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Riven, possibly the best puzzle-adventure game of all time, gets a modern remake

Start practicing your base-five math

Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Developer Cyan Worlds announced Monday that it’s in production on a full remake of Myst-sequel Riven, taking the blockbuster 1997 adventure-puzzle game somewhere it’s never been before: 3D.

Among the most sublimely constructed feats of puzzlemaking through environmental storytelling in video games, Riven bedeviled millions of players who dared click their way through its lush, two-dimensional world. And for the game’s 25th anniversary, Cyan, the occasionally wobbly indie studio that crafted it, will remake the game as a “fully traversable” space.

The company addressed why it took so long to bring Riven into three dimensions in an FAQ: “Riven is one of the most highly regarded games in Cyan’s history. 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.”

The announcement may come as a surprise to most, but absolute Riven nerds — *glances around nervously* *coughs* — got a bit of a heads up a year ago, when Cyan announced its agreement with The Starry Expanse Project, saying that it was in touch with the Starry Expanse team, and had even hired from their members. Starry Expanse was a fan-developed attempt to recreate the series of 2D images that made up Riven’s locations, scenes, and puzzles as equally impactful 3D environments.

“We spoke confidentially with the Starry Expanse team a couple of years ago,” Cyan said in a blog post last year, “about the exciting news that Cyan finally had the resources to tackle remaking Riven. Together, we reached an agreement which allowed us to reference core pieces of their efforts to jump-start our development. They subsequently ceased development on The Starry Expanse Project, as our official efforts to remake Riven began.”

Cyan did not offer any information on a release date or window for the remake, but noted that the best way to stay abreast of Riven news would be to subscribe to the company’s newsletter.