After remaking Myst and bringing it to the wonderful world of virtual reality back in 2021, Cyan Worlds have now given its sequel Riven the same treatment, giving players the opportunity to unravel more cryptic yet brilliant puzzles across the game’s mysterious (and outright bizarre) world.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Listen, the plot of Riven is going to sound like complete nonsense if you’re unfamiliar with Myst, so bear that in mind before playing. It takes place in a time where special linking books act as portals to different worlds, with each world known as an Age. Led by the D’ni Atrus, players are sent to the Age of Riven as a means to save Atrus’ wife Catherine, who has been held captive by his manipulative father Gehn. This means solving a myriad of cryptic puzzles and uncovering the mysteries of your surroundings, with the ultimate goal being to trap Gehn within the void that exists between these different Ages to stop his scheming.

It’s enjoyable to play Riven without having any experience of Myst, but a lot of the intricacies of the plot will DEFINITELY go over your head. I haven’t played Myst through in its entirety in a long, long time so I was left confused by a lot of the plot details that have slipped my mind, but I was able to figure out enough as I went along to enjoy the storytelling. Just know that it is strange, surreal, and takes plenty of unusual turns, but if you enjoyed the storytelling of Myst, you’re sure to enjoy the tale Riven has to weave too.

Much like Cyan Worlds’ remake of Myst, Riven takes the pre-rendered screens from the original game and rebuilds them into a fully explorable 3D world. I never played Riven back in the day, so I didn’t appreciate this as much as some players will – however, I did have a massive sense of satisfying nostalgia when playing the Myst remake, so I can easily imagine how alluring this will be to returning gamers. It all looks wonderful and brings with it that perfect balance of creativity and peculiarity that the series is known for though, so even if you don’t have familiarity with the world, it’s still a treat to be a part of.

“It’s obtuse and demands both patience and careful observation from the player, but it’s also incredibly satisfying when you solve a puzzle and find yourself progressing further through the world.”

And, of course, the puzzling of the game is brilliant… you know… in that cryptic ‘I don’t know what I’m doing but probably will in a few hours’ kind of way. Much like Myst, Riven introduces a myriad of puzzles to solve and items to interact with that’ll leave you completely clueless as you play, but will slowly make more sense as you put the pieces together and scavenge your surroundings to see the differences that your actions have made. It’s obtuse and demands both patience and careful observation from the player, but it’s also incredibly satisfying when you solve a puzzle and find yourself progressing further through the world.

This does mean that a lot of time will be spent aimlessly wandering and not having a clue what to do though, which might not be for everyone. Riven leans very heavily on trial-and-error, and whilst there is some logic to be found in its puzzles, it’s very rare that you’ll figure it out straight away. It can be frustrating, especially when you’re having to backtrack to previous areas as a means of HOPING you find some little detail that you might have missed, so those who aren’t too familiar with the puzzling genre or don’t have the patience to figure things out might want to skip on this one.

But when the pieces of a puzzle do come into place? It feels so good and motivates you to push that bit further through the game. I found myself wholly engrossed in experimenting with everything I came across to find a rhyme and reason to the changes that they made in my surroundings, whilst being able to interact with items in varying ways always kept me engrossed in the world. And hey, there are even some puzzles where the solution IS actually pretty obvious… you’ve just got to put the work in to get to the bottom of it. There’s no doubting that Riven is a challenging experience, but it’s also one that’s tantalisingly satisfying to play – even IF there’s a lot of head-scratching and aimless wandering to go along with those more fulfilling moments.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Oh, and for you returning players who remember the solutions to all of the puzzles? A lot of puzzles have been modified this time around, so you won’t be able to use your memory to bypass the challenge of the experience.  

Whilst I certainly enjoyed my time playing Riven, it should be noted that it does come with some issues when playing in virtual reality. For one, the lack of note-taking is a massive frustration when playing, especially with the nature of puzzles that often demand you to write down and compare details in order to figure out the solution. It was a problem I faced when playing Myst in virtual reality too, and whilst they introduced a feature to take screenshots to track puzzles (something that is also featured here), it’s nowhere near as effective as jotting things down. You can lift the headset up slightly to take notes if you like (and playing on the Meta Quest 3 with the more detailed and colour passthrough camera can help this), but it’s completely immersion-breaking and deters from the overall experience.

The visuals on the Meta Quest 3 were a little disappointing too, with some low-resolution textures and visual pop-in taking the shine away from some of Riven’s excellent environmental design. Whilst I understand sacrifices are often made in the transition to virtual reality, the lack of depth and detail here feels more noticeable given that a lot of the puzzle design revolves around noticing the little differences you make in the world with your actions. It’s a real shame, and since I know that the Meta Quest 3 is capable of offering impressive visuals, it’s hard not to feel underwhelmed that Riven doesn’t take more advantage of its capabilities. Add to that some long loading times and it’ll be clear that the game could have done with a bit more optimisation.

Riven Review

Riven offers a tantalising puzzling experience that has stood the test of time, but some sacrifices have been made to make it playable on the Meta Quest 3. Between some low-resolution textures, the visual pop-in, and long load times, it’s clear it could have done with a bit more optimisation before release, whilst the lack of proper note-taking does make some puzzles harder to solve.

Does it make Riven bad to play on the Meta Quest 3? Definitely not, and it didn’t stop me from enjoying solving its cryptic yet expertly crafted puzzles or uncovering the secrets of its mysterious yet alluring world. It’s just far from perfect in virtual reality, and whilst it definitely offers a viable and entertaining way to experience this classic adventure, there’s no doubting that it’ll bring with it some frustrations too.

Developer: Cyan Worlds
Publisher: Cyan Worlds
Platform(s): Meta Quest 3 (Reviewed), Meta Quest 2, PC, PC VR