Due to an ancient witch’s curse, Myst, officially the worst game ever made, will never go away. Further proof of this affliction is that original creator Cyan Worlds has just announced it’s remaking Myst’s almost-as-awful sequel, Riven. So if you love randomly flipping levers between sitting through the most dreadful am-dram FMV acting you’ve ever seen, are you in for a treat!
Myst was a “game” about entering magical books, and then being told a story about some guy, and his two sons, and how they—mumble mumble—trapped in the books the end. I’m being generous here. In reality, it was about solving a series of implausible puzzles with no direction beyond random guessing, while reading interminably abysmal books and notes and messages. 1997's Riven, which was released with the unimprovable name, “Riven: The Sequel To Myst,” is all about rescuing a poor helpless lady called Catherine from the world of Riven, while, you know, solving implausible puzzles with no direction...
This is to be a brand new, modern remake, freeing the game of its original static views and prescribed movement, replaced with free movement and, inevitably (but not yet announced) VR options. However, developers Cyan are being very cagey with information beyond that it exists at this point.
It’s important not to get too carried away slagging off Myst, because it does have an awful lot of fans. Wait, sorry, I typed that wrong. It has a lot of awful fans. People who treat conflating novelty for quality as a religious covenant, and pretend that every single element of a game being objectively terrible is actually a good thing. It’s “world-building,” you see.
However, rather brilliantly, while crawling along with the weight of a Myst-shaped cross on their backs, they’ll also say, “Well, sure, but Riven was even better.”
People, Riven wasn’t even better. It was just some more. Which is to say, if Myst was some badly cut heroin, then Riven was some more badly cut heroin but now given to a heroin addict. Now, 25 years later, there’s the hope that the same strung-out people who’ve survived will fancy a relapse...Ow! Get off! CAROLYN, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
Hi everyone, I’m really sorry about that. This is Carolyn Petit here now. John’s...well, John’s having a rest, in the corner, until the ambulance gets here.
You know what? Myst was actually an astounding immersive masterpiece, one that absolutely told you everything you needed to know to solve its puzzles (contrary to what John said) and made doing so immensely satisfying. Riven, in my opinion, didn’t reach the heights of its predecessor, but they were both brave, bold games, with stunning visual design that offered up captivating worlds unlike any games had given us before.
Notably, both also demonstrated, just as great 3D FPS games like Doom were becoming all the rage, that games could be as wonderful for giving us tranquil, beautiful worlds and cerebral gameplay as they could be for giving us violent hellscapes and satisfying shotguns. Technologically noteworthy as well, they pushed pre-rendered graphics in directions we’d never seen before, while using the sudden expanse of space offered by CD-ROMs to let us see full-motion video acting within these fantasy worlds. This was pivotal in mid-90s video games, inspiring generations to come, while being at the cutting edge of what our fledgling PCs could do.
To see this remade today, with the freedom of modern computing, adding the ability to move freely around these fondly remembered worlds, is...well, let’s say I’m cautiously optimistic. As significant as Riven was, it was to some degree the context of the time and place in which it came out that made it seem so extraordinary. I’m not entirely sure that things like free movement (or, as John says, potentially VR functionality) can really make Riven feel great today. However, I’m hopeful that perhaps such an update will help Riven captivate at least some folks who weren’t around to experience it back when it was originally released.
There are no words yet on which platforms this will be released for, but if it’s anything like 2021's Myst remake, it’ll be pretty much all of them, hopefully including VR again. Hopefully we’ll hear more news soon. And stop fucking whining, Walker, it’s not that much blood.