Riven Review - Islands of Adventure

We review the remake of Riven - a beautiful new imagining of the classic puzzle game and a worthy continuation to the legacy of the Myst series.

Published: June 24, 2024 10:00 AM /

Reviewed By:

Riven Key Art

With the success of 2020’s Myst remake, it was only a matter of time before its sequel, Riven, saw a similar treatment. Thus, we have four years later, the newly updated version of Riven that promises to be more than just a flashy graphics upgrade.

As I outlined in my original preview for Riven, there have been some subtle changes here and there – although from my personal perspective as someone who never played the original, I would be going in fresh regardless. That said, for those well-versed in the series, it’s something to keep in mind going in.

The way Riven begins is loaded with a mystery of sorts. You’re immediately faced with a man named Atrus, who gives you some sort of important book. After that you’re whisked away, stuffed in a jail, have had your book stolen by an indecipherable stranger, before being let loose on the rockery of some island.

From there the story becomes embedded in the environment around you, and it’s from the beginning and through exploration and puzzle solving that the main goal becomes clear: free Atrus’ wife Catherine, and capture Gehn, the one who imprisoned her.

Riven Screenshot

The premise is simple enough, and a lot of the surrounding flavor text is uncovered in things like your journal, as well as the observation of each unique environment.

Riven takes place on a series of islands, the Age of Riven, that you’ll need to traverse in order to get to the final conclusion. Each one is fairly unique in that you’re never really encountering the same place twice. From the gold dome topped island you wake up on, to a jungle island, and even a prison, the variety of location is a place Riven excels at.

I found a good chunk of my play time was spent just admiring each environment. Because that’s what you do in Riven, you’re encouraged to explore everything to avoid missing out on some important detail you might need later on in your explorations.

The 3D, fully rendered environments are lovingly detailed, from cliffsides, sand, rocks, metal material, foliage, and water, it’s clear there was a lot of love in the transition to a modern version of Riven.

Along each island, you’ll come in contact with puzzles of different varieties. There’s going to be trial and error to get through doors, across bridges, and solving smaller puzzles using symbols found in places like a village.

Riven 02

Gameplay is simple, involving pointing and clicking (even on controller), and moving things like levers, pressing buttons, and other objects. There’s even a few options to take in-game screenshots that go to your journal, as well as a one-button easy-access satchel to store inventory.

It’s all very detail-oriented, and there are even some aspects that don’t always lead to anything meaningful and that’s okay. One thing in particular that I found enjoyable was being able to move to the next island without completing everything as I went.

That element of freedom gives Riven a zen-like feeling. When you’re not looking around for artifacts and puzzles related to them, the lack of urgency in the game world creates a quiet beauty and plenty of immersion, even if there are a few people hidden around.

The puzzles themselves do offer a lot of critical thinking, and there were a lot of times when I was playing through Riven that I felt like I was second-guessing myself. Being able to roam around back and forth is certainly helpful, and ultimately, I felt that some of the trickier puzzles did instill a sense of accomplishment.

Riven Screenshot

There’s not really any set difficulty level in Riven – it’s as hard as you make it on yourself really – but paying attention is a big part of it. The majority of these puzzles stem from smaller ones that must be solved first, along with gathering clues from out in the world. That said, it can get frustrating when some of them feel like there are not enough hints on what to do, and the lack of direction doesn't always make sense leading to a lot of aimless wandering back and forth.

As I said, I never played the original Riven, or Myst for that matter, so despite all that, I did find it interesting trying to wrap my head around all the little lore pieces scattered around to discover.

A lot of it is visual, like little windows you peek through to see some historical depictions and other times, there are books you can read with more direct information.

The element of choice also comes to Riven in a big way. Certain choices, without going into direct spoilers, can produce different outcomes. So much so that Riven does in fact have bad endings you can end up in if you make what might be considered to be the wrong decision.

Riven’s status as a remake lends itself to its solid performance. Cyan’s choice to develop on Unreal Engine 5 is here in full force with smooth performance without sacrificing visual fidelity – not that there’s a ton going on to really push the game, but it’s a solid experience regardless.

Riven Screenshot

Riven's music is pleasant enough, and I was glad to see some voice acting for the minimal character interaction that does exist. The characters, such as Gehn and finding out his story was one of the major draws for me during my playthrough.

Overall, this new version of Riven is plenty appealing, even if you’re just looking for a low-stakes puzzle game to chip away at. The point-and-click gameplay, along with the lack of any real information dumps or dialogue makes it approachable in a way that was unexpected to me.

While some of the puzzles are challenging and not always clear, I think the overall presentation, and being to explore the detailed environments without any real learning curve, shows that Riven can be enjoyed by anyone, even if they haven’t played the original version or even the previous game Myst.

Having dipped my toes into the world of Riven, I now want to go back and experience the beginnings for myself. Then after that, maybe revisit Riven for a different perspective. Riven feels like a game with a good amount of replay value, and I’m plenty keen to put that to the test.

TechRaptor reviewed Riven on PC with a code provided by the developer over roughly 10 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were captured during the process of review.

Review Summary

The new version of Riven is a beautiful addition to the Myst series with addition to detail in its fully rendered environments, and plenty of exploration to be had despite some obscure puzzles. (Review Policy)


  • Beautifully rendered 3D environments
  • A wealth of accessibility options
  • A compelling, newcomer-friendly experience and story
  • Plenty of exploration and terrain variety


  • Some puzzles feel too obscure
  • Lack of direction can feel tedious

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| Staff Writer
Erren is a staff writer for TechRaptor whose writing experience stems from years of helming Nova Crystallis – a website dedicated to everything Square Enix… More about Erren