Riven: The Sequel to Myst
Warning: This writeup contains some minor spoilers for both Myst and Riven.
Riven uses the same basic UI as Myst but takes the graphics and plot to a whole new level. The key parts of the simple Myst interface remain exactly the same: prerendered ray traced images with clickable areas for interaction, simple inventory and item examination system, and QuickTime movies to give the images life and depth. The graphics, on the other hand, go from a sometimes monotonous 8-bit color palette to 16-bit with vastly more detailed textures, environment, and movies. The plot is also more expansive and compelling. The graphics seem a bit rough by today's 3D-card standards, but for those of us lacking the twitch reflexes needed for FPS games, it's still a beautiful, relaxing, and enjoyable way to spend some time in the evenings for while.
I won't go into too much detail about this because, many other sites do a much better job of it, and I think half the fun of these games is wandering around trying to understand the world you find yourself "in" from the perspective of the person (or culture) of those inhabiting it. If you disagree, do a search for "Riven walkthrough", and read all you want, including solutions to the puzzles if you like. If not, let me give you the basics, which you'll discover in the first few minutes of the game anyway.
Riven picks up where Myst left off, with Atrus being moderately cryptic because he can't stop to talk - he's got to keep writing. He hands you two books, one explains a few plot details, including why he needs to keep writing, the other is a Prison Linking Book, in which you're supposed to trap his egomaniacal father, Gehn. He also asks you to rescue his wife, Catherine. He then sends you through a static filled linking book image to Riven.
On arrival you're immediately trapped in cage. Thanks, Atrus. A hostile native quickly takes the linking book from you, but even he doesn't get any where with it. Some masked figure knocks him out with a blow dart, takes the book, stops long enough to free you, and flees. Sigh. You'll need to get that book back eventually. In the meanwhile, step out of your cage and turn right. Here you have one of the prettiest vistas you'll ever see in a computer game until you get a copy of realMyst or Morrowind.
Go, explore, enjoy.
Some people find Riven's puzzles easy, others find them difficult. Riven has logic puzzles, visual puzzles, even one puzzle based on sounds. Several puzzles have clues spread out over distant areas of the game. Be prepared to wonder around and ponder. If you want to really get into the game, keep a notebook of sketches and ideas you think of as you look around. The game designers obviously wanted you to - they even included a blank booklet in the version I bought.
(Now Laughable) System Requirements
- Windows 95 (or later) required
- 100 MHz Pentium or faster
- 16 MB RAM
- Minimum 75 MB hard disk space
- CD-ROM drive (4X or faster) or DVD-ROM drive
- 640x480 display, High Color
- Windows compatible sound device
- Video and sound cards compatible with DirectX
Patch available at http://support.ubi.com/patches.php.
When Riven came out over five years ago it taxed the requirements of many computer systems. For its time, it held an unbelievable 5 CDs full of graphics and sound. To mitigate this, Cyan offered several install options, including a "Full Install" feature which would install the entrire game (over 2GB!) on your hard drive. Considering the total drive space on my machine came to 4GB, I never tried this, and now when I could try it on my 35GB drive, they've removed it. Sucky.
They also came out with a DVD-ROM version, one of the few PC games I can remember ever doing so. If you plan to play this game, and you have a DVD-ROM drive, I strongly advise paying the extra money to get the DVD. Nothing breaks a game's immersiveness like a dialog box asking you to "Insert Disc 3".