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Low-Spoiler Guide to Riven

Welcome to my Riven hints page. (-: If you're new to this series of low-spoiler computer game walkthroughs, the idea behind them is to point gamers towards things they might not have tried in each game rather than giving step-by-step instructions or divulging puzzle solutions. There's not much point in playing a puzzle game if you know the solutions in advance, after all.

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So these pages are as close to spoiler-free as possible while still providing some valuable Riven hints and tips. If you are looking for the solution to a particular puzzle, I recommend the UHS site--due to the way their pages are set up you can only see one hint at a time, so you can get the answer to one pesky puzzle without ruining all the others for yourself. Here's the UHS page for Riven, if that interests you. My site, meanwhile, focuses on exactly the things UHS and other traditional walkthroughs don't: the non-critical parts of the game, little detours you can take, extra details you might miss if you did only what was strictly necessary to complete the game. If you want even fewer spoilers--you're considering whether or not to buy the game, for example--please try my Riven Review page to find all the pertinant information in one convenient spoiler-free package.

Now, on with the game!

Riven Hints and Tips
Riven Walkthrough
Riven Cheats and Links
The Backseat Game Designer: Riven Critique

Riven Hints and Tips

Riven was first released in 1997, but its game engine is little-changed from the original 1993 release of Myst, and it shows its age in its awkward slideshow graphics, rudimentary interface, and cranky refusal to work with Windows XP. (Right-clicking the Windows icon, choosing "Properties," and setting "Compatibility" to Windows 98 compatability ought to work; if not, you may need to reinstall QuickTime from the Riven disk.) The strength of Riven is definitely its meaty puzzles (secondarily, the graphics are very pretty); the weakness is undoubtedly the monotonous trudging back and forth to get between puzzle stages. This gameworld is large and most of it is mind-numbingly boring. I've added a section to my walkthrough page now to tell you exactly where all the non-boring locations in the gameworld are, so you can spare yourself some of the tedium. I'm certainly not going to spoil any of the puzzles for you, though, because they're the only reason to play this starchy classic in the first place. Here are the general gameplay notes it may help you to know before you get started:

Movement: The movement controls in Riven are very inconsistent and often unintuitive--in some locations clicking on the right edge of the screen will cause you to turn 90 degrees to the right as you'd expect it to, and in others it will cause you to do a complete about-face. The cursor will look very slightly different in the two cases--if you're going to turn 90 degrees the arrow will be straight, and if you're going to turn 180 degrees it will be crooked. Try not to let this disorient you too much. It's a lousy interface; you'll just have to make the best of it if you want to get to the puzzly goodness.

Inventory: For the most part you cannot pick up objects in Riven, so don't waste any time trying to (even when something looks like it ought to be an extremely useful object). The only exception is books; there are two books you'll be able to pick up and take with you in the course of the plot.

Interface: Your only method of interacting with the gameworld is by clicking on it. There will be no indication as to whether an object is clickable or not; you'll just have to use trial and error (which is frustrating since if you try to click something non-clickable, the game usually assumes you're trying to step forwards or rotate a random amount). On some occasions you will need to click something and then pull it in the appropriate direction, but this was usually intuitive (pulling a lever down and so forth).

Time Management: Time does not pass in Riven, and you can take as long as you like exploring any part of it you choose in any order you want to.

Problem Spots: There are no realtime sequences in Riven, no alternate paths to take, and no potential dead ends; there are a few ways to lose the game, but they are all instantaneous, so there's no way to paint yourself into a corner. I found only one place I could go that I could not retrace my steps--after riding up the Wahrk gallows (the tall structure in the sea near the Rivenese village), I was unable to get back down to the structure's base (and therefore unable to use the submarine any more). Not that it mattered at that point--the submarine is no longer useful at that stage in the game--but my two-year-old really liked the submarine animation, so I had to reload an old game for him a few times. :-)

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