VR Gaming

Published on June 25th, 2024 | by Nay Clark

Riven Review (Quest)

Riven Review (Quest) Nay Clark

Summary: Riven is an island hopping puzzle adventure VR game that tells the age-old tale of forsaken prophecy while making you use all of your brain's power in the best possible ways.


Dome Spinning

An already riveting adventure comes into fruition through the lens of VR! Riven is a puzzle adventure game developed and published by Cyan Worlds, Inc. and released on June 24th of 2024 for Meta Quest 3 and Meta Quest 2. This virtual reality escapade is reimagined from the original Riven that released in 1997. Riven is a sequel to Myst and originally followed the same point and click design with beautifully detailed rendered environments to explore, but now through the expansive world of VR, the ability to completely be enveloped in this mysterious landscape has been fully realized. Venture into the Age of Riven to complete puzzles, find secret paths, and turn the next page of this engrossing saga.

Riven’s story continues immediately after the events of Myst. Atrus has the special ability to create “linking books” which act as portals to other worlds. He asks you to journey through one of these linking books to the Age of Riven. You are tasked to help Atrus’s wife, Catherine, and to be on the lookout for the self proclaimed ruler of the collapsing lands. After teleporting to the new realm, you will come across inexplicable structures, peculiar wildlife, and captivating riddles. This caper is anything but a leisure stroll through the park as you will realize that the precarious world that you have stepped into is a broken and torn down province that has been recklessly controlled by the imposing force of the tyrant and fake God, Gehn. The bewildering and secretive nature of how the story in Riven plays out makes each story moment impactful.

The gameplay in Riven is involving and imaginative. The game implores you to be observant and even allows you to take screenshots to keep in your journal of important details that you may think you might need for later on. You walk around the different islands while figuring your way around obstacles to continue your trek about your curious surroundings. You can interact with levers, push buttons, open doors, and peer through peep holes. Playing Riven in VR conducts the rhythm and interactivity in a fresh and inspiring way. Instead of using the computer’s mouse to click buttons on a static screen, you actually have to make the movement with your own hands. Flipping pages, climbing ladders, and riding underground carts while steadily unlocking more parts of the islands feels rewarding not only because you are accomplishing your goal, but tactilely as well. The game makes you embrace its unhurried momentum and helps convey the lore by making you pay attention to environmental storytelling and attributes written out in journals.

Being in VR isn’t the only thing distinct with this version of Riven. Some key environments are placed a bit differently to make more sense spatially in VR and lore wise. Certain puzzles have more layers to them and in some cases, are structured differently. Environments are now fully explorable and while making your way through them, you will conclude at how disparate from the original this version can be. Playing with the familiar while incorporating new bits of attention to specific areas of the layout of the game adds intrigue for players of the original while holding the attention of new fans.

Graphically, Riven is captivating. Mist eerily undulates the surface of the billowing sea. The iridescent glow of cavern mushrooms light up your way forward through dank enclosed spaces. The sheen of odd transmitters and foreign rotating machinery shine in a way that captures your attention and makes you want to tinker with the newly found apparatus. Since this version of Riven doesn’t include the full-motion videos of yesteryear, character models are fully modeled in 3D. The characters look splendid and I was impressed by the facial animations. Being able to showcase these technical feats in VR assists with the immersion even more.

Riven provides a rich soundscape that pulls you into its pages, cover to cover. The starchy sound of wooden bridges creaking and swaying at your feet, pressurized steam building up in pipes and finally being able to roar out into fresh air, and water trickling off of the tapering end of stalactites that echo throughout a darkened tunnel, produce an unwavering, purposeful, and confident atmosphere that is a bookmark to the games overall design. The tribal beats and deep sounding percussion makes it clear that you are a fish out of water while also relaying the importance of your visit to the islands and intensifying every next step you take into your exotic surroundings. The marvelous voice acting is believable and the candid performances deliver a moment of reprieve when you finally reach another soul that you are able to communicate with in some fashion.

Riven does have some small hitches and kinks that I ran into. The game did unfortunately close on me once, but it never hindered my progress. Riven can also be obstructed by long loading times, but that also could’ve been because I couldn’t wait to jump back into the game. Sometimes if you run too fast from place to place, the game won’t be able to keep up and the scenery won’t load correctly. Slowdown happens every now and then and small hiccups while strolling around are inevitable. I also experienced other characters of the world not properly standing or walking on solid ground and shifting through environmental objects. Despite the flaws that plague a lot of other games, the overall quality of Riven surmount any nick in the games framework.

Final Thoughts?

This is flat out the best VR game I have ever played. The mystifying world and involving gameplay gives context to everything as well as harks back to how well the original game was made. The game’s slow pace and spellbinding gameplay create an addicting factor to the overall experience that makes you appreciate every quick turn that you take. Riven is a VR game that actually feels like a world you are jumping into. The implementation of VR makes the game more interactive which in turn makes it even more immersive. Stepping into Riven is stepping into a perilous, fulfilling, and demanding adventure where your wandering imagination can go wild and your hard work and effort are immensely rewarded.

About the Author

Gaming holds a special place in my heart and I never stop talking about video games. I really love all types of games and have an interest in games that have complicated stories and lore because I enjoy untangling the mystery of it all. When I'm not gaming, I unsuccessfully try to control three amazing and incredibly bright kids.

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