Riven comes a' tap-tap-tapping at your door
The highly anticipated sequel to the best selling CD ROM of all time has arrived, and without any disappointment, because Riven simply kicks butt. Cyan and RedOrb teamed up to make what I think is the best game ever. Better puzzles, better graphics, better sounds, music, ideas, landscapes... everything about the game is terrific. An absolute monument and triumph in the gaming industry.
The graphics are simply awesome. We can hardly expect the makers of Myst to come out with anything but great graphics, but they've outdone themselves. Now I know why it took so long. You can see the hours, weeks, and months the developers must have poured in to putting together the marvelous, jaw-dropping landscapes and details. 'Beauty' just doesn't explain it. The worlds are packed with minute details such as little bugs crawling around, stones on the floor, and other random objects that you might find walking around anywhere. And do you remember transporting through those books in the game Myst? Not anymore, you get a roller coaster ride and a half if you want to get from island to island on Riven! If you want to experience it, go buy the game, you won't regret it!
Sounds are just as impressive. Realistic as you can get, they definitely add to the mood and contribute greatly when drawing you into the game and making you believe you are really walking around. Just as the manual recommends, I strongly suggest you either get a really good pair of speakers or a good pair of headphones, sound is not something you want to skimp on.
All you who have played Myst know that music wasn't included. I agree with the designers not putting music in Riven as well. If you're walking around on an island, there isn't going to be some random music playing in the background, but instead birds twirping in the air, bugs flying around, and wind whistling across the land. If you must have music, simply choose your favorite CD. Much better than the repetitive themes you soon tire of in other games.
I'm not going to foil the plot for you, but I can safely say that much like Myst, you basically start out with no information of where you are, what you're supposed to do, how you're supposed to do anything or where to start. This made the game all the more challenging, intriguing and addicting. The adventure itself is fun, mysterious and very entertaining. The biggest improvement (this goes for the entire genre) definitely goes to the type of puzzle in Riven. Sure, it is a puzzle game, but the puzzles were disguised or smoothly mixed into the environment, and not as "concrete" or noticeable as most games. For example, in 7th Guest, you would walk into the bathroom, and WHOA!!! all of a sudden, the floor changes and you see a bunch of chess pieces that you must rearrange in a certain order. Riven is much more subtle and natural. If you really liked the blatant setup of 7th Guest or Shivers II and didn't like the abstract nature of Myst, you might not like this approach. But Riven is a MUST for all Myst-lovers (like me).
I've also heard complaints in the past that Myst was a little too easy for some people. Well, this adventure has the ability to stump any puzzle genius. Solving them will take time and intelligence and you won't be held up because you didn't notice the stupid, 3-pixel wide switch at the bottom left hand corner of the screen that made you spend 2 hours walking around wondering what the hell do to next!
My final word: this game is a masterpiece and is worth every single penny. If you've been excitedly waiting for Riven, never fear, you'll love it. This game has proved itself in all aspects, the only way someone could not like it is because it's too intellectually challenging, or they simply don't like these types of games (absolutely, positively not for 1st-person-shooter-only gamers). Oh, and one more thing, if you haven't played Myst and are intrigued by this review, definitely go out and buy Myst before you play this game. Don't cheat yourself out of the previous portion of this continuing adventure.
Cyan and Redorb... outstanding job, it was well worth the wait!!!