Riven: A Video Game Classic

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When Cyan made Myst in 1993, they never suspected how groundbreaking the game would be. The PC game was the first of its kind: the images were stunningly realistic, and it allowed you to explore worlds without an abundance of silly interuptions such as hunting down enemies or being hunted. The whole concept of such a game lead it to a huge success.

This is why a sequal was absolutely necessary. The game was a huge hit, and the entire Cyan Team had left the door open for a new game by, at the end of Myst, leaving the player stranded on the island. Cyan had more money, better software, and now, a great deal of fan appeal. With this, they were able to create a bigger, more complex, more entertaining video game.

The Plot

There are things you need to know about the world of Riven and Myst. First of all, appearantly, there are a huge amount of other worlds. These worlds are called Ages. Secondly, these can all be accessed through books with portals in them. Some books are written as the master guides to the worlds, while others are written as portals, called Linking Books, with plenty of cross-referances to the original books.When the Master Books are written, it appears as though the author has created the world, when in reality it is simply referring to a world that already exists somewhere in the multiverse.

Where Myst Leaves You

After touching the picture in a mysterious book you find, you become stranded on an island, called Myst, with little explanation. You discover two brothers trapped inside red and blue books. Both of them want you to free them, and so you go through worlds, retrieving pages lost from their books. However, you discover their father's story. Their father, Atrus, has recently had most of his books destroyed, and his sons are held suspect. After several suspicious messages from the two sons, you finally find Atrus, who is trapped in a world called D'niIn Myst's credits the world is spelled as it is pronounced: Dunny. The correct spelling is D'ni.. You free him, and he traps his sons once and for all by burning the books. He thanks you for freeing him, but he has no idea how to get you home. He is also closely attending a certain book, and mentions his dangerous father and his kidnapped wife, Catherine.

Clues from the Books

The Book of Atrus was one of three books written and based upon the Myst seriesThe books were written in the 4 years between the release of Myst and Riven, and the other two books explain the history of D'ni and what happens to Atrus after the events seen in Riven.. It explains just who Catherine and Atrus' father are, as well as how you could have possibly found yourslef on Myst. Appearantly, Atrus' ruthless father, Gehn, is one of the last of an ancient, deceased civilization called D'ni. He is familiar with the art of writing books that link to other worlds, and creates worlds simply so that he can rule them. His worlds are unstable because of his poor writing, and collapse.

Gehn and his son, Atrus, become angered at eachother, and Gehn traps Atrus in a caved-in room in D'ni containing one sole item, the Master Book to one of Gehn's favorite ages, Riven.The Room is explained in the second book to have been a manshion on an island in D'ni called K'veer. Using it, he goes to Riven and meets Catherine, a native to Riven, and falls in love with her. Atrus, in order to trap Gehn on the island, teams up with Catherine to steal away all of the Master and Linking Books on the island. This way, Gehn cannot access D'ni and corrupt world again.

There comes a problem. In order to steal all of the books, Atrus must find a way to dispose of the final book which he uses to link out of the world. Luckily, he discovers one of the elements of the Age's collapse, a mysterious bottomless pit called the Star Fissure. He jumps in, along with the book, and links out of the world, letting the book dissappear.

At this point in the book, you read the lines from the opening sequence of Myst. In the sequence you see a man and a book falling through space; the man disappears, but the book falls until it reaches you. You realize that the linking book to Myst is somehow transported from Riven to Earth through the Star-Fissure, and that's how you got to Myst.


This knowledge in hand, the plot to Riven begins. You discover that the book Atrus has so attentively been writing was really the master book of Riven, and that this room was where Gehn had trapped him once before. Atrus is struggling to keep Riven from collapsing before its inhabitants can escape the world. His wife, Catherine, being a native to Riven, had gone there to help them, and had been captured.

You are the only other person on the island of Myst. Atrus asks you the favor of rescuing his wife while he stays behind to write in order to keep the age alive. Tells you that you must signal him to come when the time is right to retrieve Catherine, and you must absolutely capture Gehn using a Trap-Book.

Your reward for this task? If all goes according to plan, you will be able to return home using the Star Fissure. When Atrus finishes briefing you, you are sent to Riven.

Game Interface

One of the most annoying elements of the entire game would have to be the Multiple-CD system. The game is so huge that it takes multiple CD-Roms to access the entire game.It does not take multiple CD-Roms on the recently released DVD version of the game.

When playing the game, your cursor becomes your hand. Depending on where you click, you will turn certain directions, move certain directions, and touch or move whatever is under your hand. You can also click on one of your books, which you keep with you.There are also multiple books you cannot pick up, such as Gehn's journal and linking books.

The books you keep are Atrus' journal, a useful read, and Gehn's trapbook. It works much like the book that of Sirius' sons, except that the image on it looks like D'ni. It is made that way as to trick Gehn into going into it. Eventually you also run across Catherine's journal, which is also a useful read explaining the Star Fissure and how to open the portal.

At times, you run across different characters. Some are simple natives of Riven who fear you and your funny clothes. Some are Gehn's agents, others are agents of Catherine's secret group called the Moiety, who are helping the villagers escape. You run across a variety of animals, including the Whark, a large, tusked whale which the villagers worship.

You go from island to island, each one containing its own set of puzzles and its own purpose. Plenty of machinery, some ridiculously complex as to provide a puzzleWell, after all, who needs five domes with symbols on them that correspond to colors for a set of marbles which you must correctly place to power up the linking books inside in order to find Gehn?, litters the five islands. In the game you must locate an abundance of switches as to give you access to different parts of the island. You even have to learn to interpret D'ni numbersThis involves visiting a school with a very cruel game in which, depending on the number randomly drawn, you have to slowly lower a dummy on a string a certain number of nitches into the mouth of a monster..

Should I Play Riven?

Riven is not for everyone. Those with a short attention span will definately not want to play this game, which lasts ages. It addicts you, but many agree, this game was amazingly hard.Myst 3: Exile is also commented on being too easy.

Nonetheless, it is a great adventure. The stunning graphics make the once-called photorealistic graphics of Myst seem stupid. Music and sound is also well improved with the help of Robyn Miller and Tim LarkinRobyn Miller resigned after Myst, making Time Larkin the official music director.. Every moment of the game is unforgetable, and many of the puzzles in the game are unmatched by others.

This game is an experiance which shall not only dazzle you, but take your logic to a new level. It is this which has made it a classic, and shall keep its glory alive for years to come.

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