The good news is that I come to Riven, and for that matter the entire Myst universe, with fresh eyes. I didn't grow up as a PC gamer, but I was always envious of friends who hibernated for weeks on end, only surfacing to espouse the virtues of Myst. With its equally-praised followup Riven now an iOS download, I eagerly threw my hat into the ring.
In promoting their iPad release, Cyan Worlds promised, "higher quality images, movies, animations, and sounds," and as a newbie to Riven, I was immediately impressed with its graphics. Since much of the adventure consists of solving puzzles through the use of books, a little common sense, and a healthy share of luck, the images must pop on the iPad. I've spent hours on Riven blindly opening hidden doors, misusing levers, and climbing up the wrong ladders, and if it wasn't for the beautiful pictures, I'd go a little stir crazy at my inferior mystery-solving genes.
The plotline is a continuation of the Stranger's journey, as he is sent to free Catherine, Atrus' wife, from the clutches of his father Gehn. There are linking books which open doors to different worlds and it's up to the Stranger to keep Gehn imprisoned in Riven no matter what the cost.
Obviously, Riven will take hours to complete. And for iPad users new to the experience, an in-depth help menu is easily accessible. For gamers who plan on taking an even quicker shortcut to their goals, a Riven hint guide is also linked to the menu. As the help guide suggests, Riven is aimed to, "draw you in and become your world." Although I've solved several puzzles on my journey, the hours I've spent transfixed to the point of blissful inertia is, dare I say it, countless.
One of the biggest puzzles you'll need to solve comes from downloading the game. Although it currently takes up 1.9 GB on the iPad, you must clear up even more memory for the actual downloading process. Set aside ample time for the Riven download. Once I made my App Store purchase, I drove ten minutes to my local market, walked over to Starbucks, and headed back home. Lo and behold, Riven was not even close to being finished!
Since it's a well-established game, Riven's deepest secrets can be uncovered through any YouTube walkthrough or scouring the help menu for answers. The joy, at least for me, is the actual journey and exploration of Riven. Whether or not the Stranger accomplishes his quest under my watch is not my number one goal. Whether it's aimlessly navigating a contraption underwater or sneaking in through a huge fan, smack-dab in the middle of a cave, I will slowly connect all the dots.
Riven was first released in 1997, but thanks to the stunning visuals and cerebral gameplay, it remains a superior title in 2013. The point-and-click system may have been replaced by today's touch-and-tap generation, but the song remains the same. Riven, a game draped in riddles and abstractions, is unforgettable.
App Store Link: Riven for iPad for iPad | By Cyan Worlds, Inc. | Price: $5.99 | Version: 1.0.16 | 1.8 GB | Rating 12+