With the recent success of Myst’s reinterpretation for VR platforms, players are understandably hungry for more interactive worlds stuffed with puzzles to solve and mysteries to unravel. French developer Orichalcum Pictures plans to satiate that desire with Ryte - The Eye of Atlantis, a story-driven VR adventure that wears its inspirations on its sleeve - even down to the spelling of its title. Though a rather shallow narrative, weak performances, and disappointingly limited interactivity make for an experience that’s probably more suited to child audiences who are more eager to explore the fantasy setting than engage in a puzzling adventure.
A World Of Atlantean Wonder
After a quick tutorial and narrative framing device that sees the player transported into the body of an Atlantean, players are soon thrust into the virtual interpretation of the Greek mythic city, where Ryte’s biggest strength confidently presents itself. The doomed city of Atlantis is immersively realized in Virtual Reality thanks to a powerful atmosphere that consistently imposes over the player as they explore, with the moody lighting of city torches and the vast soundscape of the island, in particular, standing out.
These aspects of presentation instantly excited me to explore my surroundings and see what secrets the environment had in store for me - only to be let down by it’s frustratingly linear and closed off style. While its sound design and visual aesthetic effectively establish a strong sense of place for Atlantis, Ryte’s simplistic level design falls short of expectations. For a title that seems to be as much about experiencing the ill-fated island as much as it is about solving puzzles, gameplay areas are oddly designed to funnel the player down a narrow path, and don’t really allow for any kind of interesting interaction with a world that initially seems so intriguing.
A Story That Sinks Before It Can Even Land
A similar sense of unfulfilled potential can be found in Ryte’s rather sloppy and messy narrative. Though the aforementioned tutorial section posits the player as a virtual tourist experiencing Atlantis through an Animus style simulation, it’s a framing device that stops being present in the narrative as soon as the opening closes. The story instead sees the player taking on the role of a wrongfully imprisoned High Priest, who is spoken about as having some kind of impact on the eventual fate of Atlantis - though by what means is never truly explained or ultimately comes into action. Throughout my entire journey in Ryte, I was never really aware of what my overall goals or intentions were, and I felt entirely disconnected from the stakes at hand - which seems pretty crucial given that the story revolves around an entire city sinking into the ocean.
This narrative confusion is largely attributed to the rather wooden and frankly grating performances of the voice cast. Every character that the player interacts with is tiringly monotonal, to the point where it feels like the actors were given no direction at all. The fact that a lot of plot exposition and dramatic tension is delivered through these vapid characters that talk in never-ending monologues left me incredibly frustrated and resistant to engage with its story.
Puzzles That Made Me Wish I Was Drowning
The Myst-inspired puzzle-based gameplay is significantly more engaging than its narrative, but the inconsistency in their quality crucially detracts from the overall experience. Rather than increasing in complexity as the story progresses, it seems instead, the puzzles increase in their obtuseness, often completely uninformed on how to approach a challenge. It’s worth noting that there are some players who enjoy abstract solutions to their problems, and there were certainly a few exciting moments where I was forced to think differently and stumble across a perspective that pleasantly satisfied me. But in most cases, I frustratingly scratched my head for far longer than was enjoyable, only to eventually mutter, “You’re kidding me, how I was supposed to know to do this?” to myself.
Sink Or Swim?
Ryte attempts to offer a budget sized Myst experience, but misses the mark on capturing the same charm and gameplay fundamentals that its inspiration so expertly defines. In attempting to tell a grand story in a limited framework, it loses its own personality by focusing too much on the scale of its narrative, rather than the charm of its location, and the endeavor to offer abstract solutions to puzzles veers too far into the obtuse, leaving me frustrated more often than intrigued.
TechRaptor reviewed Ryte: The Eye Of Atlantis on PC using a code provided by the developer.
- Some Good Visual and Audio Presentation
- Messy Narrative
- Inconsistent Puzzles
- Frustratingly Flat Vocal Performances