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YMMV / Riven

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  • Better on DVD: The digital version is much smoother than the original version, which came on a whopping five CD-ROM's that required you to swap them every time you went to another of Riven's five islands. In fact, Riven was one of the earliest PC games to receive a DVD release for this reason.
  • Covers Always Lie: The Age of Tay is shown on the box art, but in-game, your only exploration of it is the shoreline, and a small prison cell, where you can look out into the Age's inner village, but never explore it.
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  • Even Better Sequel: Riven was a major overhaul in terms of Scenery Porn and followed up on the promise of a foe greater than Atrus's sons could imagine; Atrus's tyrannical father is played like a professional by the Shakespearean-actor John Keston.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In one ending, you can capture Gehn but signal Atrus without freeing Catherine (resulting in her offscreen death). In the closing narration, Atrus sadly notes that he will "never know her fate". The actress who played her, Sheila Goold, died unexpectedly at age 53 in 2017. Her cause of death has not been made public, meaning fans will likely never know her fate.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • If the player was feeling doubtful about judging Gehn, their minds will quickly change after Gehn is caught doing this: After you link into the prison book that Gehn wants you to use first, we see Gehn open the book, ready to link in (releasing you). However, Gehn is carrying his custom-built musket, maybe to threaten his son Atrus, but is likely ready to shoot him dead in revenge. This can severely interfere with sympathy the player had for Gehn's troubled past.
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    • In a bad-ending,evidence that Gehn truly wants to kill his son is revealed, when he does fatally shoot Atrus. Then he commands his partner to shoot you too as he casually walks away with the linking book back to D'ni.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • The intro actually has a too-fast-to-see frame of Gehn looking at you as a subliminal message to give you the feeling someone's watching. It's actually inside the distorted Gateway Image of Riven's Descriptive Book, giving the impression that Gehn already knows you're coming.
    • There's a door on "Temple Island", where you start - it's locked, but you can crawl underneath it. What's behind it? Nothing, except a small peephole into the temple.
      • When the temple is rotated properly, the door gives access to the valve that powers the Star Fissure scope. The reason it's locked is that Gehn probably didn't want anyone else using the scope.
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    • There's a throne room (of sorts) near the temple, connected to it by surveillance camera and holographic imager. If you enter the temple, sometimes the imager will be running and you can see Gehn hurriedly switch it off - and you can't catch him before he escapes.
      • During the normal course of events, the first thing you find is the transmitting room, which contains the holographic camera, and the two surveillance monitors which show the inside of the temple and the maglev terminal outside; there's also a switch to open and shut the temple's main door. The next thing you find, just down the corridor from the preceding room, is a secret entrance to the temple. The game permits you to put the full picture together yourself: Gehn waits in the transmission room for representatives from the village to arrive via the maglev; when the maglev pulls into the station he flicks the switch to open the door, sits down in the throne, and lowers the hologram apparatus into position; his image is then projected into the temple to speak with his lowly subjects, who most assuredly have no idea that they could reach him simply by finding the door and walking down the hallway. He has a frightening amount of technology invested in making the more superstitious of the villagers view him as omnipotent. This is by no means the only manifestation of his controlling nature, but as early glimpses go it's profoundly unsettling, and gives you a very good idea of whom you're up against.
    • There's a periscope in the middle of the lake on Village Island, which turns out to be connected to another hidden surveillance room. Fortunately, when you're out wandering around the lake, it's not used. However, Cyan originally intended to have the periscope pointed at you the entire time, but it was too complex to render in every shot.
    • When you break into Gehn's office, there's a D'ni rifle and smoking-pipe sitting on a desk. But if you break in a second time, they're gone... and you don't see either of them again until you unlock his linking books.
    • Not to mention snooping around Gehn's office in general. Not knowing if he was going to walk in on you.
  • Player Punch: There's the moment where you read one of Gehn's journals. He's crying about his deceased wife, Keta, and unlike the neat and ordered previous pages, the writing for this entry is shaky, and the pages are stained with tears. The worst part is is that you have to trap him before you can learn about this. And if you free him out of sympathy, he'll still kill you.
    • Just in case you didn't know how much he misses her, there is also a photograph of her (next to one of Gehn's father) and a short video message where she promises always to love him "to twenty-five", which is a D'ni idiom meaning to the greatest extent.
  • Quicksand Box: The other games are divided into discrete, self-contained ages which can be completed independently of each other. Riven is almost completely comprised of a single, gigantic age, and it can be frustratingly easy to lose track of everything you have or haven't done yet.
  • Squick: Gehn captures frogs and smokes frog extract for his pipe.
  • That One Puzzle: The marble puzzle, sometimes given the Fan Nickname "the waffle iron from Hell." It's extremely tedious to solve, as not only do you have to pinpoint every dome on a hard-to-see 3D map of each island, you also have to physically go to each of those domes, look at the switch that opens them, have a very close eye on which symbol is yellow (they strobe by very quick), then match that symbol to a corresponding color in another room way far and off, then place that corresponding colored marble where it corresponds to map-wise on the waffle iron. To figure all of this out at once is incredibly unintuitive, but the amount of trekking you have to do just to piece together all the right information to get one marble is insane, let alone five! Oh, and if you're playing the original five-disc release, that also means the game brings out the worst of the disc swapping during this puzzle. The game's plot almost completely stops dead in its tracks when you hit this part, and is widely considered the worst part of what is otherwise an Even Better Sequel.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: John Keston, the actor who plays Gehn, has a cult following. This is mainly thanks to his well received acting ability in the game. In fact, it is safe to assume that he is one of the best actors in the Myst seriesnote .

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