That’s right, the Riven Journals are back online! You can read more about them below or dive right in. I recommend beginning with either the middle Journal or the rightmost Journal, and leave the leftmost Journal for last – you need to solve the other four before you’ll know how to solve the leftmost one, which was actually the fifth & final Journal released. If you get stuck, here’s some hints, tips & solutions. Have fun!
Wait, the Riven what-now?
Once upon a time, back in the early days of the web in 1996-1997, there was a website featuring a series of puzzles called the Riven Journals. They originally resided at http://journals.riven.com/. Basically, they served as a teaser and promotional material for the upcoming game Riven: The Sequel to Myst by Cyan, Inc, creators of the MYST series of video games. Fans were itching for information on a sequel to Myst, so Cyan’s then-publisher, Red Orb Entertainment, the non-edutainment gaming division of Brøderbund, contracted Organic Online to create both the Riven Journals and the www.riven.com website… Phew, that’s a lot of names!
Okay, now that I know some backstory, what were they exactly?
The Riven Journals were designed to provide an insight into Cyan’s next masterpiece without giving away any hints about the story or ending. None of the content in the Riven Journals will assist you in completing Riven, however they do enhance the gameplay by providing additional backstory and extra details about the game. However, officially speaking nothing in the Riven Journals is considered canon. Some of its contents have been flat-out ret-conned by later games or from emails & forum posts by the official D’ni Historian, RAWA, while some has simply never been mentioned again. But hey, it’s still some interesting stories, and of course some fun puzzles too!
Oooh, there’s Puzzles involved?
Of course there’s puzzles, this is a website for a Myst game, isn’t it? 😉 The Riven Journals are split into 5 books that were originally released one at a time. This makes their ordering, 5-3-1-2-4, a little wonky today now that they’re all available. Each book contains some information or a short story plus a puzzle. Upon completing a puzzle you’re rewarded with what was back then an exclusive never-before-seen-at-the-time screenshot of Riven and, if you were among the first to solve a book, your name was added to that book’s Honorary Guildmembers page. The site also hosted a mailing list that announced when the new books were available. And before anyone asks, no I’m not going to resurrect the email list, because that would be just silly.
So what happened to them, why were they taken down?
Some time after Riven’s release, the Riven Journals were taken down as they were considered to be obsolete now that the actual game was out. Copies of the Riven Journals weren’t kept by Cyan, Brøderbund, Red Orb Entertainment, or Organic. I know because I reached out to as many people from there as I could find. Sadly the Internet Archives captured almost none of the Journals too.
But if they’re long gone, how are they here?
That’s why this section of my website is called the Riven Journals Restored – Reviving them has been an ongoing restoration effort spanning twenty years now. In the initial version I went scouring through the deepest reaches of the web in search of ALL the information I could find about the Riven Journals on any search engine, as well as the Internet Archives for earlier versions of those pages, as well as any other sites that are related to/link to that page and their history. This amounted to over 30,000 individual pages (yes you read that right). Collating this all together was the basis for the first major version of the Riven Journals Restored, released on the 22nd of September 2002. Later on I added a menu system for jumping between files, as it was regrettably necessary given the numerous gaps in the content at the time. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much at all. After all that scrounging I still had very little substance. Only the first book’s puzzle was playable, but it wasn’t exactly finish-able and the book itself had many missing images (including a lot of whole pages). The other four books were practically skeletons.
How much like the original Riven Journals are they?
The latest version dynamically scales pages so they’re not the size of a postage stamp on modern high-resolution monitors. To go with this, AI upscaling has been performed so they don’t look like a blurry blob at 4k – by hand treating each image manually with the paramaters individually tuned one at a time with care, and definitely not some quick bulk export. Despite my best efforts, I’ll be the first to admit that the upscaled versions aren’t always better than a basic blurry bicubic resize of the originals, but I think they look better more than 95% of the time. Don’t fret, purists; there’s a button to view the originals on every page & every puzzle (though some puzzles only update to reflect the change after your next action, such as clicking on pieces). That button’s also useful for investigating situations where the upscaled versions look weird because the original images lack sufficient detail for proper extrapolation, or where the originals also look weird and the upscales are faithfully replicating that oddity, too. More info about this on the blog post about that specific Riven Journals Upgrade!
Help I’m stuck! Can you give me some hints?
Just keep trying; it’s more satisfying for you when you finally get it on your own! If you’re completely stuck though, here’s some hints.
(the book in the middle about beetle ink)
- Hint 1: Three words. Each letter always produces the same tile in any position. Just gotta figure out what letters go where!
- Hint 2: No letters are repeated.
- Hint 3: The first word is
- Hint 4: The full solution is
(the book to the right of middle about an aquatic creature)
- Hint 1: This one’s a game of careful trial-and-error to breed the correct animal. The final step involves breeding the animal with itself.
- Hint 2: The first match is
- Hint 3: The second match is
- Hint 4: Full solution image:
(the book to the left of middle about a transport system to replace longer bridges)
- Hint 1: As the page says, both left & right numbers must be equal, and you want seven units below fifty-five – aka 48 units.
- Hint 2: The top thruster just multiplies both sides by 2/4/6/8 equally. Set it low then focus on finding the right button pattern & side thruster positions for something that’s a multiple of 48.
- Hint 3: The correct left buttons, from the top, are
- Hint 4: Full solution image:
(the book on the far right about a D’ni that travels amongst the stars)
- Hint 1: Press five sections, in the correct order, followed by the green sea beast in the middle.
- Hint 2: The correct solution never involves clicking on a piece that’s already yellow.
- Hint 3: Sound helps a lot for this puzzle – certain sections sound different.
- Hint 4: The first piece is
- Hint 5: The second piece is
- Hint 6: Full solution image:
Journal Five, Part one:
(the book on the far left that’s sliced in three)
This time the book itself is the puzzle. In fact, it’s two puzzles! Additionally, you need to solve all the other journals first before you’ll have the answers to solve this one because each journal subtly changes when you finish it.
- Hint 1: Can’t figure out where to start? Look closer at the book’s spine.
- Hint 2: Got everything reconfigured? This puzzle looks & sounds familiar…
- Hint 3: There’s actually two ways to figure out the answer to this puzzle. One way involves piecing together the dot additions on the first page of each journal after you solved them, which may need to be rotated or flipped.
- Hint 4: The other way involves figuring out what page number you need in the charred fireplace combination book in Myst. What else have you got to go on in this book?
- Hint 5: The correct fireplace pattern page is
- Hint 6: Full solution image:
Journal Five, Part two:
(the book on the far left, after you’ve managed to open it)
- Hint 1: When you think you have a correct answer, press the round button below and to the right of the grey working area that’s easy to miss to try activating the stamp mechanism.
- Hint 2: Not all pieces are necessary. Some are there just to confuse you.
- Hint 3: To save you from having to position things to the nearest pixel, pieces snap to their correct position when you’re close enough. To not make things too easy, the extra pieces also snap to a fake position. Just because there’s a snap doesn’t mean it’s correct.
- Hint 4: Some puzzles have pieces that are very similar or even identical. If in doubt, look closely for differences between the pieces or try swapping them around.
- Hint 5: Don’t know what patterns you should be making? Where have you seen some patterns before that only appeared after you solved a journal? If you’re having trouble finding them,
- Hint 5: The stamping/book moving mechanism moves in an interesting way as it works. Maybe that’s important?
- Hint 6:
- Hint 7: Stamp 1 solution image:
- Hint 8: Stamp 2 solution image:
- Hint 9: Stamp 3 solution image:
- Hint 10: Stamp 4 solution image:
No big clues for finding them, sorry 😉 All I’ll say is that you have to solve all the Journals first as part of unlocking them. But so you’re not left out in the cold, here’s a single image from them:
I’ve got something to tell you!
Great! Drop me a line and I’ll reply when I can, if I can.
I want more Riven stuff!
Okay fine, just for you. Here’s a secret, as mentioned above – there’s an easter egg section hidden within the Riven Journals. It’s got a whole bunch of concept art from the original www.riven.com website, the Riven Journals and Riven itself, plus other shiny stuff like that. It’s hidden very well so you’ll have to look pretty hard to find it.
I want more more Riven stuff!
Geez, you’re rather demanding, aren’t you? Well alright, in honour of Riven’s 20th anniversary have some previously-unreleased-in-raw-form Riven concept art of the schoolroom Wahrk counting number game:
I want more more more Riven stuff!
Still eager for more? Then check out Riven Elementary, a long-lost Shockwave game based on the Wahrk counting numbers toy in Riven that I also host. Much like the Riven Journals it’s also considered non-canon, but it’s also the only thing to ever feature mathematical operands, aka addition/subtraction/multiplication/division.
I want more more more more Riven stuff!
I think that’s enough for you for now. 😛