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Video Game / Uru: Ages Beyond Myst
aka: Uru

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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, is that the game is structured around a Massively Multiplayer Online component, where multiple players work together to solve puzzles and bring life to its worlds.

Players are explorers who fell a "calling" to 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. Generally you begin by taking on her "Journey", exploring select Ages left behind by the D'ni that shed light on the Bahro, a mysterious species buried deep in D'ni history. This also leads you to learn about the D'ni Restoration Council (DRC), an organization who has taken over the archeological process of documenting and restoring the D'ni Cavern and its Ages for public access. The stories that result from these converging paths (saved either in length journals within the game or in archives of previous live events) span over 20 years alongside the game's development, telling tales of discovery, schism, achievement, tragedy and hope for the future, and the cause of seeing the explorers "make a home" in the Cavern.

The multiplayer aspect had a long and troubled history. Originally intended to be the only gameplay method, Ubisoft insisted on a singleplayer mode, then cancelled support for ''Uru Live'' following the multiplayer beta. Beta testers who had their own fan servers maintained the virtual world for several years as Until Uru, after which Cyan arranged a deal with the GameTap service to relaunch the game as Myst Online: URU Live. A "season" of content in new Ages and narrative developments was created, but did not gather enough players for GameTap to continue hosting, leading to another shutdown. Cyan would then rerelease the game as Myst Online: URU Live (again) as free-to-play, hosting the servers themselves, but turning over development of new content to the fanbase, which has resulted in the release of fan-developed Ages and worlds and their own narrative saga.

During the multiplayer's original cancellation, two expansion packs were released for the singleplayer game: To D'Ni and The Path of the Shell. They were retroactively bundled together as Uru: Complete Chronicles in retail form, and are available to this day on Steam and

Uru contains the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: Two major arcs saw premature ends due to the game's development difficulties:
    • The original narrative begun with the conflict between the DRC and Yeesha's followers was cut short after the Uru Live beta, with the singleplayer expansions and Myst V: End of Ages having to roughly tie the loose ends together.
    • The second arc under GameTap's hosting picked up the pieces from all of these for a narrative of its own regarding the DRC's future and the fate of the Bahro, but was left hanging by GameTap pulling the plug on the servers.
    • Unlike last time, the MOULagain era has seen no significant follow-up to these events due to Cyan not wishing the Official Fan-Submitted Content to cause major plot developments for the Myst/Uru universe at this time, resulting in their narrative being smaller stakes and divorced from matters of the Bahro or other official characters.
  • All There in the Manual: In honor of the Myst franchise's 25th anniversary, Cyan released documents that provided backstories for some of the Ages. They included information that never made it into the game and hinted at what players might have been able to do had the original vision for the game been realized.
    • Records of the live events of the Uru Live beta, the season of content ran under GameTap, and ongoing narratives under the current MOULagain version are primarily chronicled by fans outside the game. The former two eras do have In-Game Novels in Chiso Preniv if one wants to experience the records within the universe, however.
  • 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. Had the multiplayer component continued as planned, pages that conflicted with each other would have been added, allowing for greater differences between different players' Reltos.
  • 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 – Chemistry: Once you've got all the calendar sparks in Uru Live, the fireworks continue even if you've got the rain on.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Reaching Gahreesen's Bahro door to complete the Age's Journey is an infamous case: the player jumps a massive gap from a narrow rock spire down to a crevice where the door is located, landing feet-first as typical for jumping with no support gear to suggest a safe landing. Though Bahro manipulation of the jump is possible, there's no obvious signs of it, and is the latest of a long series of dangerous-in-real-life feets taken to explore the age.note 
    • 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.
  • Ascended Fanboy: In the singleplayer of To D'ni, the Bevin neighborhood visitors list is populated with the names of well-known players from the first multiplayer period.
  • Asshole Victim: Among the million-plus people murdered by Veovis and A'Gaeris were slave trafficker Manesmo and would-be false prophet Kadish.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: The leader of the Bahro Nekisahl is the same guy whose shoulder skin Esher stole for linking purposes.
  • Call-Back: Over the course of Path of the Shell the player assembles various strange box-and-line patterns. It turns out to be a code for the Myst island fireplace, found in the book in the aforementioned game as pattern 148.
  • Continuity Nod: Many of the balconies in D'ni are the same style as the balcony on Book Assembly Island on Riven.
    • The north and south walls in the Myst library still bear the burn marks where the Haven and Spire Linking Books were destroyed back in 1806.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In his office, Douglas Sharper keeps two journals, one for 2003 and one for 2004. In the base game only the first existed, but the second was added in the To D'ni expansion, with the idea that new entries would show up while the player is elsewhere to indicate that Sharper is down there in the cavern with you. The only issue is that after a handful of starting entries the new journal dates pull from the player's system clock, giving the impression that Sharper left the cavern in 2004 only to come right back however many years later exactly when the player arrived.
  • Covers Always Lie: Crossing over with Never Trust a Trailer, the first promotional image for the game released - back when it was still known by its development codename of "Mudpie" - was from an age called Noloben. While it's mentioned in an in-game document, Noloben itself never appeared in Uru and instead became one of the ages recycled for use in Myst V.
  • 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. (Though the passing in front may simply be a rendering glitch)
    • Eder Gira has a day/night cycle of ten hours.
  • Enough to Go Around: Each age has a different instance for each player due to the difficulty of turning a Myst-type puzzle game into an MMORPG. An attempt was made to justify this with the Bahro. You can, however, invite other players into your own instance of the age, if you need some help or just to have some company while wandering around.
  • Fake Town: The Age of Ahnonay is an island with several islands visible in the distance, some of which have buildings on them. When the player manages to calm the ocean currents and swim to them, however, they'll find that the buildings are just painted onto screens, and moreover, the islands and the sea around them are all part of a gigantic artificial sphere.
  • First-Person Snapshooter: The KI has a built-in camera, much like Myst IV, and a Relto page adds a holographic imager that plays a slideshow of your photos.
  • Foreshadowing: A message from a DRC member reveals that a D'ni survivor with knowledge about the Bahro has been discovered in a house. Unfortunately this was one of the plot threads that got interrupted by the Live portion being cancelled, and by the time it resumed (briefly) the thread had already been wrapped up in Myst V.
  • 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.
    • At some point, the developers realized this, and in one of the Dni classrooms, there's a page that shows conversion.
  • 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 (lit. "Twisted Bahro") from the MOUL season. The Bahro were ill-treated by those D'ni who knew they existed (typically without the Powers that Be having a clue, lest the masters be incarcerated or executed), and some of them have given in to their hate—of ALL subspecies of Homo sapiens.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The 'ante-chamber age' to Ahnonay features a stained glass window that appears abstract and meaningless but actually depicts the mechanism used to fake the age's apparent time travel properties - there's even gear teeth around the edge. Just in case more proof was needed after Kadish Tolesa that Kadish was an enormous smartass.
  • 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.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Reveal that the islands around Ahnonay are actually giant paintings is a subtle nod toward resource shortcuts that game developers usually take.
  • 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, a plot point on the Gahreesen age. Of course, some of the Ages could simply have lower gravity than Earth.
  • Noisy Nature: There are screaming pihas on Jalak.
  • 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.
    • Subverted when the introduction of the Bahro Civil War saw the introduction of a hostile faction, which officially have killed one (NPC) Explorer already, but thanks to Yeesha and more friendly Bahro's (offscreen) efforts, they've been kept from interfering with players directly.,
  • 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.
    • The fan Age Maw cannot be safely traversed without the ability to panic link, as the image at the link shows.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: DRC members had this reputation in the original arc of Uru, their emphasis on safety and meticulous approval of access to ages and parts of the Cavern being seen as too restrictive compared to the free reign of exploration Yeesha's Journey promises. After this culminated in the supposed death of Phil Henderson and DRC's first abandonment of the Cavern, later reorganizations of the group are more forthcoming and open to Yeesha's ways, resulting in more relaxed receptions to its members.
  • One-Woman Wail: The track that plays when you reach the Great Tree in the Watcher's Sanctuary contains a haunting female solo against a somber cello theme.
  • 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.
    • Following the events of the Uru Live beta, DRC engineer-turned Yeesha devotee Phil Henderson is presumed to be this, with To D'ni presenting him such with DRC officials grappling with the loss and his personal Relto Age appearing very solemn, seemingly in a state of mourning itself. Ultimately this would be subverted in ''MOUL'', where he's shown to have been rescued by the Bahro and returning to the Cavern to advise people during the the former's civil war.
  • 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/In My Language, That Sounds Like...:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: A bar in Ae'gura contains a video marquee showing the names of dead players (as well as one dead fictional character). A later update to MOULagain added an entire memorial age, Veelay Tsahvahn, with notebooks containing obituaries for deceased members of the Uru playerbase, the greater Myst fandom, and those involved the games' development.
  • Socialization Bonus: Several puzzles (Eder Tsogal, Eder Delin, Ahnonay, and the pellets in Er'cana) were originally designed to require multiple players to complete. The latter two 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...
  • Tears of Awe: A civilization once spanning a vast empire, the D'ni, existed in a gargantuan cavern beneath the Earth, with the power to create "linking books" to other universes. In the present era, circa late-1980s/early-1990s, the ruins of the civilization were rediscovered by amateur archaeologists and fictional philanthropist Elias Zandi. It's said that when Zandi was brought on an expedition to the cavern, he fell to his knees and wept at how vast the central cavern city of the D'ni empire actually extended.
  • 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.
  • Treetop Town: Arguably the Age of Teledahn, though with giant mushrooms instead of trees.
  • 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. You can even hear them cry out when you take the pillars a second time...
    • Hassling innocent Quabs in Ahnonay can be diverting, given how Ugly Cute they are.
  • 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.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Yeesha generally only appears in this manner, speaking in a disembodied manner in Bahro caves and at the end of Path of the Shell; at other times a Virtual Ghost via recordings left in the Cleft; she has only appeared in the flesh twice in Uru's history: Once at the end of the singeplayer version of her Journey in the raining version of the Cleft, and again in the MOUL season, giving a speech in K'veer to gathered explorers regarding her actions in the Bahro Civil War.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The death of Willow "Wheely" Engberg in the MOUL season, i.e. the slaughter of a teenaged girl, was roleplayed out over chat.
    • When the player behind the character Pepsi in Uru Live's beta 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