lava, and suffer no ill effects. Then again, we know the Art loves to intentionally screw with reality as we know it.
- Covers Always Lie: On the game's cover, the door to the J'nanin observatory is turned 180 degrees from where it is in the actual game. This led to some pre-release speculation that the observatory could rotate. It can't.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: There's even one ridiculous point in Exile where, after solving a waterwheel puzzle in the Voltaic Age, the gear that meshes with it makes you spin around on top in one screen.
- Fantastic Flora: Loads of kinds in Edanna.
- Follow the Plotted Line: The lack of any obvious goal in Edanna, combined with its confusing layout, brings this trope into play. As a result, you find yourself simply solving all the puzzles that present themselves to you, without ever knowing why. In case you're curious, what you're trying to do is free the Grossamery (bird) from the giant pitcher-plant (which the official game-guide mistakenly calls a flytrap), then call it from a cage in the swamp to have it come pick you up and take you to the location of the symbol.
- Go Back to the Source: Tomahna.
- Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: When you trap Saavedro between the two shields in Narayan, he screams in despair. He apparently doesn't realize that he can simply climb the vines up onto the roof of the chamber. If the vines aren't strong enough to support his weight, then he should be able to hack through them with his hammer. In fact, once the outer shield was breached, he could've just jumped onto the platform from the roof. Of course, when you discover that your family might be alive after believing they were dead for 20 years, it's understandable if you're not thinking clearly.
- Also, he's apparently been stumped by the combination lock for twenty years, which should have been way enough time to try all the words stitched onto the curtains.
- It's a Wonderful Failure: Return to Tomahna without the book to Releeshahn. Or, return to Tomahna, bringing Saavedro with you... The endgame of Exile is a very detailed, involved puzzle that comes with myriad ways to screw up; each one nets you a message related to how your mistake translates to "You lose, dumbass". All but two involve getting your sorry ass killed.
- Lighter and Softer: Tonally, this game is nowhere near as dreary as the other installments. Robyn Miller's drab, haunting soundtrack is replaced with somewhat more uplifting tunes by Jack Wall (which almost border on epic movie trailer music). The antagonist is sympathetic and morally grey instead of a deranged sadist, and this is also the only game where you can achieve a true happy ending without it feeling pyrrhic.
- Lock and Key Puzzle: There are 65,536 possible codes to bring the Lesson Age books down.
- Multiple Endings: The ending in Exile requires you to undo one of the puzzles you just solved in order to achieve your basic victory condition. To get the best ending, you then have to undo a different puzzle before resetting the first, and forgetting something at any point gets you an immediate failure. Furthermore, forgetting one thing but remembering everything else locks you into the best ending - that would be picking up the Tomahna book in the Narayan outpost instead of opening it like every single other linking book in the game. You have no choice but to let Saavedro go after that, if you want to get to the book without him killing you.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: You can use the linking book to return to Atrus immediately after Saavedro gives it to you, but this will leave him trapped, knowing his civilization was fine the whole time, and that it's just out of reach.
- Press X to Die: Using the Tomahna Linking Book anywhere that Saavedro can physically reach it at the end of Exile will not end well for you, or anyone else.
- ''Psycho'' Strings: The tracks that play around Saavedro in Narayan, very reminiscent of The Shining, considering how Ax-Crazy Saavedro seems to be at this point.
- Redemption Equals Death: Averted. Not only does the player reconcile with Saavedro and allow him a happy ending, but in a bad ending where you drive Saavedro to suicide Atrus chews you out about it. Of course, Saavedro's most serious crimes were arson (no one was hurt, though at least one linking book was destroyed), theft, vandalismnote and plotting bad things — and he did so for understandable reasons — so killing him would have seemed like Disproportionate Retribution.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Saavedro subsisted on little squirrel-like creatures called Squees. No relation to Squee!, a trope with the same name.
- Steam Punk: The upper part of the central tower in J'nanin appears to be fixed in place with bed-sized screws.
- Tag Line: The Perfect Place to Plan Revenge
- Tree Top Town: The Age of Narayan, though you only see this at a distance and read about it in Saavedro's journals.
- Video Game 3D Leap: Sort of. You still click from screen to screen, as you did in the original Myst and Riven, but each "screen" is now a cycloramic (cyclorama=360 degree panorama) view that allows you to look freely in all directions.
- What the Hell, Player?: If you decide to leave Saavedro trapped at the end of the game, Atrus calls you out on it in the epilogue. The official hint guide also gets in on it.Q: "I trapped Saavedro and he gave me the book. Can I go now?"A: "Sure. After all, Saavedro hasn't suffered yet. Twenty years is nothing, really. Think how much fun it would be to leave this tormented fellow stranded with the knowledge that his civilization (and perhaps family) thrives just out of reach... It might be interesting, in a clinical sort of way, to see how he reacts. You heartless cad."
- The effect is somewhat ruined by the fact that he will gleefully murder you without a second thought if you accidentally give him a single chance, while knowing his people are still alive and killing you will remove any chance of him ever going home... and presumably he'd go on do the same to Atrus and his entire family...