Riven for iPad Review

Back in the day, when CD-ROMs were all the rage (that would be the ’90s) Cyan Worlds made a killing with their moody and atmospheric– if empty– adventure game Myst. Myst was an incredible sensation with its photo-realistic graphics, intriguing puzzles, and slide-show style navigation system. The sequel, Riven, was released to similar fanfare. It didn’t deviate much from the original’s slow-paced exploration and puzzles, but it was much larger.

Now available on the iPad, Riven feels more than a little like an out-of-place historical artifact. While the original game was a gorgeous picture show of creative locations, those graphics have aged significantly. The resolution of the iPad’s screen is far above that of the original PC version and the visuals now look grainy and muddy. The full motion video segments look positively awful as well.

Adding to the age is the navigation system. Simply tap forward or slide to turn and the game doesn’t scroll, it just throws up another still shot. The problem is that if you can’t go in a direction, it simply throws up the closest direction you can move in, which can get confusing. The jerky nature of movement in the game just doesn’t fit well in today’s world.

So, while Riven is still an atmospheric and engaging (if lonely) landscape, with some devilish puzzles, it’s also a world that requires the player to accept its limitations in order to enjoy. Cyan’s games were some of the original hidden object-style adventure games in a way, and it’s a genre that seems to endlessly flood the App Store. From that perspective, it’s worthwhile to check out where these current “adventures” came from, but it would have been far more interesting had Cyan actually taken the time to give Riven the update to new technology it deserves.

Riven was a decent and interesting game when first released many years ago, but even then this series had a lot of detractors since it relied most heavily on its atmosphere over game play design style. The puzzles are still intriguing, but there’s little to do other than wander around, find the right spot to tap or room to visit, and pull switches. This sort of game feels natural on the iPad, but with its shortcomings, it’s hard to recommend Riven to modern gamers.

  • http://twitter.com/manufracture D Schutz

    let’s not forget that Riven also takes up a huge chunk of space…just over a gig. that weighs in on my decision to buy: if space is low on my device, i may pass on an average game due to its file size.

  • Riku

    This is one of my favorite games of all time…

  • robweeve

    less a review than a boohoo session…the game was and is genius.

  • ImmortalWind

    You sir, must have been on drugs while “reviewing” this. Your whole “review” defines logic.

    Someone should shoot you for all the below statements:

    “Riven feels more than a little like an out-of-place historical artifact.”
    “those graphics have aged significantly.”
    “the visuals now look grainy and muddy. The full motion video segments look positively awful as well.”
    “The jerky nature of movement in the game just doesn’t fit well in today’s world.”
    “Cyan’s games were some of the original hidden object-style adventure games in a way,”
    “it would have been far more interesting had Cyan actually taken the time to give Riven the update to new technology it deserves”
    “there’s little to do other than wander around, find the right spot to
    tap or room to visit, and pull switches. This sort of game feels natural
    on the iPad, but with its shortcomings, it’s hard to recommend Riven to
    modern gamers.”

    I’m sorry you didn’t like the game, but this is JUST YOU. There are thousand of adventure gamers out there considering it STILL the BEST adventure game out there and STILL with the most realistic-breathtaking graphics ever created.

    I’m sorry, but that’s not just me who stands out of the crowd. It’s you who is the exception.