Riven for iPad Review

Riven for iPad Review

Can Riven hold it’s own on the iPad, 16 years after it’s original PC release?

Calming, soothing, settling and relaxing. Riven is a tricky point-and-click adventure that doubles up as a picturesque holiday, a leisurely puzzle game played at your own pace. There’s almost no context given when you’re dropping into a pretty cliff-side town, nor are you forced into any laborious tutorials. You tap to move between pictures and eventually, exploration leads to a puzzle game unfurling as you begin to understand the world around you.

The more you understand, the more difficult you realise Riven truly is. Puzzles obstruct progress and Riven is an abstract creature, preferring to leave its obstacles shrouded in a thin veil of ambiguity rather than spelling things out for you. One of the first doors you encounter is locked with gold beetles embedded on the wall, which open up to reveal small pictures of deities. What do you do?

Gaming veterans will recognise Riven because it was originally released for PC way back in 1997 on five compact discs (yes, five), which is obviously no such concern for iOS players. That alone makes Riven worth revisiting, but also tapping the screen feels more intuitive than a mouse and keyboard, especially when you’re stuck and begin tapping the screen out of hope rather than expectation.

Even so, Riven does show some signs of its age. The constant jumping between pictures can make exploration confusing, and it’s sometimes a little too tricky for its own good. But even in 2013 there’s nothing like it, matching a sedate, calming atmosphere with a good brain workout.

Rated 4 out of 5

Soothing and relaxing exploration game with some tricky puzzles at its core.