Developed by Cyan (now Cyan Worlds) and originally published by Broderbund, Riven was released on five CDs in 1997. It was later released on a single DVD-ROM with enhanced visuals and eliminated the need to swap discs. Development of Riven lasted over three years, and was the result of a larger budget and much larger development team than the original. Among the newcomers to the Myst creators was former Industrial Light and Magic employee Richard Vander Wende, who helped lend a unique artistic style to Riven in order to separate it from its predecessor.
The game earned high praise from fans and reviewers. Many fans consider Riven to be the best game in the series, and the most difficult, as well. With five islands full of interesting puzzles, intriguing story, and impressive visuals, it’s little wonder Riven was as much a success as the original Myst, selling 1.5 million copies in just its first year on the market.
Like Myst before it, Riven is a first-person, point-and-click adventure game set in gorgeous pre-rendered environments. The player explores the world of Riven by clicking on different areas of the screen in order to turn, walk, and interact with objects in the environment. Progress through the game could be considered non-linear, as there is no list of goals or objectives. Instead, players must explore the five islands of Riven to solve puzzles on their way to the story’s ultimate conclusion. Also like Myst, the game included a “Zip Mode”, for fast travel over previously explored areas.
The plot of Riven essentially takes place immediately after Myst ended – Atrus, the man you met in D’ni at the end of the first game and the owner of Myst Island – needs help, which is where the player – or the “Stranger” – comes in. Atrus’ wife, Catherine, is trapped on the deteriorating Age of Riven, and is being held captive there by Atrus’ father, Gehn. Details on Riven’s backstory, including the reason Gehn is trapped there, can be found in the first Myst novel, Myst: The Book of Atrus.
At the start of the game, Atrus gives you his journal, which he hopes will be enough to get you up to speed on what exactly is happening and what he needs you to do. He also gives you a trap book, which he’s afraid you’ll need in order to capture Gehn. Don’t use it yourself, or it’s game over. Atrus cannot accompany you to Riven himself, as he has to keep writing. He is desperately altering details of the Riven book in order to slow its deterioration. While this would perhaps imply that you only have a certain amount of time to rescue Catherine and get the heck out of Riven, this is only a plot element and has no effect on gameplay. Since Atrus cannot risk Gehn escaping from Riven, he unfortunately has to send the Stranger into the Age without a way out. The player thus has to find a way to signal Atrus once he has trapped Gehn and rescued Catherine, so that Atrus can come to the Age with a Linking Book to bring everyone back. Among various other elements uncovered throughout the game’s plot, the Stranger learns about the Star Fissure, a sort of portal found on the decaying Riven Age that leads – oddly enough – to the Stranger’s home of earth. This explains how the Myst book originally fell into the Stranger’s hands in the first place, and gives the Stranger a sense of hope: If he succeeds here, there’s a chance he can go home again.
There are three key goals that the player/Stranger needs to complete in order to complete the game: Rescue Catherine, trap Gehn, and find a way to signal Atrus. Care must be taken to ensure that these don’t happen in an improper order. In other words, Atrus shouldn’t be signaled before Catherine is free, otherwise the entire journey was meaningless. There are a few “bad” endings to the game that result from situations such as the one above. However, in the “good”, canon ending, the Stranger is able to successfully trick Gehn into using the trap book, thus capturing him and allowing the Stranger to free Catherine. In order to signal Atrus, the Stranger reopens the Star Fissure. Immediately after this, the entire Age begins to fall apart. Atrus quickly links to Riven with a Myst linking book in hand. Atrus and Catherine thank the Stranger for all his help, and Atrus tells him that by jumping into the Star Fissure, he should be able to get back home. Atrus and Catherine link back to their home on Myst – making sure the linking book falls into the Fissure when they’re done – and the Stranger leaps into the Star Fissure, hoping to find his way home again.
Riven: The Sequel to Myst has been re-released courtesy of Good Old Games (or GOG.com) for $5.99
- Only real feature is full compatability & support for Windows XP, Vista, and 7 for both 32 and 64-bit.
- Also features a downloadable manual in PDF format.
In addition to the PC and Mac, Riven has appeared on the Sega Saturn, the Sony PlayStation, and the Pocket PC. There is also a version of the game in development for the iPhone.
Virgins records released Riven: The Soundtrack, composed by Robyn Miller, on February 24, 1998.
|No.||Track Title||Length (53:59)|
|5.||Survey Island Theme||2:13|
|7.||Village Entrance Theme||2:33|
|12.||The Red Cave||1:54|