Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Riven for iPad [Cyan Worlds] - $5.99

For those of you familiar with gaming in the 90’s, or if you’re just into old(ish)-school games on the AppStore, Myst is one of the most memorable games from it’s era. It was also the best selling PC game of the 90’s. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Myst is a Point & Click/Puzzle Adventure game that puts you in the roll of The Stranger, a person sent to the island of Myst where it’s your job to find various books by traveling to different Ages, or worlds, slowly revealing the back-story of the game. Cyan Worlds has ported Myst as well as the newer realMyst - which is exactly like the original Myst, only played in 3D and opening the world for you to explore every little nook and cranny - to the iOS, and following suit, also released Riven, the sequel to Myst, back in 2010. Cyan Worlds has been hard at work, and has just released an iPad build of Riven, allowing players to experience this touch screen version on the bigger screen. 

Riven, just like the iPhone version, is a perfect port as far as gameplay is concerned, giving gamers the opportunity to pick up right where Myst left off, thrusting them into the slowly decaying Age of Riven. As you might have guessed, Riven for iPad also has quite a few enhancements that, as you might imagine, could not have been an easy task to accomplish. The iPad version of Riven includes high resolution images, improved music and effects and updated movies and animations. It also runs on all iPad devices, including the original iPad 1. 

There are a few options that you can adjust and change at any point in the game. You can change the transition speed from slow to fast, or turn it completely off, allow hints and show or hide the interface buttons. While I do remember Riven’s animations being a bit quicker than they are on the iDevice, you are also able to tap in the upper right corner to skip the longer ones if you so desire. This does help move the game along at a quicker pace, especially if you know what you’re doing. There is also a ‘Help’ section that takes you to Cyanworld’s website to view a quick tutorial. The hint system, like in Myst, is done through an online walkthrough, and can be very helpful if you ever get stuck. 

The puzzles, like in Myst, are usually multi-screen puzzles, requiring you to do something in one area and then another before being able to move on to the next area. One of the most frequent complaints I hear when discussing Myst with friends or online is that the puzzles usually make no sense and ‘how are you really suppose to know how in the world to do that without looking for help somewhere?’. While this may be the case with some, others who are willing to search every area for hints in the form of pictures and experiment with buttons and levers, the game’s unique type of puzzles will grow on you. While this sort of puzzle solving is not for everyone, it has definitely withstood the last 15 or so years (longer for the original Myst), and is considered by many to be one of the top Point & Click Puzzlers even now. 

Control-wise, everything is done with taps and swipes, with the game being made up of thousands upon thousands of still photos, moving forward can be done by tapping in the center of the screen while turning around and looking up or down can be done either by swiping anywhere on the screen in the opposite direction (swipe down to look up, left to turn right, ect), or tapping the edge of the screen in the direction you want to turn. 
The music and sound effects are great, and are encoded at a decent quality, allowing for players to become totally immersed in the world of Riven, especially while using headphones. The graphics and animations are also great, and although the game does show it’s age, the slight pixilation that happens during animations does not take anything away from the game. Given the size that Riven was originally made in (around 640x480), the scaling to fit the iPad screen looks great, but if you were hoping for a full 2048x1536 iPad Retina resolution, chances are you’ll be pretty disappointed. But, some great news is that the text is all very clear, and easy to read, so if you’ve been playing the iPhone version of Riven on your iPad, aside from the clearer graphics, this is probably the biggest thing you’ll notice. 

With the great reception that RealMyst received, having Myst playable in a full 3D world and being able to explore every little nook and cranny of the game, here’s hoping that the same can be done for Riven in the future. But as it is now, very reasonably priced at $5.99 and with all the enhancements it contains, it’s a great buy, especially for fans of the original, the Myst series and Point & Click games in general. If you’ve yet to experience Riven, you’re in for a real treat, and so long as you don’t go in expecting a fully open 3D world and high-resolution retina graphics, you could very well fall in love and knock other P&C titles down a notch on your favorites lists after getting into it. Cyan Worlds has done such a great job porting Riven over to the iDevice, and it’s very clear that a lot of care and passion has gone into the conversion to the touch screen. It’s definitely an easy game to recommend, even after all these years. 


There actually is a fan effort to recreate Riven as a realtime 3d game. It's called the Starry Expanse project, and they released a small demo at the end of 2012. There's also a Myst MMO (Uru) and there's a lot of momentum forming there to include player-created worlds in the next few months. The rights to make a movie based on the 'Myst' franchise have also been obtained by some successful producers in Hollywood and we'll see what, if anything, happens there.

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