Riven Review – The ultimate final form of an epic classic

Reviewed June 25, 2024 on PC


PC, Oculus, Mac


June 25, 2024


Cyan Worlds, Inc.


Cyan Worlds, Inc.

The original Riven (1997) was an epic follow-up to the seminal early 90’s point-and-click adventure game Myst. Shipping on no less than five compact discs back in the day it was a massive release, and turned out to be one of the most highly anticipated and biggest-selling games of the year.

Keeping in line with the presentation of Myst, it was a collection of CG screens the player clicked through as they solved puzzles and worked their way through the narrative. It took everything great about Myst but made it bigger and better in almost every way. Following on from the 2020 Myst Remake, now it’s Riven’s turn to get the full-on ground-up remake treatment, turning the title into a full 3D free-roam experience. But how does a game with such a unique design and feel translate into a real-time experience?

Following on from the events of Myst, we encounter Atrus once more, but this time we are being sent to a collapsing age called Riven. Catherine, Atrus’ wife, has been captured by his evil father Gehn. Our mission is straightforward on the surface: capture Gehn in a Prison Book Atrus has written, free Catherine, and then figure out how to signal Atrus so he can come to the rescue and get us out of there.

Atrus provides us with a book, he says that it should contain all the information we need to know and off we go on our possible one-way journey. From the moment we set foot in this new world, we will need to find our own way around, exploring the different islands on Riven. Using our intellect and intuition we shall discover the truth about this troubled land and connect the dots along the way to solve puzzles and (hopefully) complete our mission.

I played the original Riven not long ago and it is still a stunningly ambitious game even by today’s standards, a true blockbuster of an experience. It holds up far better than the original Myst both visually and in the gameplay department. Its style was so unique and the world so engaging I wondered how it would translate into a fully roamable environment.

Fortunately, Cyan Worlds has done an excellent job; the Riven remake is a gorgeous game. Built from the ground up they have managed to translate the style and quality of the still CG images from the original into a fully-fledged world to explore. This is the ultimate final form of Riven for sure and definitely the type of game Cyan would have delivered back in the day if they had the technology to do so.

The locations are all pretty much carbon copies of the original so many points of interest will be familiar to returning players, who will be able to navigate their way around with ease. For gamers new to Riven though, I wish I could see it through fresh eyes like they will because it is going to be a treat for sure. For gamers who like first-person puzzle games, this is definitely one of the best looking out there.

Riven, like Myst before it, is all about exploration and observation. You can make your way around most of the islands from the moment you step into this strange world. The trick is to take your time, and observe everything; if you find a switch, press it and see what happens. If you see something that looks strange and interesting, check it out. If you feel like you are stuck and cannot figure something out, just move on, and chances are the answers will become clear later.

One of the cool things about this series is that it doesn’t really matter what order you do things in. Just feel free to roam around and soak in everything this world has to offer. On the puzzle side, in the original, there were more than a few that were true head-scratchers and nigh-on impossible to figure out without a helping hand. Whilst there may be one or two here that will stump the average player, overall they are logical and with some patience and thinking most are solvable on your own.

Whilst the locations are the same as in the original, many of the puzzles have been updated, modernised, tweaked, or changed. This means that if you are a seasoned Riven player thinking you will blast through this remake based on knowledge from previous play-throughs, you are in for a surprise.

The updated puzzles and approach are another highlight of the Riven remake and just show the amount of thought and effort that has gone into this production. There were a couple of moments where it felt like the developer knew that returning Riven fans would be into the remake and popped in little tricks. If you approach some puzzles the same way as you used to back in the day the outcome can be interesting. This is a really nice, thoughtful touch.

This also means that even seasoned players will get to enjoy figuring out the puzzles all over again, almost like they did the first time around, which makes it much more fun than just a carbon copy remake. This instantly puts it head and shoulders above the Myst Remake from a few years ago because that one more or less was exactly the same as the original. Here, Riven feels like a brand new experience in a world that I adore.

I will say though, as much as I love the world of Riven, there will be moments where you’ll need to track back and forth between areas to remind yourself of something, which can take some time and throw off the pacing a bit.

Another thing that has changed is that the original FMV actors have been replaced with in-game characters in this version. I always thought the acting in the original was excellent, so I initially thought this was a bit of a shame. However I understand that the original footage just wasn’t of a high enough resolution to fit into the new game and also would not have worked given the player can now swivel the camera around, so it’s a necessary cut.

On a positive note though, they engaged the original voice actor for Atrus; in relation to Gehn, unfortunately, the actor passed away a few years ago but they used his audio from the original game which was another nice touch here. Another highlight of the original was the soundtrack and atmospherics which is present here as well, so despite being an entirely new game, the feel is intact.




  • Wonderfully recreated world of Riven
  • Updated puzzles help make it feel like a new experience
  • Epic soundtrack holds down the atmosphere
  • A new opportunity to play an absolute classic


  • Back and forth travel can impact the pacing
  • Some puzzles will still stump the average player

Overall the remake of Riven is an excellent effort on all fronts. The original Riven was already an exceptionally high quality title that is still playable even today. This new ground-up remake takes that epic title and introduces it to a new generation. This is definitely its final form and stands on its own as an excellent release. I highly recommend it, not just to fans of the original but to any gamer who enjoys puzzle games.