As with the tablet edition of realMyst, released back in August last year, the release of Riven for iPad brings with it world of mystery, intrigue, exploration and puzzle solving that's unparalleled outside of the Myst universe. Picking up where the first game left off, you find yourself stranded in a different world in search of portal books, the imprisoned Catherine, and your own way home. Like Myst, this is a world that requires delicate and detailed exploration, and a keen eye for drawing together disparate strands of logic to solve a larger puzzle.
Unlike realMyst, this tablet edition of Riven is not a game that you can freely wander around in. Exploration is limited to gentle screen taps in the direction you wish to travel, while the game transitions between these static, first-person screens. It's far from a lifeless world, however, with real-life actors interacting seamlessly with you during movie scenes, and mechanical objects roaring into life with the pull of a lever. Riven might be very different to what most developers wish to achieve with tablet hardware these days, but in atmosphere and imagination Riven's as effective as any 3D world.
It's also a game that is uncompromising in its challenge, and while the developers have included a hint website that you can easily dip in and out of during gameplay, you'd be doing yourself a huge disservice by leaning too heavily on it. This is, after all, a game that actively encourages you to keep a physical journal of what you discover as you explore the islands of Riven. Insight into mysterious wall scribblings can arise when you're outside of the game's immediate context, and mechanical oddities provide an abundance of light, yet essential, information required to solve future problems.
In a nod to the less patient sensibilities of gaming in 2013, this tablet edition of Riven comes with a hint system that highlights notable on-screen objects if needed. The purists may choke at the thought, but as a comparatively pricey app at $5.99, it's a fair concession to those who might otherwise give up on what can at times be a startling challenge. Be reassured though that this hint system can be turned off completely, set to hover into view after a certain period of inactivity, or only activated with a vigorous shake of your iPad.
Riven for iPad is everything the game was in 1997, but more. The tactile nature of touchscreen gaming adds a degree of inquisitive immersion that a mouse and keyboard can't. The sharpened artwork, music and movies of the game also represent a fresh breath of life for this aging adventure game. It might represent a sharp change of pace for traditional tablet gaming, but if you're prepared to give a lot of yourself to Riven, your reward is to be lost in a world of unparalleled intrigue and exploration.
What's Hot:An unrivaled adventure game experience that's as intriguing as it is challenging. The improvements made to the game's artwork, music and movies are outstanding.
What's Not:The price is a little off-putting, even for a game of Riven's caliber, and we can't help but wish for a fully explorable world.