Riven: The Sequel to Myst in Review – I’m lost and mysty-eyed…

I still remember the awe I felt on first booting up Myst (TMA Review) for the iPhone. This legendary game, one of the first in the genre to promote the sales of CD-ROMs all those years ago, as well opening up a whole new age in PC adventure gaming, was surprisingly well suited for the modern iDevices. And when I was offered a chance to review Riven: The Sequel to Myst, naturally I jumped at the chance.

As with the famous original, Riven is a first-person point-and-click puzzle-centric adventure game. The story picks up right where Myst ended. Our mysterious stranger, after having helped Atrus trap his unruly sons, is now charged with the task of travelling to the age of Riven, and find and rescue Catherine – Atrus’ wife. Riven itself is being torn apart by the actions of Gehn, Atrus’ father, making our protagonist’s job all the more difficult.

If you thought Myst was big, think again. Instead of the separate ages found in the original, Riven offers a huge world consisting of 5 islands, all containing plenty to explore and marvel upon. The basic concepts centered on hunting for hints and using them to solve the puzzles (scattered around the ages), have been further expanded by adding a limited inventory. The puzzles have become even more devious in more ways than one, though they are still manageable for any attentive player. And there is a helpful built-in hint browser for anyone desperate for a quick solution, but it does require an internet connection to work.

Unfortunately, while the idea of a bigger world to explore may sound great, it doesn’t quite work out in terms of iOS gaming. The world isn’t too densely populated with puzzles and interactive elements, with up to a dozen screens between any two. And not even talking about how easy it is to get lost, the amount of time you’ll spend on simply tapping through the screens to reach your goal becomes a bit frustrating after a while. I definitely feel some kind of an interactive map with shortcuts to destinations would make Riven much friendlier to the casual player.

It’s immediately apparent that even at the point of conception Riven was meant for thoughtful exploration. And how much fun would it be if the that huge world around you wasn’t so damn gorgeous. Utilizing prerendered backgrounds with some animation overlays and FMV cutscenes, it’s worth picking up just to wander around the deserted island. Riven isn’t full Retina quality, but the original graphics are kept in 640 by 480 resolution, meaning on the iPhone 4 you’ll get somewhat better quality that on the older devices using the lowly 480 by 320 screen. The music is simply a piece of art, adding a lot to the atmosphere of the game. No wonder they released it as a separate soundtrack all those years ago.

The interface is a rather straightforward translation of mouse-control to the touchscreen. There isn’t any cursor, with the game easily handling direct input from your fingers. Unfortunately this change removed any hints the intellectual cursor offered in the original game, including highlighting the hotspots, transition areas, etc. The developers added a kind of hotspot highlighting, which is triggered after a set amount of time of inactivity on a screen, but it only marks the actual objects in the game, with navigating around the huge expanses of Riven often becoming a challenge.

Riven picks up where Myst left off and delivers the ultimate experience in iPhone adventure gaming immersion. The huge world of Riven is open for brave adventurers to explore at their own leisure, gazing upon the beautiful landscapes and fiddling around with the leftover machinery. Unfortunately as with any huge world it’s easy to get lost, especially playing in sessions of 20-30 minutes or less. It’s a shame that the developers didn’t spend that extra bit of time polishing up the interface, thus limiting the stunningly beautiful and eerie environments to the die-hard players who are willing to spend the time required to really get to know the world of Riven. Casual players will probably only scratch the surface of the Sequel to Myst, challenged by the huge and seemingly pointless expanses of the game.

With this I declare Riven: The Sequel to Myst officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Riven: The Sequel to Myst Developer: Cyan Worlds
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.2 Min OS Req: 3.1.3
Price: $5.99 App Size: 1035.82MB
  • Huge and beautiful world for you to explore
  • Atmospheric music
  • Devious puzzles
  • Up to a dozen screens to navigate between puzzles
  • Easy to get lost
  • Difficult to navigate with accidental transitions often a problem
  • Outdated static html-based hints system requiring an internet connection


Can’t get enough of the adventure genre for the iDevice? Take a look at these TMA articles/reviews!

A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well): http://twitter.com/ChiffaNe

Next ArticleFreebies Roundup: Moonsters and more Free for Limited Time