Riven review

by on June 24, 2024
Release Date

June 25, 2024


There’s no denying that both Myst and Riven: The Sequel to Myst are two of the most influential puzzle games of all time, and ever since the sequel released all the way back in 1997, it has inspired hundreds of developers all over the world. There’s a reason it was a massive hit when it came out at the tail-end of the 20th century, but a whole generation of gamers who may be more familiar with titles like The Witness have never jumped into this sprawling puzzle epic. Cyan worlds has recreated Riven from the ground up, remaking the classic for the modern age, doing a fantastic job in the process.

The story starts to unravel as you venture across the mysterious world of Riven as you search for Atrus’ wife Catherine. You learn about Atrus’ demented father Gehn, as well as local inhabitants known as the Moeity, all while Riven begins to crumble around you. It immerses you in its world with its architecture and its nature, drawing you in as you try to imprison Gehn and escape unscathed. The problem is, Riven doesn’t exactly aid you in your mission, with linking worlds filled with detailed and in-depth puzzles that push your brain to limits it has likely never been.

These linking worlds have hidden doorways and secrets all over the place, and much of the struggle comes from knowing where to go or what to do. Draw your own maps and make notes because there will be times when you lose your way. Before we get into the puzzles of Riven, the visuals are stunning. Made with Unreal Engine 5, the different locations within the world are fascinating to look at. Whether traipsing through lush jungles or across gorgeous beaches with wildlife co-existing with you, making your way through huge structures or sat upon the spherical air tram system, there is beauty wherever you look.

Cyan Worlds has created something magical, never failing to both put you at ease with its wonder and drive you mad with its intricate design. It can’t be stressed enough that you need to be dedicated to finding answers because Riven is designed to be difficult. You don’t just solve one puzzle and move on to the next. Many of the puzzles are layered, or require you to workout numerical patterns to be able to apply them elsewhere. You can move freely about the world, sometimes not even needing to solve a puzzle right then and there.

However, the best piece of advice I can give is: don’t rush through. Observe every inch of your surroundings and take your time. These conundrums aren’t going to be solved in an instant. They require your time and a little bit of luck every now and again, but everything is born from simple logical concepts. It’s going to be a great game to play with friends and family, where you can work together to come up with the solution, or bash your heads against the wall and take it in turns to blast motivational Ted Talks from your phone in an effort to never give up.

I spent so long on the first puzzle that involved a rotating room filled with golden scarabs, two doorways, and multiple switches. I started to try and guess how many times the room needed to be rotated, hoping that chance would help me find a solution. Guess work seldom helps in Riven. Instead, you must carefully plan every facet of your approach, grab a pen and paper, and take a deep breath. I found it so difficult at times that I had to keep having a break and going back the next day. It drove me mad, and while I like to think I’m pretty good with tough puzzle games, this is something else.

There will be those of you that find a lot of these challenges easier than others. Some players will fall off almost instantly. Others may last a bit longer. I cannot stress enough that despite this difficulty, Riven is still a phenomenal remake. Cyan Worlds respects the player, even if it doesn’t feel like it at times. It respects you because the answers are all around you, within the environment. Sometimes it might not be obvious, but there is always an answer if you look hard enough. If you’re willing to be patient, this is a heavily rewarding experience for you.

It can’t be stressed enough just how intelligent the puzzles are in Riven. It’s almost as if they’ve gone full-on Tolkien by creating their own language in the way the numerical system and culture of the island works. It’s fascinating just how well-made Riven is, but it is also not unfair to say it is hard. Unless you are willing to stay committed and patient, you’ll likely get bored early on. This isn’t your typical puzzle game, but it is a layered masterpiece for what many took inspiration from. It’s gorgeous, beautifully designed, and features an interesting story that continues to keep the mystery alive the further you go.


Gorgeous visuals and score
Intricately woven puzzles
Level design is fantastic


Some puzzles are tough
Not for the casual gamer

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

While Riven is difficult, Cyan Worlds has done a remarkable job remaking one of the most influential puzzle games of all time.