On the 25th anniversary of the release of Riven, the sequel to the mega-hit adventure game Myst, developer Cyan has announced that it is being redone in a "ground-up modern remake."
"Riven is one of the most highly regarded games in Cyan’s history," the studio said in an FAQ, explaining why it waited 25 years to commit to a Riven remake. "We didn’t want to approach it lightly or frivolously. Cyan is a small indie studio. We wanted to make sure we could take on such a difficult, costly and complicated endeavor—and do it well."
(Myst, by way of comparison, has been remade multiple times, including as Myst: Masterpiece Edition, realMyst: Interactive 3D edition, and realMyst: Masterpiece Edition. The most recent remake, simply entitled Myst, came out in 2021 with VR support.)
While Cyan waited a quarter-century to bring back Riven, there was a long-running fan project aimed at resurrecting it "in a fully-realized realtime-3D environment" called Starry Expanse. In 2019, the Starry Expanse team said it was "officially working with Cyan Worlds to bring the dream of a real-time Riven into reality." Cyan said in a separate message posted today that members of that team are not working on the official remake, but that "we reached an agreement which allowed us to reference core pieces of their efforts to jump-start our development." The Starry Expanse project itself quietly halted development a couple years ago, after Cyan informed the team that it was preparing to launch an official remake.
Truthfully, I didn't like Riven as much as Myst—which, to be clear, I absolutely loved. Myst was revolutionary: an unprecedented gameplay experience wrapped in photorealistic graphics and a lush, exotic soundtrack that demonstrated what seemed like the virtually limitless potential of CD-ROM technology. Riven was more technologically advanced, yes, but like so many sequels it was also more of the same, and coming four years after Myst it just wasn't quite as magical the second time around.
Still, I'm happy that Cyan is finally moving forward with the update, and maybe 25 years of separation from the original will give me a different perspective on it. Unfortunately, there are no details at this point about platforms or a possible release date, but Cyan did clarify—because apparently clarification was necessary—that owners of the original Riven will not be upgraded to the remake version for free.